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Week 7 This Is The Way the Notes Fly By

Have you looked at the feature song,  “This Is The Way”?   The first verse has musical notes moving up and down on the staff.   Its not just for entertainment, although it can be entertaining.   Moving pumpkin notes attract student eyes.   Challenge students, even the youngest, to move their hand up and down with the notes.

I don’t have any empirical data that shows this kind of video helps students connect written music to aural music, but that’s my hope.    Its part of pre-literacy for music  i.e.  exposure to written music while hearing the music.    The more ways to attract student attention to the written music, the more effective pre-literacy will be.  Even if you don’t teach the song,  just show and enjoy it with the class then ask:         “Why do the notes go up and down?”

Check out the other two feature songs for different versions of connecting visual and aural music.

I wanted to post  another song on the home page, but as you can see, the fourth space has decided to remain empty the past few weeks.    If your class doesn’t celebrate Hallowe’en, try  “I’m Gonna Be A…”  for two more songs that connect visual and aural music.   They also feature the fun of dressing-up  or  imagining what an adult job might be.

More experienced music students might have fun trying to pick out the places in the songs where the timing of the music pumpkin notes is “off”.    I make the videos with Music Maker and have varying degrees of success in getting everything to synchronize.     Mea cupla.

P.S.  I’ve been playing with “Five Little Pumpkins”  …pumpkin card.

Week 6 Pumpkins ‘n Drama


Pumpkins  —what a delightful word.   Say it five times and try not to smile.     Yes?

Five Little Pumpkins makes easy drama   …  five solo parts every time its acted out!   Change up the solo part by having students write new couplets to fit the rhythms … pumpkin words

Ask students to draw their favourite part of the rhyme, and turn them into a video with spoken parts done by class members.

I’ve taken Peter Peter  and   Humpty Dumpty and twisted them a wee bit  …   challenge junior students to re-write other nursery rhymes.

Many nursery rhymes begin as subversive social commentary.      Older students may be enticed back to these rhymes when let in on their secret history    e.g.  Humpty was a cannon!    Why include nursery rhymes in a music curriculum?    Their metre and simple words help re-enforce basic rhythms and beat.   Widespread use provides a base of “common” rhymes known across families.   Their back stories are part of history, part of the way music is entwined in culture.     Oh, and they’re fun.

Hallowe’en Songs: 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat                                                                        Old Mrs. Witch                                                                                                    This Is the Way the Witches Fly                                                                    This Black Cat                                                                                                    I’m Gonna Be a Pirate

and for Active Listening/Dancing:     Fossils


Week 5 Improvising

Primary students love to get their hands on instruments and make a joyful noise.    Keep the stress of “playing correctly” out of that joyful noise by  occasionally including improvisation.    Red, Orange, Yellow, Brown has features that make improvising easy.

ONE   Its pentatonic  (that means the tune stays on  do/re/mi/so/la)!   Set up a xylophone with only those notes, and anything played will harmonize with the tune.  Its a little music magic with a long mathematical explanation.

TWO Its short and simple.   Sing (or listen during Covid) the verse,   hum the verse,  then sing/listen again.   During the “hum”,  students in front of an instrument may play any note, in any rhythm.   When the words begin again, they stop.

autumn mapping

Add a little movement and melody mapping with everyone using their hands to follow the notes up and down  (or use hand signs).

For tips and classroom instrument rules check out the information at      About  —–   timbre/instruments.            For Covid time, students touch only the mallets (student owned pencils!)   and only one xylophone is needed per class.  Detailed ideas on how-to are found in the song material included.

last week:  pocketchart composing                                                next week:  Hallowe’en


Week 4 Pocket Chart Composing

dinner c

Flashcards in CanDoMusic are sized to mirror the length of time it takes to sing/say a rhythm.   Primary students can build a song using the flashcards in a standard metre.

In ordinary time,  or  4/4 time,  there are 4 beats in a bar and a quarter note gets a beat.    The hearts show beats.  The first heart in each bar/pocket is darker as its  “a little bit longer and a little bit stronger”.      Begin with a wordless-pocket chart and have student composers choose words for the chant.   The size of the cards will limit the words chosen to fit the metre.   Any wordless hearts are “rests”  or silence.

dinner b

For more information about pocket chart composing, and to view the available word sets,

go to    Resources   —-    Composition

or          Resources  —-   Flashcards

Word sets include display size and student sized cards for copying and sharing.