Posted on August 31, 2017
We're off to a fantastic start! In this first few weeks back at school, the music room was filled with singing voices, clapping and patting to rhythms, playing percussion instruments, creating choreography, and having fun!
On our very first day, every student here at Mid-Pacific gathered in Mills Gymnasium for our all school convocation, and the children opened with Welina Mānoa, an ʻoli, or chant written by Keawe Lopes about the beauty of our land where Mid-Pacific calls home.
In our classroom, we do a vocal warm up using scales at the beginning of each class,. We use solfege which is the ABC's of music (Do-RE-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do). So far, we have sung from 1-5 (Do to So) and did different variations of the warm up. We also reviewed Mid-Pacific's Alma Mater and "Love Grows," which we sing at every assembly, and "The Hawaiian Doxology," sung at chapel every Monday.
Each class came up with ideas on what a music student looks like. They broke up into groups and collaborated by sharing ideas on what a student in music should look like. Many had similar ideas like, "Do your best," "Sing out," "Be respectful of the instruments," and "have fun!"
Our Kindergarten classes had lots of fun learning about tempo through an activity called, "Step to the Beat." They were instructed to listen to a steady beat and to step along with the beat. They were also instructed to listen if the tempo changed from faster or slower. We also began learning a song, "Shake my Sillies Out," where they travel around the classroom singing and doing the movements to each verse like shake, clap, wiggle, and jump.
The multiage grades 1/2 reviewed the Kodaly method, which uses stick notation, or stems without note heads. This method encourages students to focus mainly on rhythm. We reviewed names to identify each notation: ta (quarter note), ti-ti (eighth notes), and rest (quarter rest). They practiced saying and clapping the rhythm first, then played the instruments. Then they were put into groups and were given percussion instruments. These instruments included the hand drum, triangle, castanets, maracas, tambourines, guiros, and rhythm sticks. Each group rotated, giving them a chance to experience playing different instruments.
Grades 3, 4, and 5 also reviewed music theory using the Kodaly method and reviewed names to identify each notation: ta (quarter note), ti-ti (eighth notes), tiri-tiri (sixteenth notes) and rest (quarter rest). They also participated in creative movement by making up movements to a play party song, "Shake the 'Simmons Down." ('Simmons is short for persimmons.) Play party songs are sung without instrumental music, involve "play" type movements like stepping, clapping, turning, and the lyrics often cue movement. We formed a circle and traveled to the right and left while eagerly sharing different ways to perform the different movements for certain lyrics.
They also created an 8-beat rhythmic pattern using fruit names that represent notes and their values. For example, pumpkin and apple are ti ti (eighth notes), watermelon is tiri tiri (sixteenth notes), and squash is ta (quarter note). After learning the pattern, we transferred each item to different body percussions (clap for pumpkin, snap for apple, pat for watermelon, and stomp for squash). They then came up with different movements and shared their ideas with their class.
Combining music with curriculum, Grade 5 began learning a song for their upcoming Hawaiʻi Island learning trip. This song, "No Ka ʻApapane," is an original composition written by our very own Lanakila Casupang, kumu hula of Mid-Pacific's Pūpūkahi hula hālau. The ʻApapane is a species of honeycreepers, important pollinators for the ʻohia lehua. These birds are active singers all day, with a variety of calls and sounds, much like the diverse skills and talents of the fifth graders. Our 5th grade building is also named after the ʻApapane, and the 5th graders will share this gift of mele (song) and hula while on Hawaiʻi island.
All of these activities and exercises promote learning through singing, movement, creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking, enriching life-long learners.