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Over the past few years, May 4th has become a celebrated holiday in elementary music classrooms. And even though it falls on a weekend this year, that does not mean we cannot celebrate it. From movement activities to rhythm reading games, May 4th has become a day to celebrate John Williams’s Star Wars literature and, of course, Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. Here are some of my favorite mostly free resources to use on “May the fourth be with you…”:
Some of my favorite “play along” videos come from Professor Pedro Morales. He has the “Angry Birds Star Wars “Boss Battle Theme” Rhyhmic Reading” where the students perform quarter and eighth notes patterns and quarter rest rhythm patterns to the Imperial March. I enjoyed his videos so much that I have 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, Kindle Fire, and Google Play 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, space notes, or a custom order. 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 1:1classroom 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 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 mobile devices, tablets, or Chromebooks? You can download these Staff Wars from http://themusicinteractive.com/. It can be found under “Classroom Apps”.
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.
Alfonso Gonzalez showed this video of using foam pool noodles, or a variation of them, as light sabers to keep the steady beat to The Imperial March. He credits the incredible Tracy King for this idea.
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 the incredible 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!
Dave Brubeck’s Take Five
Let’s also remember that May 4 is 5/4. This makes is a great day to visit this unique time signature by studying Dave Brubeck’s Take Five. One of my students favorite and challenging activities is this one performed by the Orff Level I Belmont class. Watch the entire video as they change tempos the second time they perform this activity.
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