Sunday, February 25, 2018

Get Your Students to Compose Ostinato Ensembles

As I've been back into the lesson planning game, I was thinking about ways to actively engage students, and give them choice and ownership of the music they create.  I realized that composition and performance has always been a great learning and assessment opportunity in my classroom.

In this set, students have the ability to compose, either alone or in groups, and then in small groups (or large ones for that matter), to perform the layers of the simple ostinato they write. 

This set has several combinations of worksheets to meet the needs of your students. Several instrumental options are included for each set of rhythms directed in both 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures. Worksheets are created to include quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests; the next level of advancement adds sixteenth notes; and the final level of advancement adds eighth-sixteenth combinations. 

Over 40 choices of instrumentation and rhythm requirements are provided. These worksheets require use of 1 beat rhythms only. Instruments listed on the worksheets include world drums, egg shakers, sticks, cymbals, wood blocks, hand drums, sand blocks, triangles, tambourines, and maracas. Blank worksheets are also provided for you or your students to choose instruments not listed on any set. 
I'm hoping to create a more complex set that will allow for multiple beat rhythms.  I hope this experience gets your students MAKING music, not simply sitting and listening.  Our students need the chance to CREATE on a daily basis!

Happy composition work!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Three Billy Goats Gruff in the Music Classroom

I recently finished a new product, after not creating many music products for awhile.  Between being a principal and a mom, life has been busy, but I've really enjoyed thinking creatively about ways to engage students in the music making process so on my last snow day, I explored this lesson I have had in my mind for awhile.

This new set is great for introducing children's literature and characterization in the music classroom.  Students will learn ostinato patterns for each character in the story, from the little goat, to the big goat.  The story is written and can be projected, so that when it is read, students see a graphic representation of the "character" the ostinato represents, signaling the performance of the rhythm pattern.

Ostinato parts can be assigned to individual students, groups of students, or a whole class.  The ostinato patterns can be performed with body percussion or speech, or instruments may be added to represent each character.

Though I have created several other rhythm stories in my TPT store, this story includes half notes, quarter notes, quarter rests, sixteenth notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth/eighth combinations, providing some more advanced rhythm opportunities for students who are prepared to do so.

To conclude the story performance, the rhythm ostinato patterns can be layered and performed together as an ostinato piece.

Enjoy this new activity for cross curricular connections in your music room.  Find it here.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Innovation or Bust #IMMOOC

I have been participating in #IMMOOC, as I am rereading a fabulous book by George Curous called "The Innovator's Mindset."  It has caused me to do a great deal of reflecting.

Looking back on my 13 years in education, both as a teacher and as a principal, I would call myself a creative educator.  I tried new things that were different from what everyone else was doing.  I was willing to do almost anything to engage students in learning.  I made it a priority to have my students create, not just consume.  I developed experiences to create memorable learning opportunities for students.  I engaged families in the process.  Innovative was not the word I would have used to describe myself.  

Acccording to Merriam-Webster, innovation is:

Definition of innovation

:the introduction of something new

2:a new idea, method, or device :novelty

Looking back in hindsight, I believe I was, and am an innovator in the field of education.  I am continuing to learn, continuing to change, continuing to revise ideas to meet the needs of students and families and to help our students rise to the occasion in ways the future world is going to need them to.  Do I have it all figured out, no.  Am I willing to ask questions, dig deeper, experiment, explore, and learn?  You better believe it!

I know that I have been viewed by some as a person who needs to slow down and not interrupt the status quo.  Others may have believed that I raised the bar to a place that wasn't necessary.  However, I perserered and continue to push on because I believe there is always more I can do to make this world a better place, to make my students better prepared for the future, to engage our community in the learning process, and to be continually learning myself.  

In a time when the world is changing at the speed of light, technology is doing things we only dreamt of in movies, and kids' access to information is vastly different from what it has been, we must change.  We must innovate.  If we choose to remain stagnant, to be afraid to try something different, to be afraid to fail,  or to view the changes in the world around us, our students will suffer.  Our kids need to be ready for what is to come and it is our job to help prepare them to think in a way that will make that happen.  We need to prepare leaders and learners who will persevere through problems, who will ask hard questions or questions that haven't been asked before, who will know how to investigate their personal passions independently, who will be able to work hard and use that hard work to make something in the world better.  

I'm only just touching the surface from my learning, experimenting, and brainstorming of what innovation can look like in a classroom, school, or community.  However, my ideas, combined with your ideas, combined with the ideas of educators next door, across the country, and across the globe can change a system that has been resistant to innovation for years.  Together, we can change the experiences and the opportunities our students are give.  Together, we can include our students in creating learning that is meaningful and engaging to them.  Together.  Together we will learn.  Together we will grow.  Together we will fail and get back up.  Together is the path forward to innovation.   Are you ready to join the movement?    

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What I've Been Up To

I've been off the grid on the blog for awhile, but it is my goal to make time to continue to create, update, dialogue, and share.

I was honored this week to be featured in our local newspaper.  Here's some of the things I've been up to while my blogging lagged....

Amy Balsbaugh in Lancaster Online News

...more to come....

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Where Have You BEEN??

I recently received a comment from a follower asking where I have been and requesting more posts.

So, I thought it was time I explain my lack of activity and along with my explanation, promise to return with more resources and ideas soon.

In August, I accepted a position as a principal of a K-3 elementary school.  I quickly packed all of my music classroom up into box after box of resources, memories, and ideas all within the period of one week.  Nine years of joy is a hard thing to walk away from.

I enjoy my new job, but as you might imagine, starting out as a principal takes a great deal of time, as I try to learn the new district and staff and as I get some experience under my belt.  Thus, most evenings and weekends are spent preparing things for my staff and students.

On top of that, I got engaged in October, so the wedding planning fun is taking up the time I had spent on my TpT Store and Blog!

Have no fear, however.  I still love thinking up ideas and sharing them.  It is my goal to be able to share more resources and ideas again with you all more frequently in the new year.  From my new perspective as an administrator, I think I may be able to bring you even more creative ideas.

You may also start to see some non-music items appear as I work in a new role outside of the music realm.  These resources may work in and out of the music class, or they might be building level specific.

Stay tuned for more exciting things.  As always, if there is a resource you are looking for, feel free to let me know!

Thanks for your patience.  I'll be back, I promise!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What is Orff? The Eternal Question

When parents or community members learn that we have an "Orff" program in our music room, I always get lots of questions.  What is it?  Who is Orff?  That's the xylophones, right?  How do you spell that?

With my first grade families, to introduce myself and the program each year, I always send a letter home about my philosophy of teaching and what we will be doing in the music room during the year.
I also attach AOSA's brochure, What is Orff in Elementary Music Education, so that all parents get a better understanding of what we are going to be doing and learning.

Today, I came across this video, though, that I think quickly, beautifully, and visually explains what Orff-Schulwerk is, and the power of this type of instruction.  I will definitely be adding this to my webpage at school and sending the link home as well.  This trumps the brochure.

Check it out! Click here!

Hope these ideas help you explain or understand Orff more. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Goldilocks and the 3 Bears Visit the Music Room

Somehow, summer always breezes by and the long list of to do's and ideas never gets completely accomplished, even with the best intentions.  Goldilock's transformation to a music and literature story has been at the top of my list for awhile and it is finally done for you TODAY!

This set includes directions, 7 rhythm ostinato cards, and a pictoral story to be incorporated along with the children's folk story, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." After learning each character's ostinato part,

it will be inserted into the story every time the character is mentioned. The story is written out and graphics are inserted every time an ostinato is to be chanted (ex. every time the wee little bear is named, the baby bear rhythm ostinato will be performed in the story.) Students can read the story or the teacher can. Ostinatos can be performed as a whole class or in small groups. Instrumental suggestions are also included for each character. Speech interjections for the story are also color coded for ease of students and the teacher.

Using half notes, quarter notes, quarter rests, and eighth Notes, this activity is great for students who are familiar or may come across this book in their reading classes as well. Great cross curricular activity that is engaging for students and meets music standards while incorporating literacy as well. A final performance can be created and shared as well.
I hope your students enjoy bringing this beloved folktale to life, as much as I loved creating it!