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On Deck: Teaching active observation

I can explain, demonstrate, have a student demonstrate, and reinforce a direction until my eyes turn blue (they are brown) and still, 3-4 rotations into our work, students will forget or "not know" what to do.

So that's my objective for the week.

This posting is for an adult who might come in. I'm giving these aurally this week.

After an opening song, I  go into a rhyme. Let's choose one that most students know such as "Jack and Jill."
The word "water" should be underlined. Pardon the error.

We clap the rhyme. We learn the rhyme so well that we can accent the yellow ("water" and "after"). Then we clap ONLY on those yellow words. Two people who do this correctly are chosen to go to the "D" tone chimes and play the yellow "water" and "after". Both tone chimes have yellow stickers on them. I point this out and draw the connection between the yellow in the rhyme and the yellow on the bar.

A person is chosen to be "on deck." This person has to closely watch what the people ahead of them are doing. They are the next to have a turn at the instrument. They have to know what to do when it is their turn.
After their turn, the tone bell players rotate to the next place. The "on deck" person rotates in. Another person rotates into the "on deck" chair.

I have to remind those on deck to pay attention FREQUENTLY, especially in the older grades. These children are not used to having expectations of this sort in music class. The younger kids are because they have only known me. It's very frustrating, but that's the way things are when you begin a new position.

With a great class, we can have a bordun playing, "Won't you be my friend" [an augmentation of ta ta ta-ti ta], color notes on yellow words, and unpitched percussion (woodblocks and drums) on the whole rhyme. Students rotate into on deck positions for the bordun, color, and full melody positions.

Here's another rhyme that's in 6/8 and works well. The first word did bring snickering from my first graders. Yes, they know the X-rated definition of "pussy" but not the actual meaning. I just explained what it actually means and moved on. If they can't get over it, choose another rhyme.


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