Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Pop, Breath is Life is Singing

In music class on Monday the first thing we did was talk about where we’ve been, what we’re doing now and what will happen next. We’ve played with working as a group and discovered vocabulary terms to use as tools as we make music. We are still in the middle of playing with rhythm and tone color. In two more weeks, we will have a fun lesson which will be a culmination of all their hard work. It will be very exciting so stay tuned!

But, we have a few more things to get done with rhythm and tone color. We used the words Pitter, Patter and Chatter to create a rain storm. Using just their voices, those words or parts of those words, the children came up with ideas using our vocabulary/tools to create the sounds of a rain shower. There were dynamic ideas (forte, piano, crescendo and decrescendo), tempo ideas (the speed of the sounds) as well as color ideas. It was pouring by the time we were finished!

Shimmy shimmy shimmy pop was the next group of words we used to show the contrast of different rhythms (shimmy = two sounds per beat, pop = one sound per beat), and how adding colors to the words could accentuate the differences in rhythm. It was a popping, chattering fun day in music class!

 In children’s choir on Friday we reviewed the rocking good fun of our newly learned folk song, Old Joe Clark. Then the class divided into two groups – one group had claves (rhythm sticks) and the other had drums. All the children sang the song while one group played their instruments during the chorus and the other group during the verses. It was our first time accompanying playing instruments at different times! It was a simple way to introduce this musical concept, especially during gales of laughter at the hilarious (and disgusting!) text from this early 19th century folk song.

Not many years after Old Joe Clark began to be sung in the south, a rather more elegant song was written in 1934, the standard ballad, Blue Moon, by Rodgers and Hart. While the vocabulary word ‘sustained’ (holding a note) has been learned and mastered in music class, the children are working on sustaining with their voices in children’s choir. Blue Moon is almost all sustained notes which can be a vocal challenge.  Sustaining a note vocally requires breath control and breath support, two different skills used together. Breath technique will remain an often visited subject in children’s choir. As one of my teachers told me, breath is life is singing.

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