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Over the past few years, May 4th has become a celebrated holiday in elementary music classrooms. From movement activities to rhythm reading games, May 4th has become a day to celebrate John Williams’s Star Wars literature. Here are some of my favorite mostly free resources to use on “May the fourth be with you…”:
Youtube Videos for Reading and Performing Rhythms:
Some of my favorite “play along” videos come from Professor Pedro Morales. He has the “Rhythmic Reading Star Wars” video where the students read and perform quarter and eighth note rhythm patterns with the Imperial March. There is also the “Angry Birds Star Wars” where the students perform quarter note and quarter rest rhythm patterns to the Cantina March. I enjoyed these two videos so much that I created screen shots from the videos and turned it into a lesson where the students performed the rhythm patterns solo before they performed them with the video. You can download the SMART Notebook file here, which includes the two videos embedded within the file. Scroll all the way down to, “May the fourth be with you…”
Finally, let’s not forget musication’s boomwhacker play along videos for Imperial March and the Star Wars Theme. In addition, Orff Wars, which shows an arrangement for Orff instruments and Boomwhackers.
Note Reading and Performing Website and App:
Staff Wars and Staff Wars Live are two of my students’ favorite apps. Staff Wars iOS app by TMI Media for .99 allows the students to destroy the Death Star by naming the notes that are flying across the screen. The app can set up notes in sequential order, line notes, or space notes. It accommodates treble, bass, alto, and treble/bass clefs. With my elementary students, I set it to lines or spaces. You can use this in a 1:1 classroom setting. However, if that is not possible, you can group the students to play the game on a few devices. If you have one device, you can create a station or connect the iOS device to a big screen and have them name notes by calling out, writing them down, or dividing them into teams.
Staff Wars Live iOS app by TMI Media for .99 allows the students to play the note that is flying across the staff on their instruments. I have successfully used recorders, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, and voice with this app. The voice can be a little tricky. However, I love that I can detune the notes in this app to accommodate sharp flutes and flat clarinets and saxophones.
Don’t have iOS devices? You can download these two programs from http://themusicinteractive.com/. Staff Wars can be found under “Classroom Apps” and Staff Wars Live can be found under “Performance Apps”, called Staff Wars V2.
Owen Hjuz created and shared this Star Wars Vocal Exploration on the Facebook Feierabend Fundamentals page. Thank you Owen!
The amazing Dr. Missy Strong shared this Move It! movement activity to The Imperial March on the Feierabend Association for Music Education (FAME) page (you have to be a FAME member to view it). As quoted from https://www.feierabendmusic.org/move-it-imperial-march/:
“Relive the exciting adventures of Darth Vader as you dress up in the armor, command vast Imperial forces, and pilot your own ship through the galaxy, and May the 4th, we mean, Force be with you!” Highly recommended!
My good friend, Cherie Herring, created this parachute movement activity to showcase the form of the Theme from Star Wars. This is one of my students’ favorite activities. This has become so popular that a 5th grade emulated it with two large parachutes in a gym.
More Free Resources for May the Fourth Be With You:
It is always great to check Pinterest. This post links to many other resources that include blog posts and Star Wars arrangements for boomwhackers.
Malinda Phillips (My Musical Menagerie), a popular TPT seller for music manipulatives and lessons, created this blog post two years ago. It includes wonderful ideas for May 4th, along with a free download of Star Wars Rhythm Patterns! She also quotes Tracy King’s Steady Beats Pool Noodles (she calls them swords, but I would not be able to call them that) to use as Light Sabers with The Imperial March.
Finally, my personal favorite, The Piano Guys’s Cello Wars!
I hope that these resources are something you can use. May the fourth be musically with you!
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