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This spring has been a musical time at my school. At this time of year, our school gives many opportunities to showcase the elementary students with concerts, grade plays, talent assemblies, and more. This post gives music educators some ideas for concert music, curriculum, and performance opportunities.
When I can integrate with integrity across the curriculum, I jump at the chance. There are ways to successfully do this while keeping the music curriculum intact. For example, our third graders are assigned a state to research and present about at their annual “Adventure America” day in April. In music class, we do focus on performance by learning and singing Ray Charles’s Fifty Nifty and Teresa Jenning’s Allegiance Rap. In addition, we use noteflight and garageband to compose a create a state song that each student can successfully perform on their recorders. To see their end products, please check back soon to my website: http://www.amymburns.com
In May, our second graders have two performances. The integrated study of immigration and empathy that occurs in their classroom and in their music classes, has the second graders studying the life and choices of the von Trapp Family. The second graders learn about the lives of the family, the circumstances of their immigration, about how the true story differs greatly from the movie about Maria’s life, The Sound of Music, and they learn about the major scale through performing songs from the movie at their Heritage Festival.
Years ago, a former music educator began the talent assemblies as a way to showcase those students who take private lessons and practice on their own time. We have continued this tradition for years and we now hold two assemblies to accommodate all of the students’ talents.
Our first grade held a curriculum-based play titled “Poetry Party.” This play involved all first graders reciting poetry and singing songs. The songs helped to achieve 1st grade music performance standards. The students sang songs and performed accompaniments on classroom instruments. Songs included poetry set to music, such as “There Was an Old Lady,” “Cincinnati Donut Song,” and “I Had a Little Chickie,” and songs that enhanced those students who were trying to write poems, such as “Rhyme Trouble.”
It is that time of year when the kindergartners will be receiving their diplomas and moving on to first grade. This year is extremely poignant for me because my daughter, who attends my school, will be graduating kindergarten. Having to lead the songs without crying “happy tears” (as she and I call them) will be a challenge. We will be performing two songs: “Kindergarten” to the tune of “Love and Marriage,” and “If Just One Person,” from the musical Snoopy. For “Kindergarten,” you need a class that has a good range to sing that song. In addition, since the key of “If Just One Person” is high, I used Audacity to lower the key of the accompaniment. I have to say that when I went to look at Youtube to find Kindergarten graduation songs, I found many that could work. When I went to check at the time of writing this post, I found many more. It is a great place to find a kindergarten graduation song as many parents are posting videos of their children singing the songs.
Spring Concert: Grandparents’ Day (grade 2 selections):
At the beginning of May, we celebrate our grandparents through many activities that conclude with a concert performed by grades 2, 4, and 7. For this concert, the second graders performed the following:
- Rhythm of Life: Fantastic arrangement of this song from Sweet Charity. We had two pianists perform with the students in grades 2, 4, and 7, and it brought down the house…and it was our opener.
- Armed Services Medley: We celebrated those in our audience who are serving or who have served in the armed services by singing their songs in a sing-along medley. Beautiful.
- Give Us Hope: I adore Papoulis’s songs and I have to say that this is now my favorite. This piece is gorgeous and sends a wonderful message, especially when the second graders sang it with the faculty choir.
- Everlasting Melody: This was our concert closer and with our pianist and drummer accompanying us, our students in grades 2, 4, and 7 closed the concert with energy and enthusiasm.
Our PreK also performed a concert in their classroom area that highlighted their classroom “Around the World” unit. We sang hello songs from America, Australia, Germany, a happy new year song from China, a summer song from America, and we ended with a patriotic song that the audience sang along with the PreK. This concert was heartwarming and joyous! I found many of these songs on Mama Lisa’s World website: http://www.mamalisa.com/
Last Day of School:
On our last day of school, we hold an annual ceremony that celebrates the children moving up to the next grade. During this ceremony, we perform the following songs:
- Best Day of My Life arranged by Roger Emerson: This will be our opener and sets the tone wonderfully!
- We Are The Young by Mary Strid: This song has been around for years and with its lyrics of, “Teach us well, teach us how to care. Give us love, love that we can share. And we walk hand in hand to the light of the rising sun. We are the young,” it is a perfect closing number to end the school year.
To check out my entire year of concert music, please visit my pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/awillisburns/concert-music-2014-2015/
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