Monday, October 26, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Keyboard

Musical keyboard poster

I made this giant keyboard poster labeled with letter names to help make connections between the notes on the string instruments and the notes on the keyboard.  The white paper is cut from a large roll of paper, and the black is construction paper.

Musical keyboard poster

Musical keyboard poster

Monday, October 12, 2015

Music Literacy Word Wall



Music literacy word wall words for orchestra room


 
There are lots of new words for beginning band and orchestra students, so I made a music literacy word wall where students can see these words in a prominent spot in the room spelled correctly and with a picture.  They are roughly grouped together by topic and then get added to the wall once we cover them in class.  Here's a partial listing of the words, no pictures, sorry:


It's exciting to see students scan the word wall to try and find the answer to a question of the week or to use the wall as a reference when writing compositions and needing to check how to draw a certain musical symbol.  They know that the words are there as a handy visual reference for them.


Music literacy word wall words for orchestra room



Music literacy word wall words for orchestra room
Music literacy word wall words for orchestra room


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Composition #2--Pizzicato D-string Notes


Beginning orchestra composition check-list

My beginners' second composition of the school year is still pizzicato, but it includes the D-string notes, which they have just learned.  Again, I type these all up so that students can see their piece in print and try out their classmates' compositions.

Composition #2 (D-string notes, pizzicato)

Enjoy!

Link to Composition #1 (open strings, pizzicato)


Monday, October 5, 2015

Storage Bins

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

I keep my supplies clearly labeled so students can easily find what they're looking for and put it back where it belongs.  I have containers for:

  • Pencils
  • Rock stops
  • Rosin
  • Tubes (to help with beginning bow holds)
  • Cloths
  • Shoulder rests
  • Strings
  • Miscellaneous supplies


Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom


Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Labels of supply bins for orchestra classroom

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Composition #1--Pizzicato Open Strings

Composition Packet--pizzicato open strings

Composition is an important component of my students' experience in orchestra.  From the very beginning of the school year, students are composing music that they can play on their instruments and that their classmates can play too.  I use composition as a way for students to dive into music literacy and to reinforce what they are learning about reading music.  It is an opportunity for students to be creative and actually create music to play instead of just read what others have written.  They start identifying as composers as well as string players.  It's very gratifying to see how different all the compositions are from each other within the limitations I've placed for them (open strings, pizzicato, four measures, quarter notes/rests).  I do type up everyone's compositions and turn them into packets so students can see what their classmates have created, see their own piece in print (they are published composers by the end of September!), and have lots of pieces to practice at home.  We also feature a few student compositions at our winter concert.  In their end-of-the-year orchestra surveys, there are always students who write that what they are most proud of with their work in orchestra that year are their compositions.

My example composition plus check-list







Composition #1 (open strings, pizzicato):





Enjoy!

Supplements: Extra Music for Orchestra Expressions Method Book


Orchestra Expressions supplement sample


I really like the Orchestra Expressions method book for beginning orchestra.  It was designed with the National Standards for the Arts in Music in mind, includes music from many different parts of the world, includes pictures of children demonstrating proper playing position, begins with the fourth finger and works down to promote good LH position, and connects to other disciplines and history through timelines and art connections.  It encourages improvisation, conducting, listening, movement, composition, as well as proper technique from the start.  I especially like the authentic, varied recordings on the CD that accompany each piece in the book.  They are performed on real instruments, and there are so many different genres of music represented on the recordings.  I could go on and on about why I chose to use this method book with my beginning students.

But, as with any method book, there are a few weaknesses.  Instead of introducing all four open strings at once, the book begins with just the three that all the string instruments share (A, D, G) and leaves E and C until much later in the book.  The 3/4 time signature also isn't introduced until much later in the book.

To address these issues, I wrote a short supplement packet that corresponds to the beginning of the book but includes the C/E strings and the 3/4 time signature.  I also added some harmony parts to familiar tunes that students can sing along to while they're playing.  Feel free to use with your students!

Orchestra Expressions Supplement:

Once students have learned their D string notes, I give them a packet of familiar melodies they are ready to play, including a few with B on the A string.  Students enjoy playing these familiar tunes, and they are a bit more rhythmically varied than their books at this point.

D String Notes Supplement:

Enjoy!