Today’s lesson in Mrs. Young’s class (2-27-2015)



Hot Cross Buns image Today I told the children that I had been on an airplane last week flying to California. I asked them how fast an airplane flies. FAST! It has to fly fast, I explained, with all the weight it is carrying. How heavy is an airplane? VERY heavy, I answered (after they did), especially with all of those people on it! The engines have to be going very fast to create enough lift to get the heavy airplane up into the air!

“Today we’re going to learn about speed in music,” I prepared. “But first, let’s review.” We warmed up on a Solfa scale, singing with our voices and hands the solfège signs as we sang an ascending and descending scale. (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do Do Ti La Sol Fa Mi Re Do). Then I held up Hot Cross Buns (Hot Cross Buns Solfa dots or Hot Cross Buns dots ). We sang the song once using our hands and Solfa signs, and then we sang it again counting each note in song.

Next, we talked about the weather. I asked what kind of weather we had had this winter so far: DRY. What happens when we don’t get enough snow or rain? We can have a DROUGHT. Droughts are no fun, because we need water to live! We need water to grow the fruits and vegetables we eat! We need water to help the grass grow that the cows eat to be able to produce milk  so that we can drink milk and eat cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream! We need water to help the wheat grow so we can eat bread, crackers, cookies, and cakes!

Rain, Rain with Solfa dots image

I put up this Song Garden version of “Rain, Rain Go Away.” I asked them to sing it with me. We sang it in Solfa first. I asked if anyone recognized this melody? Someone did! We sang the folk song with the usual lyrics. (Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. etc.)

Then I put up these lyrics.Rain, Rain lyrics

We sang through this song a couple of times. Then I clapped the tempo for how fast we were singing it. Our teacher became a metronome, and I pulled up my metronome app on my phone. I showed the children what a metronome looks like (at least on an app!), and ironically, we were singing at 112 bpm, which was where the metronome had been set the last time I used it! I explained that beats per minute means how many 1-beat notes are in a minut

Speed limit tempoe.

Next I held this page up and asked what it was. The children recognized it as a speed limit sign. I asked them what it meant. Some of them knew that it tells us how fast a car is allowed to go on a street.

I explained that in music, there is something called tempo, which tells us how fast to play a song. Tempo markings, I explained, are words often written at the beginning of a piece of music that tell you how fast (or slowly) to play a piece. These words are often in Italian. Italian, I asked, is spoken where? In Italy. “Yes! Where do we live? Which language do we speak? Does anyone speak any other languages? Tell us a word in Spanish (etc.).”

moderato sheet music example

I held up an example of some sheet music with a tempo marking and pointed it out for all to see. I told them I was going to teach them 3 Italian words that are tempo markings. I put these signs up one at a time and explained them to the children.

“Adagio is slow. Say, “Adagio.” We repeated it three times. “Look up at the clock,” I motioned. “See the red second hand moving around. Tick, tock, goes the clock. Tick, tock, goes the clock,” I said, to the beat of the second hand.tempo markings lesson adagio moderato prestissimo

Adagio is like walking. Walk in your spot with me. Tick, tock, goes the clock.” We walked in place for a few moments. Then we sang “Rain, Rain” at that tempo.

Moderato is TWICE as fast as adagio, which means that there are TWO beats for every time the second hand goes ‘Tick, Tock.’ Let’s move the metronome up to 120 bpm and see how fast that would be.” I changed the setting and played it for them. It’s like the speed of marching in a parade,” I told them. “March, march, march, march. March in place like you are marching in a parade.” “I can march on my feet, I can march down the street, I can march in the big parade,” I sang, an excerpt from a song from my childhood. We sang “Rain, Rain” at the new tempo.

Prestissimo is THREE TIMES as fast as adagio! That means there are THREE beats for every time the second hand goes ‘Tick, Tock.'” I repeated the metronome change to 180 bpm, and we ran in place at that speed. Then we sang “Rain, Rain” at the new tempo.


We all sat down again. I pulled out these mini signs and said we were going to play a little game to test them on their tempo markings. While shuffling the cards, I told them I would hold up a word, and they needed to say if it was “slow, medium or fast” and then say the word. I held one up in the air quickly. “Slow! Adagio!” they cheered. We continued until we had reviewed each new word a few times.

We had 10 minutes left. I sent the children to get their bells and head to their tables. I handed out a piece of paper to each child and told them that they had 3 minutes to write a song. Any notes! Any words if they wanted words! They started. I told them when they had 1 minute left. Before we starting our performances, I told them we needed to be sure to practice good audience manners! That means they need to be quiet as mice while the person is performing. “That means you can’t lean over to your neighbor and talk or whisper loudly. You give your whole attention to the performer.” When the person is done, they clap until the performer has bowed. I modeled a bow. I also mentioned that if you are in a wheelchair, you can do a seated bow and explained that performers who sometimes give a seated bow include cellists and harpists.

Then I went around the room and let one child at a time share. One child from each table shared, and then I went back around. Not everyone got to share, so I collected the papers to pull out next week.

Here are some of the children’s compositions:

IMG_0127 - Version 2 IMG_0126 - Version 2 IMG_0125 - Version 2 IMG_0123 - Version 2 IMG_0121 - Version 2 IMG_0120 - Version 2 IMG_0119 - Version 2 Children's Song Gardens Feb.27, 2015

The children LOVED performing! I had more volunteers than time to let them share, but we had SUCH a great time. Like one boy said after, when I told him how proud I was of him, he said, “It was awesome!”

We sang our goodbye song, collected the songs, and put our bells away.

Today’s lesson in Mrs. Graham’s AM class (DMK 2-13-15)


I started off by asking the kids if they new how sound was created.

– I introduced them to vibration and showed this video clip I downloaded from online:

After the video I showed them a simple example of the things they sang about in the video. First, I had a mini bread pan wrapped with several different sizes of rubber bands. We talked about how the different sizes of rubber bands caused them to vibrate at different rates and therefore at different pitches.
Tighter=faster vibration= higher pitch/ More Loose=slower vibration=lower pitch

I then showed them the same effect on my ukulele.


I had the kids hum and feel the vibration occurring in their necks, then in their faces on and around their nose.

I taught them about their vocal chords and how they are like a set of rubber bands that vibrate, then how the air resonates in the throat, mouth, and facial cavities.

I brought a clear cup of water and a small tuning fork. First, I explained how the tuning fork worked and how the invisible sound waves hitting each other in between the tongs would create a tone. I hit it and let each child individually hear the tone. Then I explained that when I hit the tuning fork and put it in the water, those same invisible waves would disrupt the surface of the water and they could essentially “see” the vibrations working. I hit the tuning fork and put in the water for small groups at a time. They were so excited by the whole tuning fork thing.

Then I played this video clip from The Magic School Bus to reinforce what we had just learned. They loved it:

Finally, I showed them how to make a straw kazoo and how when you change the length of the straw by cutting it smaller, the pitch gets higher and higher. As my “valentine”, I gave each of them a straw with a little slip of paper that had the website address to watch a video that shows how to make it and how it works. That clip is here:

(This lesson was taught by Mrs. Barkdull.)

Today’s lesson in Mrs. Young’s class (DMK 2/13/15): Valentine’s Song

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I had told the children last week that we would write a Valentine’s song. “Can we give it to our mom and dad?” one student questioned eagerly. “Yes!” I confirmed. “You can write it for anyone you want!”

Valentine's song

We sang our welcome (theme) song, and then I reviewed what we’d learned in the last two weeks for about 4 minutes. First, I went over beat. “Beat is a steady beat that stays the same and keeps going,” I clapped over my heart. “1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4.” I said aloud. The children joined it. “You can cover your ear to hear the beat!” one student remembered aloud. “You can also feel it on your heart!” another girl chimed in. “Yes!” I encouraged.

“Then we have rhythm. What is different about rhythm?” I asked. One student responded, “It’s like this!” and tapped out a rhythm on her legs with varying note values. “Yes!” I agreed. “Some notes are short,” I gestured with my hands showing a short horizontal length, “while other notes are longer,” showing a wider space between my hands, “and some notes are longest!” I showed them with my hands about a yard wide apart. “Do you remember our song?” I pulled out “Hot Cross Buns” again, asking the teacher to be our metronome. She clapped our steady beat while we sang. I reminded the students, by pointing to the notes, which notes were 1 beat, which were 2 beats, and which were 4 beats long. We sang it together while I showed the number of each beat in each note.

Then I asked them about melody. “Which one is the melody?” The notes we sang just now, or the other notes we played last week that sounded good? “The notes we sang!” answered one boy. “That’s right!” I told them. And who remembers what the harmony is? “The other notes we played called ‘accompaniment.’ ” “Yes! Wow! Another name for harmony is accompaniment, and it is the notes that sound good with the melody! Does anyone remember which note we played that sounded good with Hot Cross Buns?” “Sol!” a child responded. They remember so well! It is just amazing. I love it!

Then I modeled how to write a song. “We’re going to write our song today. You will have a paper on your desk, and you can write ‘To:’ at the top and put whoever’s name you want to give it to there. Then you can write ‘From:’ and put your name there. Then you need to pick some notes. Hmm. I think I like the notes sol, mi, do.” I played smd. “I could either write s m d on my page, or I could color the notes. Which colors do I use?” I colored a blue dot, a yellow dot, and a red dot. “Then I think I’ll play it again, so I need to write it again.” I colored the dots on my “page” on the white board.

“Now I want to put some words with my notes. I think I like the words, ‘I love you.’ Then I could say, ‘Yes, I do!’ and it would rhyme. That would work!” I wrote the words under the notes. Then I decided which notes to use for my second line and wrote them up under the board, followed by the lyrics below, “I love you. You love me, too!”

I played my song one more time on my bells and sang the words, too. Then I sent the children back to their desks to compose their songs. The teacher and TA helped the children with their songs. We sang our goodbye song before they were done because I had to leave. (I could only teach 20 minutes today. They finished the song after I left.)


DMK lesson 2-6-15 Melody and Harmony

melody and harmony

Today we started music time singing “‘A’ You’re Adorable” to a recording by Maria Muldaur (Swingin’ in the Rain, 1998). The children had already been taught this song, and I told them it’s a song I love to sing around Valentine’s Day. During the instrumental interlude, we danced in our places. (We have adapted our dancing moves to accommodate a child with a physical disability, which works out well for everyone!) Once we sang it, I played the beginning of the song again and had them listen to the different parts of the song. Before the singing ever begins, what did they hear? Which instruments besides the voice could they hear? (clarinet? oboe? piano? guitar? drums?)

I wrote the words “melody” and “harmony” on the board. (Can you believe there are actually two girls in my class this year, each with one of the names, respectively?! How serendipitous!)

I explained that the notes we sang in the song is the melody and the other music that the instruments were playing was the harmony. I had them echo me after I explained the definitions again: “Melody is the notes we sing” (repeated). “Harmony is the other notes we hear that sound good with the melody” (repeated).

I also wrote the word “accompaniment” on the board under “harmony” and said that we sometimes call the harmony that other instruments play “accompaniment.”

Hot Cross Buns

I pulled out a piece of sheet music (Song Garden©-style) for “Hot Cross Buns” and showed it to the students.  I told the children that a “bun” is another name for a roll, and the cross means the mark on the top of the roll (I drew a little circle with a cross on the top, like a roll.) (See recipe and photo here.) I said that a long time ago, in England, for example, there were street sellers trying to sell what the had on their cart (or in a basket). I said that they might be calling out, “Hot Cross Buns” to people who were on the street on a cold day. “Can you imagine eating a delicious, hot, fresh roll with melting butter on it? Let’s pretend!” (And we pretended to take a bite and savor it for a second.)

I then played for them the beginning part of “Who will buy?” from Oliver!, stopping after each singer sang out what they were selling (“Who will buy my sweet, red roses, two blooms for a penny?”) (lyrics here) and asked what the person was selling (roses, milk, strawberries, etc.), I asked them which one did they think was the melody and which voices were the harmony. They decided the roses were melody, so I drew a rose next to the word, and that strawberries was harmony, so I drew a rose next to that. (I didn’t play the whole song for them because of time. I wish I had shown a video clip instead of using an audio clip, though. I would see if I could find one without dubbing, as this one has. This just shows which one. It’s also too long to show the whole beginning.)

After explaining about street sellers, I asked the classroom teacher “to be our metronome,” and I sang “Hot Cross Buns” for them once. I held up my right hand (left hand was holding the song) and held up a finger for each count. If a song was 2 counts, I held up my pointer finger and did a quick review of note values/rhythm. I pointed to the smallest notes and said, “Remember how the smaller notes are the shortest ones? They only get 1 beat.” Then I pointed to the medium-sized dots. “Are these longer or shorter?” (Longer). “That’s right!” I said. “How many beats do these notes get?” (Two!) Then pointed to the largest dots. How many beats do these notes get?” (Four!).

Then I played it once for them on the bells. “That was the melody.” I told them, and then asked, “Which note do you think might sound good as harmony to go with this melody?” A child who raised his hand suggested “La.” So I asked the classroom teacher to play the melody on her set of bells, and I played “la” along with her, on each note. Then I asked for the teacher to suggest a note. She chose “sol.” So we played it again.

Then I sent the children to get their bells (the “Queen of the Jungle” for the day dismissed the children row by row), and after they got back, I played my “Put your mallet on your ear” game until nearly everyone was ready to play.

When we were ready, we played “Hot Cross Buns” several times at a very slow tempo. “Hover above mi,” I told them each time before we began.

Then I divided the class in half (pointed out which half would play with their teacher) and told the other half of the class they would play sol as melody with me. After one time through, we swapped, and my group played melody.

Then it was time to our sing good-bye song! I told the children after the song to think of words and notes that they would like to use in a Valentine song that we will write for their parents next week. The Queen of the Jungle invited rows to go put their bells away.

What We Teach

These are the questions we try to answer when teaching music principles in Delicious Music®:

  • What is music?
    • The story of music
    • Vibrations and waves
    • Instruments
  • What makes music good for you?
    • Physical, mental, emotional affects of music
  • How can I make music?
    • Notes and pitch
    • Scales
    • Intervals
    • Composition and composers
    • Solo and ensemble
  • How can I make music beautiful?
    • Variety, opposition, technique
      • Dynamics
      • Tempo
      • Beat and rhythm
      • Melody and harmony
  • How can I learn an instrument?
    • Practicing habits
    • Music lessons
  • How can I share my music?
    • Performance preparation
    • Audience manners