School – Week 14

As it was still around Thanksgiving, we also had Monday off this week, so it was another short week. Only one new intervention this week, too!

Busted: This one is all over Pinterest for music education. I made popsicle sticks with different rhythm patterns on them and put them in a drum. I also wrote the word BUSTED! on 5 sticks. Then I went around the room to each student. If they pulled a stick with a rhythm and clapped it correctly, they got to keep the stick. If they pulled a stick with BUSTED! they had to surrender all their sticks and start from scratch. It’s a pretty simple game that the kids seemed to enjoy. They all got excited when another BUSTED! stick was pulled. You can kind of play it by ear as to whether you want to leave the BUSTED! sticks out after they’re pulled or put them back in. Just depends on how long you want the game to be. This one clearly is more lesson-based, but it does address coping with a loss in a small way. You could also adapt it to write whatever you want on the sticks

Another short post for ya!

– Arianna (:


School – Week 9

Rhythm Ping Pong: The students LOVED this, no matter how old they were (I admit I haven’t tried it with my youngest class yet because I’m a little nervous how they’ll handle it…). I adapted the idea from this post on Pinterest. So I brought in a large tub that I had at home and conveniently had a box of ping pong balls in my room at school. I went ahead and drew different rhythms on the ping pong balls – whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, quarter rests, and half rests. I designated one student as the “thrower” and one as the “ball getter” (because ping pong balls are pesky and just roll all over the place). The thrower had a bag of maybe 15 or so ping pong balls and his/her goal was to toss or bounce them so that they landed in the bucket. The bucket I got was large enough so that a majority of the students were very successful at scoring ping pong balls. Once they were done throwing, the students took the ping pong balls they scored and wrote them down in any order on a sheet of paper. After everyone got an opportunity to throw, then they got to perform their rhythms on a drum. The only tricky part is that I included half notes and whole notes, which are a little tough to comprehend on an instrument that doesn’t necessarily hold out a sound. I just told them to let the drum ring out when they had rhythms with multiple beats. One adaptation I did for my younger classes was instead of focusing on the act of playing the rhythms, I focused on the note values. I had the kids spread out in a circle around the container and one by one they threw their ping pong balls in. Then I collected all the ones they scored and as a group we counted the total “points” based on the rhythmic values. Then we did it again (and even a speed round at the end because they loved the game so much) to see if we could beat our score. While this is certainly very educationally focused, it does address impulse control, following directions, and also frustration tolerance if they happen to miss a few in a row (however, as I said, I tried to set this up so that students would be successful).

Staff Word Game: I adapted this one a little bit depending on the age of the students. For my younger class, I set up 5 taped lines on the floor and labeled each line/space with the letters. I only happened to have one student in class that day, so her and I worked together to spell different words using A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. I told her the “high score” was 10 so she had something to work towards. Once we spelled a word, she had to walk over to the tape staff and mark where each of the notes would be with her hands and feet. With my older students, I put sheets of paper with a large staff on them inside sheet protectors. I also gave them little squares of paper that had the letters of the musical alphabet on them. These were supposed to be for the students to manipulate and move around to help them spell different words. They sort of just ended up being a source of confusion rather than helpful, and I just lost a lot of paper clips in the process, haha. I explained how the lines/spaces on the staff are labeled, and then let the students work on figuring out how to put the words on the staff. Each time a student got a word, he/she raised his hand for me to come over and check it. I kept a running list of the words from each class, and the highest score was 42!
Credit: I got the idea for the tape staff and marking the notes with hands/feet from my supervisor, Katie.

Magazine Articles: So, teenagers are tough to plan for. I tried thinking outside of the box to come up with something music-related but still cool that they would like. This idea came to mind and then I did a little searching on the internet to find stuff to help me. I thought it would be cool for them to use their favorite songs and write a music critic article about them. I found a list of questions to guide them in their writing somewhere online but I can’t find it right now /: It was from a project someone had about writing about bluegrass music. Anyway, I wrote the questions on the board and had the students take notes to answer the questions:

  • Name of the artist/band
  • Name of the song
  • Genre
  • Any background about the band
  • What do the lyrics mean?
  • Does the song fit with the artist’s typical sound?
  • Unique elements (instruments/sounds/etc)
  • Overall impressions – rate on a scale of 1-10 or letter grade

Those are just a few of the questions. I also asked them to reflect on the tempo, dynamics, voice, etc. Once they wrote out their notes, they got to type up their article in paragraph form on the computer. I put all the articles on my new handy dandy flash drive, and I am going to compile them into a magazine format (once I find some time…). I was nervous about this activity because I thought it might feel too much like “work” for them. Most of the students ended up completing it eventually. They didn’t go quite as in-depth as I hoped, but they did put some nice thought into it.

Song Challenge: If you Google “30 Day Song Challenge” you’ll find a list of questions that ask you to fill out different songs for different scenarios. That’s a bad explanation, but if you Google it, you’ll see what I mean. Basically I compiled a bunch of these questions and put them on a worksheet for the students to fill in their own answers. I used this mainly for my high school class because this classroom is acute, so the students are only there for a few weeks usually. This activity was a way for me to gain some rapport; we could just sit, be chill, and talk about what music they liked.

– Arianna (:

School – Week 6

I Gotta Feeling: Here’s an intervention for some emotion work! I started out with the chorus from the song “I Gotta Feeling” and went around to each student asking how they were feeling that day. For example, “Henry has a feeling / that today is an okay day / that today is an okay day / he’s feeling” Then I had printed out some pictures of emojis that would address a variety of emotions. I had multiple copies of each one so that students could pick the same one as someone else if that’s what matched how they were feeling that day. Then, as you might guess, we played the different emotions on the drum. We talked about how each one would sound, and how that corresponded with our physiological response to emotions (of course, I did not use terminology even remotely close to that, haha). Each person had a chance to solo on the drum to represent their emoji. Then I busted out a blues song that filled in each feeling that the students selected and asked them what they do when they feel that way and put it in the song!

Chord Progressions: So. My hope with this one was that we could do mash-ups as a class one day, but I haven’t quite figured out how to do that. Anyway, I started by teaching the students how to build chords. Instead of going into specifics about key signatures and roman numerals, I just taught them how to build them with half steps. I printed out worksheets with pianos on them (just like how I used to draw them on my theory tests), so they could count half steps to make major and minor chords. After we practiced this a little bit, I had them get into groups to make their own chord progressions using C, d minor, e minor, F, G, or a minor. Then they had to write down the note names that would belong in the chords that they chose. It was definitely a challenge to explain to them the concept of chords, and how a C major chord involves multiple notes. I actually talked with Stephenie about how it would’ve been good to have something for them to manipulate, like legos or play-doh to physically stack the notes on top of one another, but I never got around to doing that with them. Now, this intervention lasted a few days. After they made their chord progressions, I wheeled the keyboard into class so they could play them for one another! Since they were in groups, they split up playing the chords so one person didn’t have to play three notes at once. This took some time for them to practice. I also let them choose beats from the keyboard and write short lyrics to rap over what they were playing if they wanted to. Once they had some time to practice, they performed for the class! Always a nice opportunity to talk about respecting others and being a good audience member when their peers are performing in front of everyone.
Credit: This source was very helpful in designing a simplified way to teach chords.

Guess The Song: Some classes had earned days where they got to pick what we did in music the next day. It’s nice to come in with something light and fun every once in a while. This Guess The Song game formatted by decades. I wrote (and colored in) 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and Current on pieces of white paper. I then laid these on the floor and when it was someone’s turn, he or she tossed a crumpled up piece of paper (Ideally it would’ve been a bean bag, but ya gotta improvise sometimes) and whichever decade it landed closest to was the decade that the song selection would be from. I tried to pick very popular ones from each decade. If you would like the list of songs that I used for each decade, leave a comment and let me know! I actually also did a Guess The Song game with number categories. My supervisor found these great large foam dice at Five Below, and the students would roll to determine the level of song I would play. Rolling a 1 would be a Level 1 song, which is one I considered “easy,” and the difficulty increased all the way up to 6. The songs I chose for this game were generally pop songs from the last few years or so.

– Arianna (:

School – Week 5

Music Symbols: This intervention was two-fold, and it has a very education-heavy focus. Just wanted to put that out there right away, haha. So I started by introducing the kids to different symbols in music: whole, half, quarter, and eight notes/rests, treble clef, bass clef, sharp, flat, natural, fermata, crescendo, decrescendo, repeat sign. I brought in sheet protectors with sheets of paper in them to serve as “white boards” for the students to practice drawing the symbols individually. I printed out large copies of the symbols to hold up as a reference for the students. Then after practicing to draw them, we played a game. I bought mini play-doh cartons and we raced to see who could build the symbols with the play-doh the fastest. This ended up being a lot more subjective than I anticipated. Since we were racing, the kids took some shortcuts, so I started prompting them that if it wasn’t done neatly I wasn’t going to count it. I used a very specific procedure for the game to make it as fair as possible that went like this:
1) Everyone crumpled up their play-doh and placed it in the middle of their desk
2) I showed the picture of the symbol we were making for that round.
3) Everyone put their hands up in the air with elbows locked
4) When I said go, the students started crafting the symbol with the play-doh
5) When someone was finished, he/she yelled “done!” which prompted everyone else to stop and put their hands up
6) I went over to check their work — if they were correct, they got a point. If they were wrong, I told everyone to keep working.
Even though, as I said, this is very education-heavy, for the kids who weren’t as fast, some had a hard time coping with not being fully successful each round. I tried to still go around and check people’s work even if they didn’t “win.” I also had some side discussions about how it feels to not win each time and how we can deal with those types of situations.
One adaptation:
– For my younger classes, we didn’t do the game. Rather, I created a checklist with all the symbols (Didn’t do as many with them), so whenever they successfully made a symbol, they got to check it off on their list. A nice, simple incentive for them! I also added the school’s expectations on the checklist, so if they were behaving appropriately, they got reinforced for that also.
Credit: Here!

Musical Masterpiece: Got this idea straight from this source. It’s supposed to facilitate a discussion about acceptance, but it definitely resulted in more conflict than I anticipated. Here’s how I facilitated it: I gave everyone a piece of paper and explained that they were going to start drawing, and then when I paused the music, they would switch pictures with someone else and add something to theirs. What I quickly found out was the students did not want people drawing unwanted things on “THEIR” pictures. In my youngest class, they ended up doing fairly well and instead of just coping with whatever someone else added to the picture, they independently started asking each other what they wanted and they actually complied (for the most part). So I reinforced that and talked about being a good friend with them. Then when I did it with another class, they were not having it. Even when I tried to explain that no one really “owns” the pictures, that everyone is contributing, they still did not want people drawing on theirs. And when someone drew something they didn’t want, they were very upset. I did my best to facilitate this, and some of the students were supporting each other, so we talked about that, but at that point it was hard to bring it back. As soon as that class was over, I started thinking about changes I could’ve made, and here’s what I came up with: Perhaps if I came in with pictures that had different drawings and had them add to them, then they would have less ownership of the pictures. I could even say something like “I need you to help me finish these,” or something. Then from there it might set up the situation better for us to talk about how they each added something different, and maybe it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but that’s okay. Definitely a learning experience from that one.

Boom Chicka Boom: This is another heavily education-focused one. It’s basically using the chant “Boom Chicka Boom” to teach loud, medium, and soft dynamics. I didn’t go into the correct terms for these with my students on this day (forte, mezzo forte, piano). First I taught them the chant, and actually, I had some resistance initially. They basically thought it was lame, haha. But I turned it into a challenge (since some of the lines are a little tricky) to see who could say it, and luckily that brought them back into the activity. So what I did was made each line a different dynamic, and had them hold up index cards with the words “LOUD!” “Medium” and “soft” written on them to match how I played. Then I gave each student a chance to lead and prompted the students to hold up cards to match the leader.
Credit: Hereeeeee.

– Arianna (: