Friday, December 27, 2013

First Lesson on Dynamics and Following the Conductor - Donor's Choose Instruments

When our instruments from our Donor's Choose project came in, the students were very excited! All of the children love to play the instruments and look forward to any time I announce that we will be playing them.

This lesson is very easy to do and you don't need a special set of instruments. Any set on nonpitched percussion will do, one instrument for every student.

As I pass out instruments I have the students echo me. I say a four beat rhythm or a sing a short melodic phrase. I saw a teacher do this on a video and thought it as brilliant. When I hand out an instrument they know to hold it without making noise.

First we practice not playing the instruments. All students put their instruments in their lap and copy my hand gestures. I teach two gestures before we begin and have them copy with their hands. First is hands open with palms up, an inviting gesture. The second is hands closed into fists with palms down, a closing gesture. I assess visually to make sure that every student has copied my hands.

Then they pick up their instruments and I conduct using the two basic gestures. They love it! And it is a perfect introduction to watching the conductor. I play around with long and short durations of playing and of silence.

With all the students watching I communicate to play softly through body language and keeping my hands low near my belly button. Then of course there is the contrasting loud, also communicated through body language with my hands up near my head. I still occasionally include silence so that they all stay watching.

These gestures are very basic and the students catch on quickly. After I have taught this I have a student come up and conduct the group. They all want to be the conductor!

This whole lesson took about five minutes and I will use it again to practice loud, soft, watching the conductor, and student leadership.

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