Greetings parents of SWSM and Happy New Year! I’ve had a great time teaching music in the classroom this year, and I’m excited to tell you what we have been up to.
This school year I decided to spend more time on each aspect of music we had been working on. The basic components are rhythm, musical terms such as tempo (speed) and dynamics (volume), listening and melody/pitch. The main activities around rhythm include a game called Sweet Beets where they build their own rhythms as a class and then we clap the sound of that rhythm together. I’d say rhythm is the most important aspect of music, which is why we sing the Sweet Beets song at the beginning and ending of each class.
More work on rhythm consists of playing the hand drums where I introduce the principles of listening. At first it may seem easy to listen to music, but the work we do shows them not only how to “hear” the music but to follow and interact to what the music is doing. We play the drums in different tempos (speed) and dynamics (volumes); and most everyone enjoys playing as a group, including me! I bring three smaller hand drums for the children and one big one for me, and we do what I call drum circle. We also participate in a group playing activity where I play my guitar while the group drumming play along. I change the tempo and play specific rhythms, and I’m always amazed at how well they can follow along.
The first half of the school year I focused only on the aspects above. Now that we are into the second half, we will work with bells. The bells are a wonderful and common instrument in the Montessori classroom. This is where we work with melody and hearing the notes (higher or lower). The kids will also play in small groups on the bells, and I hope to have them playing a song as a group by the end of the year. I will, of course, bring back the drums from time to time as I don’t want them to forget what we have learned so far.
I’m now in my fourth year teaching music class at SWSM, and it has been a great experience for me! Thank you so much for having me be a part of your child’s day. I’m at the point of getting to know the children from the very beginning of their time here in toddler class all the way until they graduate kindergarten. As I may have mentioned in past articles, I also enjoy that my son Cohen was able and now Anders is able to see me to do my job; and our music class day is a special one. Since I get a lunch break between the morning and afternoon classes, it’s been my tradition to take my son out to lunch with me . . . his pick! Usually it’s the same place each week. It’s a good thing Hound Dogs stayed in business until Cohen graduated from kindergarten. Luckily for Anders there is no chance of Portillo’s (Portilly’s as we call it) going out of business or running out of chocolate cake. Thanks again for great start to 2019!