4-15-16 Building a Musical Legacy

Today I taught the second verse of the song we are learning as a school, “We’re Building a Musical Legacy,” to one of the kindergarten classes. The children remembered the first verse after I had taught it to them 2 weeks ago–the day before spring break. They hadn’t sung it in 2 weeks. That is how fresh and bright and capable young children are to learn! We spent maybe 15 minutes on the first verse then and then 15 minutes today on reviewing the first verse and learning the second verse. I marvel at the minds of young children!

The music was written by a musician friend of mine for our school back in 2012.  This was one in a number of small songs for which I have written lyrics for the elementary school.  Others–friends and family!–have helped with the music side of the songs. I am grateful for the teamwork that has been involved with each song production. I have learned, via these experiences, that creating music and giving it as a gift that brings a sweet feeling. I am not a professional musician, so I needed the talents that others had to complete the project.

That is what I hope Delicious Music will someday become: a place where people can share what they have created to help elementary school children have free access to music for their classrooms, choirs, and orchestras. Children need good music with solid, positive ideas to help them in their journey. Please share your talents with us! Feel free to email me music that you would like to share! (All music must be original and copyright free or with permission to use.)

Composers and composing: easier than you think!

Helping children learn to write a song is simple. We don’t expect the vast majority of childre to write like Shakespeare or Milton when they start writing their first sentences. Neither would we expect one to quit trying to compose music just becuase their song doesn’t sound like one of Mozart’s concertos. We are simply trying to teach the process.

Today I had an idea for a song for the letter Z. I sat down and jotted down some words to what I named “Zazzaloopseedoo.”

Then my daughter Rebecca walked in the door. I invited her to write a tune to the lyrics. I handed her a set of resonator bells, and she got a pencil and paper. A few minutes later, she had a little tune written down in Solfa notation (just the first letter of each note).

Rebecca composing

Rebecca composingNow, my daughter and I aren’t Rogers and Hammerstein, but we had fun in the creative process. And this process is the building block from which nearly all children can learn to write a song. How we continue to develop that skill can help those who discover that they feel very excited about the process to want to continue. Not everyone has to become a music composer! But teaching and learning the simple process of writing a tune can allow every child to experience the joy of creating.

The Happy Birthday Song

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear (the name of the child),
Happy Birthday to you!

d d r d f m
d d r d s f
d d d’ l f m r
t t l f s f

Patty Hill and her sister, Mildred, wrote this song for Patty’s kindergarten students in 1893. It is now sung millions of times every year around the world!

This photo from the L.A. Times online. Click on the image to go to the source.
Patty Smith Hill and her sister, Mildred Hill. For more information, go to the photo source by clicking on the photo.

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.)



I just have to share how cool this is! As you may know, I didn’t graduate in music, so I’m learning so many things as I try to teach music, including how to notate music online. I did it for the first time today for our last little song. You can go to noteflight.com and write your own songs! There are video tutorials to show you how. It is so easy! And fun! I hope each of my students will give it a try this summer!