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.
– 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.
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.
– Arianna (: