Thursday, January 30, 2014

Techie Tips Linky Party

Hi everyone!

     I've decided to link-up to Aileen Miracle's Techie Tip Linky Party this week!

I thought I'd share my favorite way to record parts for my Faculty Choir (which will be featured in a blog post at the end of this month!) - Audacity!!

You can download audacity for FREE by clicking on the picture above, which brings you to the website. This is the easiest way to record individual parts, a song for a sub, or even layer your voice singing different parts. In my opinion, it is a tool that every music teacher should know about and use frequently.

My experience with Audacity started as I was making a baby shower gift for one of my friends: a compilation of lullaby recordings and a guide for how to learn them yourself. Audacity made it so easy to sing a song and then layer a second part over the top of it!

These are the basic instructions for how you use it:

  1. Download Audacity using the link above (click on the picture).
  2. Download Lame- the mp3 encoder you will need to export your recordings to your Desktop or to iTunes.
  3. Open Audacity and decide what you're going to record, go to File-->New, and a new window will open.
  4. Find the control panel and click Record (looks like any CD/Tape Player controls).
  5. Record what you want and then click Stop.
  6. Play it to make sure it's what you want, and re-record if necessary.
  7. Go to File--> Export, make sure it's saving to your Desktop as an mp3 file and give it a name you'll remember.
  8. Look on your desktop and voila! There is the file and it can be played in iTunes, embedded on your website, or added to a SmartBoard presentation!
Recording made easy! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I See A Song

Hi again everyone!

    A couple weeks ago I posted my Kindergarten unit and mentioned that it would be culminating in a lesson using Eric Carle's beautiful illustrations in I See A Song. The first time I taught this lesson, I used photocopied visuals from the book, which were effective, but the students had too many choices of instruments and once they told me what they wanted to do, they immediately forgot once we performed it.

    So, a few days later I got another chance at the lesson (thank goodness for 3 sections of Kindergarten!) I created a SmartBoard file with the visuals along with 5 pictures of handheld percussion instruments (egg shakers, sand blocks, triangles, tambourines, and drums). As we looked at the pictures, we decided which instrument would go well with each picture, and whether the instrument should be played loud or soft, and sometimes even fast or slow. We circled the chosen instrument and wrote the describing words on the board.

     This way, once we had decided what to do for each page, I could pass out instruments to groups of students and they would know what to play by looking for the visual on the page. If you were holding the sand blocks, you only played when your instrument picture was circled.

   Here is the link to the presentation I created: I See A Song.

    It worked wayyy better the second time around! The students had a visual to follow, and they got to switch instruments several times, so that their skills of "following" a musical plan were honed by the 2nd or 3rd go around!

   The end of the presentation has a link to the YouTube orchestral representation of the book- a treat for the students after creating their own. :)

Hope everyone is staying warm this week!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Five Favorite Pins of January Link-Up!

Hi everyone!

    Aileen Miracle is hosting another "Five Favorite Pins" Link-up and I'm so excited to be a part of it! I have been scouring Pinterest for some awesome Winter-themed Pins, and here are some of my favorites that I will be using in the coming weeks:

1) These two videos have the same audio, but different visuals. I do a lesson with Kindergarten that revolves around teaching them the song Once There Was A Snowman, and I am so excited to be able to use at least one of these to augment the lesson:

2) In keeping with the snowman theme, I have been exploring High/Low and Up/Down with Kindergarten (as per my last blog post), and used a similar Boomwhacker song to reinforce that concept (Ebeneezer Sneezer). This should be a fun one to use now that they're familiar with the Boomwhackers!

3) Thought this was a really cute game to use with younger grades, no need to introduce the actual Rondo form, but it's a great beginning use of the form:

4) Thinking about using this idea for my Music in Our Schools Month hallway display, except changing it to: When you close your eyes and think of music, what do you see?

5) Two great Vocal Explorations from Smart Exchange:

Okay, I'm cheating a little because I had a snow day today, and therefore more time to pin, so here is one extra one...6) I used the similar Fall Leaves activity from the Totally Tuned in Teacher on TPT, and this is a similar rhythm/math/coloring activity- great for centers!!

Enjoy, and link up with us following the directions here: 

Here's hoping we go back to school tomorrow, so that I can prep my performance for two weeks from now!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teaching Opposites to Kindergarten- A Unit to Teach Musical Vocabulary

Hi everyone!

     It's been almost two months since I've posted- December and January have both been crazy months, but now I'm back! First of all, I would like to thank all of the amazing bloggers who shared their resources for free in the Facebook Frenzy Giveaway! As a newer teacher, it was so wonderful to see what other teachers were using in December and January- and I'm having a lot of fun exploring the different uses for all the items I got!

      Now to get to the point of this post: Kindergarten. I have hour long Kindergarten classes, and boy is that long! However, the unit that I have been teaching over the past couple months has really been working well, so I thought I'd share and include the resources that I have been using.

We first focused on different types of sound: our 4 voices, loud and soft, and environmental vs. instrumental. Thanks to Pinterest and Smart Exchange, I have some wonderful technology that I have been able to use for two years in a row!

On day 1 of the unit, we focus on this concept: I Have Four Voices (and my voice can be loud or soft). I use this amazing SmartBoard presentation from Cherie Herring.

It can be found at this link: The presentation focuses on our Yelling, Singing, Talking, and Whispering voices and introduces the vocabulary for loud and soft: Forte and Piano. I use this with Kindergarten and then review it with 1st grade the next year. I also LOVE to reinforce the vocabulary by asking them to get into a piano line at the end of the class period.

On day 2, we focus on environmental sounds vs. instrumental sounds. First comes our Listening Walk! The kids love this because we walk around the outside and inside of the school and listen for different sounds, then check them off on our lists (plus it tires them out before our discussion!) Here is an example of the checklist I made:

We then come back to the classroom discuss what we heard- did we hear anything that wasn't on this list? We then use Dee Hoban's SmartBoard presentation to discuss environmental sounds vs. instrumental sounds: I present the following slide first to distinguish between environment and instrument, then go through the rest to talk about instruments: 

Now that we understand the sounds that are around us, we can start to learn more musical vocabulary. On day 3, I review forte and piano, then go on to talk about fast and slow: presto and largo. I use this video (the kids are OBSESSED and want to see it every class period now): 

Then the students get to experiment with tempo from slow to fast with this great resource from the San Francisco Orchestra Kids Website:

Of course, at the end of class I play the sound from the Presto/Largo video and allow the students to move the way the music is moving (fast or slow). Somehow this worked out in all 3 of my classes- students ran in a circle when it was Presto, and walked very slowly around the room when it was Largo. Organization in Kindergarten!? I was pretty impressed.

On day 4, we talk about high and low using this awesome SmartBoard presentation from Amy Banas:

Kids get to identify high and low on the SmartBoard and then we play Boomwhackers and ID which ones make higher sounds and which make lower sounds using Denise Schneider's Ebeneezer Sneezer music: On their way to get in line, each student gets to play a high note and a low note on the piano.

On day 5, we review high and low and transfer that knowledge to talk about sounds moving up and down. I start the class with this activity, asking students to identify whether the bug ends high or low and then recognizing that if it ends on a low note, it is going down, and vice versa:

Then I use Cherie Herring's SmartBoard presention: Sounds Can Go Up, Sounds Can Go Down:

The kids now have a pretty good understanding of musical vocabulary and are ready to do their first basic composition project. That means that this week we will be working with Eric Carle's book: I See a Song.

Groups of students will create sound curtains for the pictures that they receive using handheld percussion instruments (corresponding with pages in the book) and then perform it at the end of class. Here is a great YouTube video with music for the book if you don't have time for the whole project:

This project starts on Thursday, so I'll be back to let you know how it goes! Now to round out my first semester of 5th Grade Chorus with our Winter Concert tonight!!

Happy New Year!