When I taught in a combined first and second grade regular classroom, the head teacher always wrote a “morning message” that was to be read as soon as the students came in the classroom in the morning. This message often included the activities of the day or something special that was going on soon. It was a great way for us to communicate with the class and it sharpened their reading skills in the process.
Today I wrote a version of a morning message for our Youth Choir (Grades 4-8). Since the idea is to get kids reading and composing the language of music fluently, I copied a measure from one of the pieces they are working on and asked them to identify the song. I chose a very obvious measure to start. It is the first measure of the song where the melody is unique. Students that read music well knew the answer immediately, but it took the rest a bit of time.
I started off by asking simple questions, especially to the younger students. Is the first note a line note or a space note? Which space? Which line? Do the notes go higher or lower? Can someone sing it? With some trial and error, the rest of the students figured out the melody and identified the song. When we started rehearsal and they had the octavo in front of them, I then asked which measure number it was. They had no problem!
I am excited to start doing this for every class. It is a simple way of getting kids to sight sing and to learn how to look for clues to help them. It creates the perfect teachable moment to introduce reading strategies! For the younger students the notes can be as simple as sol, mi and la melodies and increase in difficulty as they get older. It is a game where kids need to be detectives….and they love figuring out mysteries!