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winding down, and an activity I think went well

transitfan's picture

Today was my last music-reading mini-course of the semester, and it was certainly mini, with two of four students present. I wonder if the two that didn't show even knew it was the last class. I'll email them later. Although it was a little rushed, I taught just about everything I needed to teach in this mini-course. They didn't learn all their intervals, and although I suggested they work on the last few on their own, I'm pretty confident that they will not. One said that he is going to start taking piano lessons again, though, and I think my class will be useful for that. If I had known, I might have focused less on skills that would be useful mainly for singers (namely, intervals.) This was my most reliable student, having missed only one class. I feel like they all did pretty well; none stuck out as especially quick but I'm sure they could all pick up music theory again should be wish to pursue it further. The people who missed classes will have missed some other relatively important concepts; I could schedule a make-up, I guess. But the concepts are quick and simple; and frankly they probably know enough by now to be able to learn the music that was assigned in chorale.

At Boatley, I still have three more weeks because I started late; I'll go during exam week to get the right number of hours. Thus it doesn't feel like I'm that close to ending. I've really enjoyed my time; the past week I've been rather tense and stressful overall but teaching elementary schoolers has been, if nothing else, a wonderful distraction. Today I did a different sort of activity to tie into the 5th graders' non-music studies, and while there were some problems in the first section of students; the second section went really well:

Fifth-graders have started a long, multidisciplinary study of Ancient Greek which will continue for the rest of the year. Music doesn't fit perfectly into this because we don't have any Ancient Greek music. We can argue that in fact Classical music is inspired by ancient Greek mathematical ideas, but just putting on a concert of Classical music obviously wouldn't fit the bill. Ms. Presley will teach the students a more modern Greek folksong and a Greek dance.

Today, I led a vocal-warmup involving following the contours of images from Greece with our voices. The students sat in chairs aimed toward the projector where my PowerPoint was on display. The students came in noisily so Ms. Presley told them to go back out and asked me to tell them when they were quiet enough to re-enter, which was a little awkward.

I didn't explain the warm-up that well to the first group, and the first image was really tricky; a map of Greece. The subsequent images—Mount Olympus, a coastline, and a subway map in Athens—were much easier and more successful. (I included the Athens subway map because as I recall the way ancient civilizations are taught there is a disconnect from the modern, and I wanted to show that Athens is still a major city.)

I asked students why it would be tricky to sing Ancient Greek music and they correctly answered that it's because we can't read it. Then I showed them some pictures of Greek instruments, and asked what modern instruments might have grown out of these. They struggled with one, which I realized was because it wasn't a very good picture.

I didn't have a good conclusion to the activity, so I turned over to Ms. Presley who taught them a new song that has nothing to do with Greece.

The second time, I talked about ancient Greece first, then did the vocal warm-up, which made more sense so that they would be singing Ms. Presley's song right after they were done warming up. I also switched the order of the images so that the tricky map of Greece was last. This was a huge important; and they sounded quite well.