Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Teaching rhythm

Another idea by Trisha...
To learn a song that has a strong beat (like How Firm a Foundation), here's another idea.

I made rhythm sticks out of 5/8" dowels cut into 8" lengths. I found 3' and 4' dowels at our local building supply store.

I made enough sets of sticks so that at least half of the children had a set. If a child didn't get a set of sticks first, they clapped. And we switched sticks often so that all of the children had a chance to clap and use the sticks.

First, I had us all clap or tap out the beat. The beat never changes in most of the Primary songs. Each song is usually composed of three or four beats in each measure. The beat just goes on and on. You can talk quite well while you and the children are clapping/tapping the beat. I repeated "The beat goes on and on. It never changes" to the beat a couple times to emphasize the steadiness of the beat.

Second, we all practiced clapping/tapping out the rhythm. For the rhythm, you clap or tap each time there's a note in the song. It usually works out to a clap/tap for every syllable in each word. For example, How Firm A Foun-Da-Tion, Ye Sa-Ints Of The Lord with every capital letter indicating a clap/tap.

When the children had the rhythm under control, I switched it up.

One side of the room kept the beat, while the other side of the room clapped/tapped the rhythm. That way, they could hear the differences between the beat and the rhythm. And then we switched sides.

You could use a teacher or member of the Presidency to lead one side of the room while you lead the other side. I used one of our 11 year-old girls that was musically talented and who was leaving within the next week to attend Young Womens. She loved it. The kids loved it too.

We repeated both verses of How Firm a Foundation several times, but the children didn't seem to notice all the repetition while tapping/clapping the beat or the rhythm of the song.

Italian fun

This post is an idea submitted by Trisha...
Thanks for the great idea!
(If anyone else has an idea, to share, let me know!)

Because most music words are Italian, I decided to teach the children some common Italian music words while reviewing songs for the program.

I used the following pairs of words:
* Forte (loud) and Piano (soft)
* Allegro (fast) and Largo (slow)
* Staccato (crisp, detached) and Legato (smooth, connected)
* A capella (without music) and Con musica (with music)
* Regazze (girls), Ragazzi (boys), and Insegnanti (teachers)

I used an online translation site to find the translations for girls, boys, and teachers. The site also says the words for you so that you can hear the correct pronunciation ( It works for other languages too. Want to learn Head, Shoulder, Knees, and Toes in another langugage? This site is extremely helpful for that. There are other such sites out there, but this is one of my favorites.

I dressed in a trench coat, with a hat, and big sunglasses. I was a detective and I invited the children to play detective with me to figure out some Italian words that have to do with music and singing.

For Junior Primary, I hid the pairs of words in numbered envelopes under their chairs so that they could help me find the missing Italian words.

Then, I had the children with the number one words come up to the front and hold their words.

I had a "magic wand" (a digital drumstick with the power off). I told the children my wand could read Italian, so they had to guess what each word meant based on how my wand responsed. I'd read each word by running the tip of the wand across each word. Then, my wand would respond in a corresponding way. I'd then ask them what they thought that word meant in English.

* Forte (very large movements)
* Piano (very small)
* Allegro (very fast)
* Largo (very slow)
* Staccato (robot-like, sharp)
* Legato (flowing, almost dancing)
* A capella (sharp, cut off motion towards pianist)
* Con musica (pick up/include motion towards pianist)
* Ragazze, Ragazzi, and Insegnanti (point towards girls, boys, or teachers, or point to pictures on the board or on a poster, or walk around tapping a few gently on the head)

For Senior Primary, I also put "How?," "Who?," and "When?" wordstrips on the board. For each set of words, they helped me deduce if that pair of Italian words helped us know WHO shoudl sing, WHEN we should sing (or sing with accompaniment), or HOW we should sing.

We sang through several songs in the program with a different set of words for each song. The children had to watch the wand carefully to know how to sing the song at any given moment because the wand would switch back and forth between each word in a pair. If they needed extra practice with a song, a helper got to come up and direct the wand with the appropriate motions for the Italian words used with that song.

At the end, we sang through a couple songs using all of the Italian words together. They really had to watch me and my wand then!

I also sent home a straw with each child. The straw had a little paper flag taped to the end of it. The "flag" listed all of the Italian words we learned that day. I told them they could practice their Italian and music with their families.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Primary song hospital

This seems to be a very popular idea, as I read lots of "Versions" on it at sugardoodle and yahoogroups

I read through them all and mixed and matched ideas to fit what I thought would work for our primary.

Before hand, I asked a brother in our ward to be our Doctor. I picked this brother in particular, because he has a background in music, which is helpful for "diagnosing" our primary.

I made this board from a tri-fold display bought at target. I spent WAY too much time drawing my "floating" hospital (I think I still need some lessons in art and drawing 2 dimensional figures...) So hopefully you can think of something MUCH simpler.

The inside is pretty boring. I ran out of time to decorate it more...which may be a good thing. :)

The inside says "Primary Song Hospital."

On each of the three sections, I taped the edges of a file folder together, and taped that on to each section. The sections were labeled "waiting room", "Emergency Room" and "Discharge".

I printed out forms for each of the songs, with a separate sheet for each verse. I was worried that we would run out of time. After having done it, I would recommend having one sheet per song, despite the number of verses. We weren't able to get through all of the songs.

I placed all of the sheets in the folder labeled "Waiting Room"

I did this on the 5th Sunday, on which I have the entire singing/sharing time for just singing.

I introduced our Doctor, outfitted with a white lab coat, stethoscope around his neck, and a clipboard. Then we had a volunteer "nurse" pick out a patient to be diagnosed. The nurse gave the paper to the Doctor, and we sang the song, then had the Dr. tell us our diagnosis. Our Doctor did a fantastic job in telling them "good news" and "bad news".

If the song got below a 4 in any category (words, smiles, watching chorister, melody, etc.) then it was sent to the emergency room. For Juniors, I'd pick an "ambulance driver" to drive the paper to the emergency room, and we all made siren noises.

If the song was discharged (meaning only 4 or 5's) then the entire primary received a squirt of "Miracle Spray". This is just lemon crystal light in a spray bottle. I told the kids to say "AHHH" if they wanted some, and if they didn't to just keep their mouths closed. THIS was a HUGE hit.

I wish we had been able to go through all the songs and then had time to work on getting the Emergency Room patients discharged...but maybe next time.