Beginning Band Enrichment Activities

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  • #10083
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Last year, I taught beginning band for the first time. One thing that I wanted to try this year is adding in some enrichment activities. I found that since the beginning of the year is filled with lots of “play four quarter notes, then four quarter rests” activities, there is plenty of room to add in some extra activities that don’t involve playing. Particularly, I think my students can benefit from some counting activities. In their general music classes, they learn counting using the Kodaly method. I don’t have anything against that, but when they get in to instrumental music I feel like they should learn to count their beats, which I feel the traditional “1-e-and-ah, 2-e-and-ah” method is better for. So, does anyone have any ideas for some fun activities that I can add to their playing?

    #28785
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Yes, use David Newell’s method for teaching rhythm and there are a whole bunch of possibilities for games, activities and good beginning band enjoyment. I use it in my band and they are always asking to do more.

    #30612
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Throughout my methods courses, observation hours, and working closely with educators that have been in the field for a very long time, I found sometimes the best way to teach is without a book. Kids are very in-touch with their ears, not to mention a large part of teaching music is building your student’s aural skills. Although I am only completing my third year of my undergraduate degree in music education at Kent State University, I have worked closely with beginning band programs, and I have taught several beginners privately over the past 6 years. If you are looking for extra activities to compliment the curriculum and books you are currently using, I would recommend playing echo games with the students. Play a rhythm or tonal pattern and have them echo you either with their voice, instrument, or both. You could also let your students improvise for a few measures while other students either sing or play tonic. While it may be confusing for students at first, with the proper guidelines and teaching pace, students will quickly pick up on this. It can be a challenging task, but it is very rewarding in the end. It’s fun, too!

    #34124
    nafmeadmin
    Keymaster

    Believe it or not, some really fun enrichment activities that my students love are using the James O. Froseth Rhythm Cards and soundtracks. I affectionately refer to this activity as “funky rhythms” because you just can’t help but move along with the retro soundtracks. One of the most challenging tasks I have with my middle school students is keeping a steady beat. One of our feeder schools has a wonderful general music teacher who does amazing things and the other has had on and off long term subs with no music background. All in all, I get a big mix of students who can and definitely cannot feel a steady beat. And of course, what good are rhythm activities if students cannot yet distinguish between a steady beat and rhythm? Activities I use for steady beat are listening to music and moving to the beat as well as dancing. Yes, I make my band students dance. And they have a great time doing it. I use kids dance videos produced by Koo Koo Kangaroo (available to watch for free on Youtube) and my students have come to love dancing to “Dinosaur Stomp” and “No Crust” in particular. Overdoing this type of activity is a serious no-no, but once in a while it is very useful to break up a rehearsal that lacks energy and focus and to reinforce a skill they desperately need.

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