Here is our first class of the New Year:
- If I move, students are still. When I stop, students move freely.
- Simple instructions (affectionately known as ‘opposite day’), but devilishly hard to execute for this age. The urge to mirror is very strong in us. I made my phrases in tempo and predictable. Each student eventually led for a while. I hope for a variety of movements, but skipping is definitely the most popular. After a while, I added music to match the movement: single line for the soloist, and melody and harmony for the ensemble. This removes some of the difficulty of watching the soloist as they are now using musical cues, but it also begins to feel like a soloist and orchestra playing a concerto.
- Same game, piano leads.
- This returns the game to its original intention. I now encourage them to use the tempo and dynamics they heard in their own movements, which now happens in silence. This requires them to inhibit their natural impulse to move when they hear music. Inhibition is typical Dalcroze strategy.
- (seated) open hands for major, closed arms for minor.
- This quick reaction is a review, but my real purpose was to put a pattern of seven beats with a rest at end into their ears.
- Move pattern in the room, alone if minor and together if major.
- The rest on the end is quick, and requires a short stop (not easy for everybody). Interestingly they chose to move in two large groups for the minor.
- Toss a bean bag in the rest as you move.
- I added a story to this, and passed out bean bags: Fairies and elves walk in a dark forest, tossing a short light up (orange and red bean bags) into the air in the rest of the pattern. Every so often they take a bigger rest and toss the light higher. If they hear the evil giant they run to hide, but must learn to hide in their own space, away from their friends or the giant will find them. (This last part occurred quite spontaneously in an effort to get them to quickly find their own space in the room, a challenge for this age.)
- Move to Haydn’s Surprise Symphony
- The pattern came from the famous movement of this symphony. After they were familiar with it on the piano, they moved to a recording. It was fun to watch them encounter the big surprise chord!
- Play an imaginary instrument to a movement from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Watch for your turn to be the soloist.
- They were surprisingly engaged in this. I played the role of conductor. I hope to use this next week in another activity, and wanted to prime the pump.
- Make rhythm patterns with rests.
- We used 4 note cards with quarter notes on them, one turned over for the rest. I asked one student to change the cards to make a new pattern, one to play the pattern, and the class to snap or tap in the rest. Each pattern feels a little different, and they seemed to notice this.
- Improvisation: play when your partner is silent, be silent when your partner plays.
- A mirror of the first activity, this time with percussion instruments. At first I was the partner, then we branched out. We demonstrated many ways of playing: with pattern/without pattern; long phrases/short phrases; repetitive non-repetitive.
- Hey Ho: Play in the rests of the song.
- This round is becoming familiar, and many were able to use their experience in the class to accomplish this.
Quite a full class this week – see you next time!