1. Ask your students to stand in a circle. Tell them that you are all going to become the engine of a racing car and that they are going to make the sound of the engine.
2. Ask your students to make the sound of an engine waiting at a traffic light. (Note: The note they pick should be relatively low in their vocal range.) Now, tell your students that you are pressing on the accelerator and that the engine is going faster. Ask them to make the sound of the engine as it is going faster. Now, ask them to go even faster. (Note: The pitch of their voices should get higher.) Ask your students to slow down the engine a little. Then, ask them to slow it down a little more. (Note: The pitch of their voices should get lower as the engine slows.) Now ask them to make the engine noise of a car waiting at a traffic light again.
3. Now, ask them to listen to what happens to their voices as they do this again. Instruct them to speed up and then slow down. Repeat this a few times. Then ask them to make the engine noise of a car waiting at a traffic light.
4. Ask them what happened to the sound of the engine as it went faster. Ask them what happened to the sound of the engine when it slowed down. Explain that as the engine went faster, the pitch got higher. As the engine went slower, the pitch got lower. Explain that the pitch is the highness or lowness of a sound.
5. Now let’s practice raising and lowering the pitch of our voices again. Raise your hand to signal them to raise the pitch of their voices. Lower your hand to signal the lowering of the pitch. Repeat this several times.
6. Now tell students that you are going to make movements with your hands to which you want them to sing along. Slowly raise your hands and then drop them. The class should slowly raise their voices and then slowly drop their voices along with your hand movements. Now, make a wavelike motion (with repeated ups and downs) and have your students follow along with their voices. Tip: If this is difficult for your students, make the sounds along with them.
7. Ask volunteers to take your place, one at a time, as the “conductor,” using their hands to signal the class to sing along to different movements and shapes. Tip: Encourage the conductors to experiment with different movements to see what they will sound like. Here are some examples of shapes that the conductors can trace in the air with their hands.
8. Now reverse the process—PLAY or sing part of a song that the students know well. Ask them to trace that song with their hands in the air.
Learning Activity 1: The shape of music
- Tell your students that you are going to play part of a song from “Peter and the Wolf” and you want them to trace the shape of the melody with their hands or bodies. PLAY the opening bars of Peter’s melody while your students listen and trace the shape of the melody with their hands or bodies.Note: PLAY the melody from the audio clip on the computer, play the following notes on an instrument, or hum them.
Tip: If your students are having trouble tracing the melody with their hands/bodies, do the movement along with them.
- After playing the music, ask your students to describe in words how the melody moves. (Possible answers: jumping; as if Peter were skipping.)
- PLAY or hum the opening bars of the Duck’s melody and ask your students to follow along, by tracing the pattern in the air with their hands or bodies.
- Discuss Duck’s melody and compare it to Peter’s melody. Here are some questions you can ask:
- How is Duck’s melody different from Peter’s melody? What are some words you can use to describe the differences? (Answer: Peter’s melody is fast and upbeat, while duck’s melody has a smoother slower beat.)
- How would you describe the pitch of Duck’s melody? Does it start by rising up or going down? (Answer: It starts by going down.) How would you describe the pitch of Peter’s melody? Does it start by rising up or going down? (Answer: It starts by going up.)
- Is Duck’s melody smooth or skipping? (Answer: It is smooth.)
- Is the Duck’s melody made up of notes of equal length or notes of different lengths? (Answer: It is made up of notes of different lengths.) Tip: If the students have trouble answering this question, PLAY the melody again and ask the students to clap on each note. You can also ask them to stand up for the longer notes and sit down for the shorter notes.
- Hand out drawing materials. PLAY Peter’s melody again and ask the students to sketch the shape of the melody as they listen to it.
- PLAY Duck’s melody again and ask the students to sketch the shape of that melody as they listen to it.
- Ask them to look at their drawing of Duck’s melody. Ask the students to discuss the patterns of the notes throughout the melody—for example, the contrast between the notes of the Duck’s melody—it starts with one long note and then six shorter ones. Ask them to look at their drawing and think of a way to show this difference in their drawings.
- Ask the students to compare the two drawings and to use their drawings to help them describe the differences between the two melodies. Optional: Show the students the printouts of the graphic representations of Peter’s melody and Duck’s melody to help them compare the two melodies.
Learning Activity 2: Moving to Music
- PLAY Bird’s melody Tell your students that in Peter and the Wolf, this music is used for one particular type of animal. Ask them to listen to this and ask them what type of animal it makes them think of. After they have guessed, let them know that in Peter and the Wolf this music is used for the bird. PLAY the music again and ask them to move as a bird might move to the music.
- Explain that the next piece of music is used along with the movements of the cat in Peter and the Wolf. PLAY Cat’s melody As the students listen to the music, ask them to move along to the melody, as if they were cats.
- After they have listened and moved to the Bird and Cat melodies, ask them to discuss the two and how their movements were different when listening to each one.
Learning Activity 3: The Pulse of Music
- Explain that everyone has a pulse. Ask the student to work in pairs and take each other’s pulse. Provide each student with the “How to Take a Pulse” tips from http://life.familyeducation.com/cpr/first-aid/48241.html?for_printing=1&detoured=1.
- Tell your students: This lesson is about music. Why do you think I just had you take your pulse? What do you think this might have to do with this lesson? Explain to your students, that just like we all have a pulse, music has a pulse too. When we play a piece of music together, we have to all feel the same pulse just like a group of soldiers who are marching together. In music, this “pulse” is called the “beat.”
- PLAY Peter’s melody again. Ask the class to walk in time to the beat of the music. As they continue walking, ask them to clap to the beat as they walk. Once they have become comfortable clapping to the beat, ask them to do a heavy clap and say, “one” when the first beat of each bar happens and softly clap and count 2, 3, 4 for the rest of the measure. After the students have become comfortable counting the beats, PLAY Peter’s melody again and ask the students to clap/step on the first beat and listen (without counting out loud) to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th beats. After the song has ended, ask the students to discuss their experiences and observations. Explain that in Peter’s melody the beats are arranged in groups of 4. Each group of 4 beats is called a “bar.”
- PLAY Duck’s melody and ask the class to walk in time to the music, stepping on each beat. After they have listened to the melody, explain that in Duck’s melody the beats are arranged in groups of 3. Each bar has 3 beats. PLAY Duck’s melody again and ask the students to clap or do a heavier step when the first beat of each bar happens and to count quietly for 2, 3. Once they have become comfortable with the counting, stop the music. Then PLAY Duck’s melody again and ask the group to continue walking to the beat, but this time just clap/step on the first beat and listen (without counting out loud) to the 2nd and 3rd beats.
- After the students have finished counting the beats, ask them how many beats were in each bar in Peter’s melody. (Answer: 4.) Then ask them how many beats were in a bar in Duck’s melody. (Answer: 3.) Explain that meter is a word that describes the organization of beats or “the pulse” of the music. Explain that the meter of Peter’s melody is 4 beats to a bar, while the meter of Duck’s melody is 3 beats to a bar.
- Review the following elements that relate to melody:
- melodic shape
- Match the Shape with the character. Post each of the large graphic representations of the melodies for grandfather, Peter, Duck, Grandfather, Bird and/or Cat in different parts of the classroom. (Feel free to post some or all of the 5 graphic representations for this activity.) PLAY part of one of the 5 melodies and ask the students to stand by the sheet that shows that melody. Now PLAY part of another melody and ask students to stand by the corresponding sheet. Do this a few more times, making sure to play each melody at least once.
- Group the students in pairs. Ask each pair to choose two instruments that sound very different from each other—for example a flute and a drum. Ask them to imagine that these instruments are two people with very different personalities. For example, one character could be shy and quiet and the other could be very outgoing and noisy. Tip: Ask them to think of two people that they know with contrasting characters.
- Ask the students to create a discussion using only the instruments they have selected. Tip: Ask the students to create a short melody with one instrument to represent one of the characters and then create another short melody with the other instrument to represent the other character.
- After they have experimented with the instruments and created their melodies, ask the students if their instruments and/or melodies are well suited to the characters they have chosen. If not, ask them to think about possibly changing them to better represent their characters.