Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome, Spring!

Today is the first official day of Spring! Is it a little too cliche to teach Antonio Vivaldi's "Spring" during this time? Who cares because I love that piece!

I made a visual listening map during my student-teaching years and even though I cringe at my horrible drawing skills, the kids think I'm the next Monet. The piece itself is great for K-5 and the kids are always captivated by it as if they've never heard it before. (No, seriously, they sometimes act like they've forgotten that we listen to it EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Ha!)

For Kinder, it's great for keeping the beat and recognizing same and different. Even my squirmiest (is that a word?) class calms down and sits for Vivaldi. Not still, necessarily....many of them play air violin or conduct. Some of them bounce up and down. But they listen.

For 1st grade and 2nd grade, we take same and different a little further and talk more about form. We use shapes in 1st grade and use capital letters in 2nd grade. I mention Rondo form (though we don't specifically talk about Rondo much else during the year).

For the upper grade levels, there is a lot to teach from it - rhythm, Rondo form (with variant) again, major/minor - but one of my favorite lessons from the past has been a comparison between music of the past and the present. I was searching iTunes for a copy to play several years ago (after misplacing my own CD) and I came across a really cool cardio workout remix version. The best I can do is link to the iTunes preview list. You'll have to click on the button to listen to a bit of it. Trust me, it's way out there, but the kids really relate to it!

Anyway, we talk about how long ago Vivaldi lived and the type of musical instruments he had access to. Which instruments did he use? How did he write down his compositions? Did he even have lights (electricity) to see at night if he wanted to write in the evening? Could he advertise his works easily? How did people hear his music? Fast forward to present day. How does this compare to musicians now? What kinds of instruments do we have now? How do we write music? How do we listen to music?

It's fascinating how much kids (and sometimes us teachers!) take music for granted. With music so easily accessed at the touch of a button, with us at all times in our pockets, purses and backpacks....we no longer have to make it ourselves! We don't have to write it down with a quill and ink or by candlelight; we don't have to walk miles to a concert hall just to hear the latest music as they did in Vivaldi's time.

Wow, that veered off into a random place.
Happy Spring!

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