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Friday, December 25, 2015

Music Stocking Stuffer Freebies

Merry Christmas to all!  Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, most of us enjoy receiving gifts.  Here are a few freebies to get your new year started.

First, a fun music history and dance activity that is great for older students.  It is also great for African American History month.  The Big Apple was a dance craze in 1937 that did NOT begin in New York City as you might guess.  The dance began at an African American dance club in Columbia, South Carolina.  

This freebie is available in both PowerPoint and Smart Notebook formats, and includes brief historical information, photos, links to historical videos, and also links to YouTube dance tutorials.

PowerPoint Version:

Smart Notebook Version: 

Next, a free instruments of the orchestra "write the room" sampler.  I am working on plans to take my fourth graders to the symphony in February, so I really want them to know the names of the instruments that they will be hearing.  The sampler includes several student worksheets and directions for conducting the lesson.  You will need to use your own pictures of the instruments with this free  sampler version.  

Write the Room - Instruments of the Orchestra Sampler:

Finally, I would like to call attention to a post from December, 2014.  Winter Concert Reflections reminds us that it is important to reflect on our work.  While this Concert Reflection sheet may be too late for your winter concert, the free download is not seasonal and may be used before or after any concert.

I hope you are enjoying your break from school.  Get some rest, check out some freebies, and have a freshly energized start to 2016!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back to the Future...

I have been feeling the stress of all of the beginning of the year responsibilities, and now concert prep responsibilities are added on top.   Really.  Why does everything have to be done the hard way?!   I think it is time for a little fun!

A group of music friends and I were chatting and realized we all had a mutual love for all things "Back to the Future."  Did you remember that when Marty McFly traveled to the future, he traveled to October 21, 2015?  That's today!  Where are the flying cars and hover boards?  Our conversation was very lively and fun as we remembered the movie scenes and noticed the differences with our real world.

Great Scott!  It's a Sale!

To share the fun, we are each marking one product down to $1.21 (for 1.21 gigawatts - go watch the movie!).

My sale item is Sunflowers Smiling, an original chant in 5/8 meter.  This is JUST the thing that YOUR future self would tell you to buy NOW! :)

Sunflowers Smiling has great possibilities for movement and getting students acculturated to an unusual meter.  Add scarves for a fun prop!

Your purchase includes colorful slides for teaching the lyrics, the sheet music with rhythmic notation, and lesson suggestions.  You can find this at my Teachers Pay Teachers store:

Giveaway & Shop Hop

While $1.21 sale items is a pretty good deal, we wanted this to be a little bigger and better.  We decided to come together to give away 3 gift cards to Teachers Pay Teachers.  Great Scott!  That's a great deal!

Here is how to enter the giveaway:

Well, you don't really have to build all of that, but there are a few steps to follow!  

1.  Start at Pitch Publications to get your first letter.  Be sure to write the letters down so you have the when you come back to the Rafflecopter.

2.  Then click the green "follow" button at each store while you are there.  Take a minute or two to check out some of the great products in each store!

3.  Now click  on the letter to go to the next store and get the letter, etc...There should be 19 letters total.

4.  Once you have the secret code, come back here and to put in the final code and enter!

Then, click here to find all the amazing deals going on today only!  Good luck and thanks for all the support you give!

#tptmusic #musictpt #elmused #btfmusic #tptmusictribe

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 7, 2015

Behind the Scenes at the Carnival of the Animals: Tempo

This is a blog post on Sally's Sea of Songs highlighting strategies for using Carnival of the Animals to teach the concept of tempo.

Every year we take all of the 2nd graders in our district to see a performance of the Carnival of the Animals.  A few years ago the Visual & Performing Arts department worked with a theatre artist to create a new storyline to go along with the symphony performance.  It is much more engaging now, even getting the 2nd graders involved singing along with specially written lyrics to the Lion and the Elephant movements. It is great to be able to offer the experience of a live professional orchestra & professional theatre performance to all of our students.  

There are 14 movements in the Carnival of the Animals, counting the introduction and the finale.  Considering that we also have to teach appropriate audience behavior and talk about field trip forms, covering everything can take a lot of teaching time.  I want to look at Saint-Saëns music carefully to see what music concepts can be taught or supported through listening and moving.

Tempo is a great concept to include at the beginning of the 2nd grade year.  We have been reviewing steady macrobeats in duple, triple, and unusual meters, and chanting rhythm patterns in duple and triple meters.  It is a simple step to change the tempos to create interest and keep students engaged.

We began the tempo lesson by singing a familiar song, both with an accompaniment track and with our unaccompanied voices.  Then I pulled out a metronome to tap a steady beat, and we sang to match that beat.  If you don't have a physical metronome, use an online metronome such as this one:  After several students took turns changing the tempo on the metronome we had a short discussion on which speed was best for that song, followed by the definition of tempo as the speed of the beat.

Because this is 2nd grade and the beginning of the year, we focused on only 3 speeds: fast, moderate and slow.

Next, we reviewed the definition of a composer as a music writer. 

I introduced Camille Saint-Saëns as the composer of the Carnival of the Animals.  A few years ago I created this short video to help with this introduction:

 You can find this video here:

or here:

After we remembered the facts about Saint Saens’s life, we made a prediction about what Tempo he would have chosen  for a song about Wild Horses (or Wild Donkeys as many call it).  I made a checklist  screen to guide this section, and then another YouTube video with a Claymation video of the Wild (Donkeys). 



(if  anyone finds a better video, please share!)  We listened to this again, moving our hands fast in KumBaYah type circles, up and down as the pitches move up and  down.

I followed the same pattern for a slow movement, Cuckoo in the Woods.  Checklist, watch video, listen again with hand  movements.  I plan to listen to this one again next week and have the students move around the classroom matching their feet to the music, pausing to listen to the cuckoo.

Also next week, I will review the Tempo definition and introduce the Tortoise movement by first introducing the Can Can.  I found this YouTube video for the Beethoven’s Wig version of the Can Can (with silly lyrics).  



Saint Saens was from France, and certainly knew the Can Can, so that tie-in reminds students of where he lived.  We listen, determine the tempo, and of course we get up and do the dance!  When they are good and  tired, we sit and think about how a tortoise moves, could a tortoise dance, and what would it look  like if  a tortoise was doing the Can Can.  We have already been up kicking our legs, so I ask them to Can Can with their hands as if it were the front legs of the tortoise,  listening all the time for the Can Can melody at a slow tempo in the double bass. 

This year, we are fortunate to have access to the Quaver curriculum, and I have found a couple of Quaver resources to get me started.  First Grade Lesson 22 is on basic tempos.  (You can change  the Welcome screen to say 2nd Grade in just 3 clicks from the Tools menu, bottom right of screen.)  I decided to start  out with this lesson, doing the first 3 activities just as they are, then we will use a couple of Quaver's tempo IWB activities.   I added several screens and videos as listed above right in to the Quaver lesson.  Nice!  Adding the videos as screens in Quaver means that you avoid all of the ads and the extra previews around the screen.  Your students will only see what you want them to see.  Use the option to create safe links if you do not have access to Quaver. I have included these links for the videos listed in this post for your convenience.  

I hope this gives you an idea of how to use the Carnival music to support music concepts.  Please share your ideas!


This is a blog post on Sally's Sea of Songs highlighting strategies for using Carnival of the Animals to teach the concept of tempo.

What's on Your Wall - Check Out the Music Room!

We spend so much time in our classrooms - they need to be beautiful and functional!  Thank you to The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King for suggesting that we share our music rooms with everyone.  Here is a peek at my beginning-of-school bulletin boards.

I am very fortunate to have a huge long bulletin board on one wall of the classroom.  I have found it easier to manage when I separate it into four separate sections.  Here is the "work in progress" pic of all four sections:

The first section, the prime real estate, contains the terms associated with meter and tonality because we work with those terms all the time.

The second section will get changed every so often.  We're starting out the year with steady beat and tempo, so I decided to get my Tempo Cats out again this year.  They are quite old, but I take them out of the rotation some years so that when I do use them, they are new, especially to the younger students.  Please check out my 2nd Grade tempo lesson ideas using music from the Carnival of the Animals!  Here is the link:  Behind the Scenes at the Carnival of the Animals - Tempo.

Next, is my Composer of the Month section.  Well, truthfully, it is just the Composer section.  I don't always get it changed every month!  My district has specified certain composers that each grade level should focus on, so I do get at least 6 different composers up during the course of the year.  This year, I am starting out with the great set on Bach from Music with Sara Bibee. The picture of Bach and the organ poster come from very old sets of composer & instrument posters.  I think they have been in my room for 20 years!

The last section of this long board contains my movement words based on Laban's basic efforts.  It is good for students to be able to verbalize what they are doing, and having these words available adds appropriate terminology to our class discussions.   

In the front of the classroom, right next to the SmartBoard, are the MUSIC rules and I CAN statements.  The I CAN statements are new to me this year.  I put them up with magnets because I am really unsure if I want all of them to stay up all year, or if I should just put the focus statements up.  You can read about my pack rat magnet success here.

All of these word wall words (and more), music rules, and coordinating binder covers are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.  

Now, perhaps you noticed that I didn't share any pics of shelves or desk or closet.  There's a reason for that! :)  I'm going to be looking through all of the other links for some great organizing ideas to get my paperwork under control!  You can check out the other music rooms by clicking on the picture below.  Thanks for taking my tour!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Wish & Dish Linky Party

Today I am linking up with Music A La Abbott & Mrs. Miracle's Music Room to highlight some products that I love this Back To School season.

The big TeachersPayTeachers Back to School Sale is coming soon and many stores, including mine, will be on sale for 20% off.  Using the special code BTS15 during checkout will get you an extra discount!

With the sale coming soon, there are some things that will help you get ready to make the most of it.  First, "dish" out the feedback on prior purchases.  This not only helps sellers to know which of their products are the most useful, but it also gives YOU credit for future purchases.  You will earn 1 credit for each dollar spent and 20 credits are worth $1 towards a future purchase.

Here is how to earn your credits:  Log in to your TeachersPayTeachers account.  Click on My TPT and select My Purchases. From there, the easiest thing to do is sort your purchases.  Select the drop-down arrow next to Sort By, and select Needs Feedback.

Now that you have "dished" out that feedback, let's make some wishes.

I really love that feeling of starting fresh!  That is part of the enchantment of New Year's celebrations.  For teachers and students, Back To School time gives us that same exciting, fresh start feeling.  You may have noticed that I teach in a year-round school, so I am already back at it.  I would like to share some things that I am loving in my fresh start for this school year.

MUSIC Rules and MUSIC Word Wall

I have had a version of these up in my room for a few years, but they were PLAIN!  After spending some time on Teachers Pay Teachers, I finally decided to remake my rules and word wall words so they were easy to print and didn't require me to find construction paper to make a frame.  I wanted frame & words all in one easy-to-print package.  

The rules come in both portrait and landscape versions, so you can choose what will work best for your space.  The Word Wall words come in either 2 per page version or 3 per page version.  I confess that I chose to make my headings from the larger size and the words under the headings from the smaller size to clarify.  You could also mix & match the colors to keep your board interesting.

My room has teal carpeting, and I have been using a teal, purple, and black color theme.  Because everyone has different tastes, I added in some additional color choices to the TPT product.  Here is one of my word wall boards:
Back to School Love!

Joe DO and Mona LA

I am so excited to get the visuals to these awesome songs that help students audiate the resting tones in major and minor tonality.  These songs were written by Jennifer Bailey at SingToKids, an awesome music teacher and MLT expert. I learned them from her, and have used them in my classes, but now she has published these awesome visuals to accompany the songs.  I am really looking forward to using them this year!

Back to School Love!

Move to Music Clip Art

I purchased this Move to Music clip art set from Educlips.  She has several wonderful sets for music teachers that are very useful for everything from PowerPoints to bulletin boards to worksheets.  As you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a well done picture can save you a lot of explaining.  You might notice that I used some clips from this set in my movement board above.  

With this set of clip art, I can pick only the images that I need.  It is easy for me to insert the image on to a blank PowerPoint or Keynote slide and enlarge it to fill the page.  I can combine images if that helps to make my musical point, then print them as full size slides.  Now, I know that color ink is expensive, but have you ever gone to the teacher store and tried to buy bulletin board sets on music concepts?  They are expensive, too!  And they don't often have the kind of music images that I would like to use.  If I back up my digital files, I will always have these images, and once the printed images get worn, or when I want to change the board, I can print new ones with only the expense of the ink and paper.  I think that I save money in the long run by purchasing good quality music clip art from some of the awesome artists on TeachersPayTeachers.

Back to School Love!

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to click on the Wish & Dish image above to visit other blogs participating in the linky party.  There's enough Back to School Love for everyone!


Back to School Music Fun!

Summer's gone, here comes the bus!  The first lessons of the school year are often heavily loaded with class rules and procedures.  I know our students need structure, but a full class of rules is boring and this is MUSIC class!  My preference is to be sure there is some active music making right from lesson #1.  Reading and chanting rhythm patterns is a part of each music lesson, so I include the Back-To-School theme to rhythm reading during my first few lessons.  

Rhythm Reading

By collecting a group of common back to school sayings and "translating" them into rhythmic notation that my students are familiar with, I can get my students reading & reviewing familiar rhythm patterns right from the start.  I like to project these patterns on the SmartBoard for easy group viewing and chanting.  Younger students will echo my own chanting of the pattern, older students will read the pattern for themselves. Then chant the pattern with neutral syllables or the rhythm syllables of your choice.  This second step helps children to realize that words can create rhythms.
In the following example, the words are chanted with a steady beat in duple meter:
Teacher: Summer, summer, summer's gone.
Students Summer, summer, summer's gone.
Teacher: ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, bah
Students: ba-ba, ba-ba, ba-ba, bah
Teacher: du-de, du-de, du-de, du
Students:du-de, du-de, du-de, du

Music Arranging

There are several ways to turn this simple reading practice into a composition activity.  This first example will focus on arranging the teacher ideas.  Print the sayings on cards, laminate for durability, then display at the front of your classroom on the chalk tray or music stands.  Ask students to arrange the cards in the way they sound the best.  Each class may have a different arrangement.  This gives the students some creative control, allows for discussion of the difference between a composer and an arranger, both music careers. Chant the phrases, then chant with rhythm syllables.  Finish by playing the arrangement on rhythm instruments.  

Musical Form

Choose four back to school phrases and work as a class to create a rondo form.  Of course the class will have to decide which pattern will be the "A" section that repeats.  Perhaps the class could create movement for this phrase together, then small groups of students could be assigned one of the remaining patterns to create movement.  Put all of this together for a class performance.  This can all be accomplished during one music class and demonstrated for the classroom teacher at the end.  Extend this idea by adding rhythm instruments.  

Complementary Rhythms

Define complementary rhythms and determine which pairs of cards may be complementary.  Rhythms may be considered complementary when one pattern is moving while another pattern is keeping steady.  The first two patterns in the photo below could be considered complementary:

Create a group performance by layering in your favorite complementary patterns.  With younger students, this might mean choosing only two patterns.  Older students may be able to maintain 3, 4 or 6 patterns at the same time.  Add a conducting component to this activity!  Select a student to bring groups in or out of the performance, then discuss thick and thin texture, and which patterns sounded the best together and why.  (Analyze and explain:  higher order thinking in the music room!)

Melodic Composition

If you have access to Orff instruments, tone bells, or other melody instruments, combine them with the back to school phrases and procedures for small group work to create a melodic composition.  I am blessed to have a large number of Orff xylophones, so that is my instrument of choice.  Divide the class into groups of four students.  Give each group one phrase worksheet and one melodic instrument.  I chose C pentatonic when setting up my Orff instruments.

Students should work together to create a melody for their phrase and record it in the grid. Because I wanted students to be able to sing the melodies, I asked students to experiment playing and singing what they played to find a pattern that they liked, then write it down.  Use whatever symbols your students are ready for in their compositions.  Because reading and writing melodic notation was not one of my objectives, I chose to ask students to record the letter names taken from the Orff instrument bars in each box.

Giving each student in the group a job can facilitate smoother group interactions.  For example one student plays, one student sings what was played, one student notices the letter names of the melody and calls them out to the fourth student who writes them down.  Switch jobs and write another version, etc.  When the group has created four versions of the phrase, they should sing them again and decide which one they would like to select for their group performance.  Of course, editing and combining versions would be allowed!  Create a group performance by sequencing the small groups.  

Additional hints on using a grid for music composition may be found here.

To Make or Purchase?

That is the question.  You do not need to purchase anything to do this activity!  A sharpie and some card stock will get you through that first day quite nicely.  I can say this from personal experience.  An IWB file with the phrases pre-typed on a page could lead to a short lesson on decoding the rhythm patterns by listening.  Write the rhythms by hand on your IWB, then on to any of the other choices listed above.

If you do not have time for even this (no judging - we have LOTS to get ready for the first day of school!!!!),  you can purchase my set of slides, printable cards and worksheets in my TpT store here:  

Here's to making back to school MUSICAL!


Friday, July 31, 2015

Need a Magnet? Pack Rat Success

I've been working on bulletin boards and room decor this past week because my school started TODAY!  I was scrambling to get my "I Can" statements posted and figured out that they would fit nicely on a section of my magnetic "whiteboard" that I don't use often.  I was contemplating a trip to the teacher store to find some color coordinated magnets when I remembered that I had a stash of old school calendar magnets in the back of the closet.

Many businesses are using magnets as promotional items to promote their business. Sometimes they have extras from a specific event or last year's calendar, and would be happy to donate.

First I plugged in the hot glue gun.  These old calendars happen to be about 3"x5", so I cut them into pieces with some sharp scissors.

A little hot glue was all it took to recycle these calendar magnets and get my "I Can" statements posted.  

All done!

I hope you enjoyed this quick tip!