Yesterday the boy choir and I played around with the measures they composed a couple of weeks ago. I taped each work to the board in no particular order for us to sing. My goal was for students to think about choice. Both groups were able to switch measures around, but only the first graders had time to add dynamics and pitch. Not only was it fun, but the students had keen insights as to why certain measures should go in certain places!
In first grade, my students are singing long and short sounds on the syllable “LA” (Phase 1 of the Note Knacks Curriculum). Students are learning to start, sustain and end a sound together. They are also practicing good singing technique as well as being in tune with the rest of the group. This can be challenging! So we sang our compositions and went from there.
We started by identifying Sol as the higher tone and Mi as the lower tone. They used Curwen hand signs to solidify the concept. The students assigned a tone to each measure. We practiced singing it several times and then added dynamics for fun. What happens when we make this line loud? What if we change our minds and sing it softly? Which do you like better? We played around with that for a bit.
I then asked them, how many groups of notes were in the whole piece (pointing to the sentence strips)? They answered 4 correctly, so I asked them how many notes? I expected them to say 2: Sol and Mi, but they answered 21. They correctly counted each block as its own note. Because we are only singing long and short sounds and 2 eighths/ 4 sixteenths do not need to stay together, the students understood that each block is indeed its own separate note. When we get into barred notes later on, they will still understand that 2 barred notes are simply the short hand for writing 2 separate notes. Each tone still needs to be accounted for. I was so excited to see them understanding this concept!