Add a Little Musical Play to Learning
Energizing Music Activities
Short music activities that energize and focus attention while working on the elements of music can make the first five minutes of the music class both fun and educational.
A few to try.......
Moveable Beat - This one is fun for a very basic beat activity with younger children. As a selection of music is being played have the students "keep the Beat" in different parts of their bodies. The teacher calls out the part and students move the beat accordingly. E.g. "Keep the beat in your feet." (hands, knees, shoulders, head, toes, nose, everywhere)
Interpretive Movement - Have a variety of styles of music ready to play (recorded or live). Ask students to "move to the music" showing the beat, tempo, melodic movement and perhaps a repetitive rhythm. Depending on the age and experience of the children, you may want to introduce one element at a time. I don't use the word dance for this activity since some children freeze up if they think they have to dance.
Sol-fa Calisthenics - This works well with younger children for practising the concept of pitch. Assign the parts of the body to the notes of the scale. Start with do, (toes), mi (knees), sol (waist), la, (shoulders), do1 (head) and when the students are ready, add re (mid shin), fa (hips) and ti (ears).
To teach the positions, the teacher sings the notes and shows the positions as the students follow along. Once the students are familiar with the location of each pitch, the teacher could sing the notes and the students do the movements, touching the correct part for each note. For some groups it may be easier for the students if the teacher sings the pattern first and then the students sing and do the movements. For a better workout, put in several larger intervals. For example: do-sol-do1-do-sol. Give the students a break when they are tired. Have a leader perform the movements while the students sing the correct pitches. The concept of tempo could also be introduced. Before starting, tap and count out eight beats to establish the tempo of the exercise.
The Wave - This activity takes the popular movement performed by crowds at baseball or hockey games in which a giant moving wave is created by people standing and sitting one section after another to make the wave flow around the stadium or arena. Have the students feel the phrasing and tempo of a piece of music by doing a group wave that starts and finishes with each phrase.
A song such as My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean is an easy way to introduce the activity since the phrasing is basically line by line. Let the students individually illustrate the phrasing by moving their arms from left to right in an arc flowing with each phrase. Then challenge them work together on timing to pass the wave through the class by either standing and sitting or raising and lowering arms one group at a time to make the wave pass through the entire class from left to right for each phrase. For My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, ten waves would be performed for the entire song. Try the activity with recorded music of various styles.
Echo Orchestra - Students stay seated and the teacher quickly splits the class into 4 or 5 groups as might be done for singing in a round. Starting with the first group, the teacher vocalizes a short melodic, rhythmic or sound effect pattern that the group begins to echo and repeat. Once that group is going, the teacher starts the next group with a different pattern and continues until all groups have started “playing in the orchestra. The teacher then conducts the group indicating crescendos, decrescendos and changes in tempo for the entire "orchestra". Individual groups should be quietened, raised or cut off and restarted so that they get an opportunity to listen to the others and hear the changing sound with different crescendos and decrescendos. This is also a great activity for working on crisp cut-offs!
The teacher should try to have the different patterns cover the ranges in pitch (high, medium, low) and perhaps have a percussion section. For a wacky day make the strangest melodic and rhythmic sound effects that you can for each group.
Once the students are familiar with the conducting patterns have them take turns being the conductor.
Major/Minor Freeze Dance - When working on the major and minor scales, this activity gives students a fun way to learn to recognize the sound of each. This works best if the teacher (or student) can play short rhythmic passages on a piano or some other instrument. As the music is playing the students may dance (move) as long as it is in a major key. As soon as the music changes to a minor key the students must freeze until they hear a major key again. Sometimes switch it around and allow movement with the minor key and freeze with the major key.