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On Friday, May 30, I held a first-ever NJMEA PreK Music Webinar. Last summer, NJMEA President Joe Jacobs asked me to join the board of NJMEA as the Early Childhood Music Chair. I was honored and thrilled to be asked. My first goal was to give more opportunities for professional development for early childhood music educators. I first set up an early childhood page on NJMEA’s website and then decided to hold a PreK Music Webinar using Google+ Hangouts. I debated on using the “on air” feature of Google’s Hangouts so that it could be live-streamed; however, since I was showing video footage from my classroom, I did not want to live stream my students’ faces. Therefore, I set up a Google + Hangout and we successfully held our webinar. It was small in attendance as it was our first webinar and it was held on a Friday afternoon from 3:30-5:30. I thank Martha and Karen for attending, for being in wonderful spirits, for asking great questions, and for contributing excellent ideas. It was a wonderful and well-spent two hours. (To see my powerpoint, minus the videos of my students due to reasons of privacy, please visit my website at http://www.amymburns.com).
Here is a summary of what was discussed in the webinar:
Technology: Google+ Hangouts worked better than I expected. There were times when I needed to boost the sound a little louder; however, we all entered the Hangout easily and I could share my desktop successfully so that everyone could see the videos of the students.
Pacing: I began the webinar showing the participants what would be my typical pacing or outline of a PreK music class that I see twice a cycle for 30 minutes each class. This is just an outline, as a PreK music educator has to expect that there will be days when the students are effected by the weather, or if they stayed up late the night before, or if two or more students had a problem with each other that day, or if the bathroom epidemic arises, etc, and this outline could be altered or thrown out all together.
- Welcome Song
- Finger plays
- Movement Activity – this could involve tempo, or levels (high, middle, low), or fine motor skills, or gross motor skills, or moving to the steady beat, or moving to dynamics changes, or moving to form, etc.
- Finger play or book – read a book that the class will move to or sing to or add instruments.
- Activity related to the finger play or book – movement with props, perform on instruments, or act out song.
- Sing a song
- Perform a chant
- Perform a group movement activity like a circle activity from Music and Movement for PreK by Steven Traugh.
- Goodbye activity
Videos: Throughout the webinar I showed video examples from two of my PreK classes, age 4-5. Each video showed an example from the outline above.
Materials: As I showed videos of each of the activities, I then followed with the materials that I used in the classroom. These were the materials that were shown:
- Music Together – Songs for Welcome and Goodbye
- Matching Pitch Activity – Songs used were “Sing Your Name” and “Let’s Go Round in a Circle”
- Cross-Curricular: Learning about the sounds and names of the seven letters of the musical alphabet using the songs from Denise Gagné’s Alphabet Action Songs. In addition, I showed Movement Songs Children Love, Sing and Play on Special Days, and Singing Games Children Love V1, all written or complied by Denise.
- I showed Denise’s website which lists some PreK music lessons. In addition, she writes about an upcoming PreK music curriculum that she is authoring!
- Finger plays/Movement Songs – For this activity, we performed “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.” We then used Music and Movement in the Classroom by Steve Traugh for PreK/K to perform the medley of the two songs listed above along with “The Chicken Dance.” At the end of the song, “The Chicken Dance” increases in tempo, in which the students then experienced the tempo change through movement and the terms largo and vivace. This is one of my students’ favorite activities.
- Songs: “BINGO,” “John the Rabbit,” and “Hop Old Squirrel” – For these three songs, we sang, moved and performed the rhythm patterns that occur in each song on classroom instruments. “BINGO” has ta ta ti-ti ta, “John the Rabbit” has ti-ta, and “Hop Old Squirrel” has ta ta ta sh.
- Assessment: After we performed the three songs above, we played “Pass the Drum” with the three rhythm patterns. In the game of “Pass the Drum,” the students pass the drum to the song. When the song stops, the student holding the drum has to perform one of the three rhythm patterns correctly. Additionally, I would assess them with the criteria “student can perform the rhythm pattern on his/her own,” “student can perform the rhythm pattern with assistance from the teacher,” “student can only perform the rhythm pattern only with the teacher performing it as well,” or “student cannot or will not perform the rhythm pattern. I did not discuss the rubric in the webinar. Instead, we discussed when we have begun teaching musical notation to young students.
- Movement Stories: Using the book, Movement Stories for children ages 3-6, the students and I use movement to act out the stories in the book. Many of the moves are related to yo
ga. To enhance the story and movement, the music educator should pick out music to play in the background.
- Moving expressively with scarves – Using a CD titled Musical Scarves and Activities, the students moved musically and expressively to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
After showing the various videos, we discussed John Feierabend’s materials and how effective they are in the PreK music classroom, especially First Steps in Music and Music for Little People. I particularly like using the ones that relate to pitch exploration and movement with my PreK. I mentioned that when I read about PreK music in music teacher groups on social media, John Feierabend’s materials are consistently discussed and praised.
We ended by discussing some of our favorite PreK books like Today is Monday by Eric Carle (for rhythm patterns and days of the week), Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow (for Australia and liking who you are), Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin and John Archambault (for tempo and dynamics), and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen (for rhythm patterns and movement) to just name a few.
We finished the webinar by sharing our stories and materials. Martha shared the wonderful site: http://www.wejoysing.com/. This webinar was a great two hours and I am so glad that Martha and Karen were able to attend and share their experiences. I am hoping that this will begin a series of future webinars using Webex, where many music educators can join in and learn about a variety of topics in music education.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com