Summer Music Class

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    I will be teaching a summer music class once a week for an hour at a high school in the Philippines where my fiance lives. They don’t typically have a music class and its really up to me what I want to do. I was thinking of doing some fun choral songs (by rote since I don’t have enough music for everyone) and maybe put on a small program at the end of the summer, but I would like my classes to involve more than that. Any ideas for large units I can do over the summer? I definitely want to puts listening in there and maybe some movement?


    For fun songs, I always go to summer camp songs!! Here is a sort of database of summer camp songs, some of which are classroom standards.

    I would do Silly Songs, Animal Songs, Character Songs (tarzan, for ex.) as units. You can break each song down to focus on the rhythm, melodic contour, high/low, fast/slow etc. Movement goes hand-in-hand with listening. I would just choose famous Classical pieces and do simple movements with them. See John Feierabend’s “Move It” DVD / online videos. I honestly haven’t purchased it; I borrowed it from a colleague once and decided that some of the songs used the same movements (right hand drop down, left hand drop down, hands together up, hands together down). One of my predecessors purchased his steady beat CD, which I use with my little kids for marching, tapping the beat and hand movements.
    Hope that helps!!


    Loved all of Maria’s idea.

    You can also consider doing a recycled music lesson or two. The best is one I participated in at the Conn-Selmer Institute in Indiana–the presenter was from Moorhead University if I remember right. At any rate, it was top notch. You start by putting a rhythm of quarter notes on the side of the drum (you actually should start with patting the beat, and then clapping eighth notes, etc. but I’m cutting to the chase). Then eighth notes go on the rim of the drum, then sixteenth notes go on the top of the drum. But the drums are buckets from the hardware store or gallon size ice cream buckets. You can have them create their own music or you can create a pattern and have them read it. It is REALLY fun–I could have been there all morning just doing that! If you bring in some maracas made out of rice and tupperware, you can add that into the mix as well. The high school age kids would love making the rhythms and/or instruments as well.

    Another one that is great for high school that I got from the same conference is taking pool noodles…find a classical piece where the kids march around like soldiers and then during the B section it goes into something different and they get to wack each other with the pool noodles. They begin to learn about form in a fun way and we did it and it didn’t hurt a bit. Of course, you have to have a lot of classroom management for this one to work properly and I have to admit I’ve never done it with my elementary students but she did it with her university students and they LOVED it.

    I have managed to teach adults to move to A and B sections at our Parent University Class by giving them scarves. When the A section comes on the feet freeze and the scarves still move but only up high or low if the music is high/low. Then during the B section they have to float around the room. We then had them sit down and learn rhythms using apples–Gala = two eighth notes, Granny = two quarter notes, Jazz = half note, etc. Then we used the apples put together to make different rhythms. That’s really fun as they get creative and then we changed into showing them what the notes would really look like and it got them to understand symbols in music using something they were familiar with.

    Good luck.

    Bridget James
    Western Division Representative
    Council for General Music Education, NAfME

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