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Star Unit 3

This is the 3rd part of the Star Unit story, if you would like to catch up check out parts 1 and 2 here: Star Unit Part 1Star Unit Part 2

Today focuses on melody identification, writing and playing. Throughout this whole unit I decided to keep my students in F Pentatonic to keep it easy and make it all cohesive. You can change this melody to be in whatever key you desire, but as you see it, it will be in F.

We begin by doing some body percussion solfege. I have loved adding solfege to body signs and body percussion the past few years. I was not happy with how I was teaching hand signs and my students were struggling to grasp the melodic contour of the notes. By transferring them to places on our body and body percussion my students are able to grasp which notes are higher and lower much quicker. For this song we used Stomps = Do, Claps = Mi, Snaps = So, and Pats = Re. Here is a video of my students performing the song:

After singing and performing using body percussion, I had my students notate the song. We did this both as a whole group using a powerpoint and individually on a worksheet. We did the first 2 phrases together and then the students had to finish the song on their own. Once finished they took their paper to the barred instruments and tried to figure out how to play the melody. I helped them by reminding them what pentatonic we were in and which note was Do. From there it was some trial and error on their part. I watched to make sure they were playing Do Mi So and not Do Re Mi.

Once I had given the students some time to try and find it out for themselves, we worked through it as a whole class. We went phrase by phrase and I asked for volunteers to play that phrase for the class. Then all the students worked to play it. By the end the entire class was playing the melody.

Some classes were ready for the next step during that same period, but others needed some time to process what they had just done. After students were successful with playing the melody, we added the bass line. The way I described it to the students was that we were going to add the same bass line we had used in the John Kanaka song; we just needed to figure out when to move down to the Low So notes. Students sang through the song and helped to discover when to move. We added this bass line to our melody.

Finally, I opted to make a giant ABA form out of this piece and the John Kanaka song. It was a struggle for some of my classes, but other classes loved it and really went to town! Here is one class that got into the “Sailor” spirit while performing:

More songs and lessons to come! I will have a resource available for purchase at the end of this series that will contain all of these lessons and songs!

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