Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Better You, A Better Me!

Producing a grade-level musical is no easy task when you have 200 students, 12 teachers and 8 different classrooms working together on the same project. These six songs - A Better You, A Better Me; Expect Respect; Trust is a Must Blues; Fight Fair; I Will Care For You; The CitizenSHIP - have been swimming around in my brain for many months. Next week, I will conduct this show eight times over the course of two days. The performance schedule is grueling, but in the end, this Herculean effort on the part of all of us is worth it. Creating life-long memories in the lives of our children is what it's all about!

I began teaching the music to the students back in January.

Our art teacher finished the set last week and "dressed" the stage for the performances.

My sound technician has spent hours with his meter trying to "dial us in" on the sound board.

It has been a frenetic week of working with props, practicing transitions, delivering lines and remembering lyrics.

"A Better You, A Better Me!" is up and running and we are very excited to present this program next week. The performance schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, June 1 at 6:00 p.m. Phillips, Pinchot, Lopez-Sinclair and Launey
Tuesday, June 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tillis/Smith
Thursday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m. Constande/Cole/Bass/Ciupak
Thursday, June 3 at 7:30 p.m. Evanko/Tsengas

The Chets Creek Recorder Club will perform pre-show music 30 minutes prior to each program.

Please make plans to join us!!

Until next time...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb

by Al Perkins is a text I use with my kindergarten classes each year. If read properly, it is filled with rhythmical patterns that can be easily transcribed into rhythmic notation.

Rhythmical books make teaching rhythmic patterns much simpler. When the cadence of the text can be translated into rhythmic notation, it can be read much easier than trying to decode the rhythmic pattern alone.

Take a look at the following picture.

On the board, I have written three patterns. Each of these patterns aligns with one page of text from the book. They are written in random order on the board.

First, I read the text from start to finish. Then I ask the students to play the patterns on the board on their "lap drums." I demonstrate the pattern; then say, "Pattern 1, ready, play" and they tap it out for me. Once they can play it fairly proficiently on their laps, I give each student a hand drum. I re-read the text. Every time I read a page that has a matching pattern on the board, I point to the notation on the board and everyone plays.

Assessment is done at the end of the class. I play the patterns on the board in random order and ask which pattern did I just play? If I have 80% accuracy on the assessment, I am very pleased.

Aural, visual and kinesthetic modalities are all used in this lesson and the students are actually reading simple rhythmic patterns which have now been tied to speech. Aligning the visual cue on the board with the aural cue from the book is good for ear-training. It is Orff instruction at its core.

"hand, hand, fingers, thumb; dum-ditty-dum-ditty dum, dum, dum - Pattern 1, Ready, Play..." Give it a try on your lap drum and see how you do!

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recorder Club and TPC at JIA

Today was an exciting day for The Chets Creek Recorder Club. We took a field trip to Jacksonville International Airport to perform for crowds of golf officianados passing through the airport on their way to the Tournament Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach. The students were very excited to see Paul Azinger (PGA Professional) autographing golf gloves and copies of his new book under the TPC tent.

We have been preparing for this musical adventure for the past eight weeks.

We've been rehearsing after school and working on the art of improvisation in one of our jazz pieces (a new and sometimes challenging musical skill). We showcased four soloists today (a first for us!) and the audience seemed to really enjoy our choreographed number. Have you ever seen "recorder digs?" :)

Waiting for our turn to perform.

Our fan following included moms, dads, grannies, grandpas and a little old lady from South Carolina that made her way over to me at the conclusion of our performance. She wanted me to know that she had driven down to Jacksonville to drop someone off at the airport and had no idea that she would get to enjoy "live" entertainment on her trip! "Marvelous Marvine" even dropped by to lend her support!

Miss Lambros returned to assist me with the trip today and conduct one of the pieces in our program. I am always very grateful when Miss Lambros can show up for the fun!

A big "Thank You!" to Ms. Debbie Jones (Community Relations Administrator at JIA) for believing in us and inviting us back for a command performance! We played there in December as part of the airport's "Holiday Fest" and she is always a most gracious host.

Many thanks to our parents who gave up their morning to help transport kids and equipment. Without their assistance, musically enriching experiences such as this would not be possible.

Until next time...