I was going through YouTube one day and found Stomp performances and an old video they did years ago called “Stomp Out Loud”. I used it when I was teaching in Cambridge, MA awhile back and it was a huge success! Kids created their own 8 measure rhythmic compositions in 4 parts ~ every group had 4 kids and they all wrote their own part. They then put it together with the others. We had a lot of fun!

This year I want to do the same kind of composition with my 4th and 5th graders. It is a project that we can do over the whole semester that doesn’t involve singing and can be easily taped and uploaded to YouTube for a winter concert. There will be a bit to this, so I will share it with you in parts.

Here is the first part:

I showed my class about 20 minutes of “Stomp Out Loud”. They watched it through once, then the second time, I had some questions:

  • What instruments did the performers use? (any and everything ~ nonconventional) What could you use at your desk to create sounds?
  • When the broom sequence gets really going at minute 6:10ish ~ are all of the brooms playing at the same time ~ no.
  • Then at minute 8:38 ~ what happens? (the steady beat is passed around)
  • Do they ever play together? (right after they pass the beat around)
  • How do we show this on paper? How does the composer let the players know to play that?

…which bring me to the next concept ~ how do we show more than one performer playing at the same time?

  • MOST IMPORTANT: Everyone MUST be following the same steady beat!! We did our steady beat exploration to get going! You can find it HERE! The kids enjoyed playing together and adding in a “yellow” or “blue” whenever they felt like it! I also was able to assess where everyone is ~ a huge help as we move forward!
  • I then reminded the kids of the activity from last year when we passed around a stick to a steady beat. We sat in a circle and each kid got had a turn to tap the stick on the floor then pass it, tap, pass, tap, pass and so on…
  • Because of Covid 19, we are simply going to pass around the steady beat by patching our legs one at a time ~ I patch, then the person next to me (6 ft away) patches, then the person “next” to him patches and so on. There should only be one sound at a time, but keeping a steady beat.
  • Once we got going, kids were passing the beat nicely!
  • I then wrote 8 parts on the board (I will only go through the first 4 parts). I asked who played the very first note? (I did) So I wrote a quarter on the first beat in part one. I then asked each kid what they played ~ nothing. They had a rest (depicted here by the letter Z). Who played the second note? Part 2 ~ so part 2 gets a quarter on beat 2 and everyone else rests on beat 2,and so on…. Until it looks like this:
    1. | I Z Z Z | Z Z Z Z |
    2. | Z I Z Z | Z Z Z Z |
    3. | Z Z I Z | Z Z Z Z |
    4. | Z Z Z I | Z Z Z Z |
  • I then asked “what if I want part 3 to play on beat one with me? What needs to change? The kids answered, “Change the first rest on part 3 to a quarter!” Wahoo!!
  • I was able to write this in conventional notation, but if you have kids who cannot read, Note Knacks can help! Do the same thing, but use the blocks instead!

I explained that this was a mini score and showed them an example of a symphony score. We talked about it a bit to give them a sense of how it worked. I told them that they will be writing scores for their “Stomp” compositions, but with fewer parts (of course 😊).

Next week we will begin exploring sound sources and different ways of how we can put them together ~ stay tuned!