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Brent M. Gault On Listen Up! Fostering Musicianship Through Active Listening
By West Music Company
7/8/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Author Brent M. Gault explains the concepts behind his book Listen Up! Fostering Musicianship Through Active Listening

All individuals respond to music through listening. Since music listening is such a universal part of life, and the skills fostered through critical listening to music can transfer to many other areas, making listening an area of focus in a music curriculum is logical.
In elementary general music settings, children learn actively through direct experience with given concepts. As a result, it makes sense to approach listening instruction actively by using other musical behaviors (singing, moving, chanting, creating) and aural, visual, and kinesthetic learning modes as a way to develop a deeper connection with musical material while fostering musical skills and introducing or reinforcing musical concepts.

Listen Up! provides sample experiences that utilize music excerpts as a means of not only providing an opportunity for children to listen and experience given pieces of music, but to also foster musical skills and reinforce given musical concepts (rhythm, melody, form) that are prominent in the chosen selections. In addition to providing an overview of the planning process for developing these types of lessons and providing sample experiences for 23 specific pieces, a companion website includes Power Point presentations to accompany each experience that provide visual material students can view and respond to as they listen. The site also includes sample videos demonstrating some of the listen experiences and a link to a Spotify playlist that includes musical recordings.

The listening lessons in this book developed through my own exploration of active ways to introduce wonderful music to children. I have spent the last 20 years developing these ideas and utilizing them with children and teachers. Having the opportunity to put these together in one collection is extremely exciting, and I hope the book serves not only as a resource for existing lessons, but can also provide ideas that can be applied to other pieces of music.

-Brent Gault

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Tags: brent gault, listen up, teaching, listening, book, lessons, author
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources
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Active Music Making with Interactive Technology
By West Music Company
5/7/2016 9:58:00 AM  
Author: Manju Durairaj

Technology can be an aid to facilitate learning and teaching without compromising active music making. That is the core of effective general music instruction. Thoughtfully created PowerPoint, Word, or Notebook visuals and/or sequentially processed activities that use IWB and/or iPad/tablet can help develop, not limit the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication Skills.

Elementary music students can sing, move, dance, play instruments, notate, listen, create, and improvise in their music classes, even as the teacher uses technology-based medium to optimize and enrich student learning. Using PowerPoint or Smart Notebook application for Smartboard, one can create and edit images and pathways for vocal exploration. Animation features in PowerPoint allow students to vocally track a snowflake swirling in the wind, a bee buzzing from flower to flower, or a witch on a broomstick flying around a bonfire or in search of her cauldron of witch’s brew.

On the Interactive Whiteboard, one could create or insert an object such as a snowflake, leaf, bat, an owl, or a witch image. A contextual background and a series of related pathways may be created for the object. In a conscious effort to facilitate reading, most of the vocal or melodic contour explorations could begin on the left. Initially, the teacher may create the pathways and students may take turns coming to the Interactive Whiteboard, dragging the object along the pathway while vocalizing. Later they may create their own pathways for themselves or for their peers and work collaboratively. This is a great opportunity for quick formative assessment.

Interactive xylophones, recorders, hide and reveal activities, and smart response applications are all wonderful time saving, comprehensive, formative assessment tools. Images of objects, pathways, 2, 3, or 4 beat and pitch reading flash cards, maybe sent to iPads/ tablets via Dropbox, email, or QR codes may be accessed in the photo browser of the iPads/ tablets. Students may use whiteboard apps like Educreations (free) or Explain Everything (paid-upper elementary) to access and manipulate these images. These apps may be used to create rhythmic and melodic compositions that may be extended to movement, Orff instruments, and recorders.

Students can create, record, evaluate, and save their compositions onto student folders. The teacher may create digital portfolios for each student. These may contain screencasts, pdfs, video/audio etc. of student work, and can be easily retrievable for review for assessment, during parent conferences, and for grading purposes.

Technology is your friend!

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Tags: music education, music technology, Manju Durairaj, Educreations
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education
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Vocal Play with Young Children
By Lorna, MT-BC
9/29/2015 11:13:00 AM  

Music is a great way to enhance development in young children. Anyone can use music, whether they are parents, daycare providers, teachers, or therapists. One aspect of singing that is important with young children is vocal play. Vocal play can be used from infancy through preschool.

With babies, engaging in vocal play is very validating to them. Think of “motherese” and the natural lilting way that your voice changes when you speak lovingly to a baby. This is a natural way of speaking that enhances development. If they make noises at you, imitate them back. Make your noises sound like questions and answers. Have a “conversation” with them. It’s never too early to teach them how to have a real conversation someday. Don’t worry about feeling silly, babies love this!

With toddlers, you can play imitation games to work on listening and speech skills. For example, play a sort of my turn/your turn game with singing. Sing something easy like “la la”, using the first two pitches of “Ring around the Rosy”. You may need to tell them, “You sing: la la” Once they understand the game, use different word sounds, like “bee bo”, “da da”, “mi ma”, etc. Add different pitches and words for a fun vocal play game. You can also help toddlers feel validated as communicators by imitating the sounds or pitches that they initiate. Try using vocal play while riding in the car, waiting for dinner, or changing a diaper. 

With preschool-aged children, use silly songs with rhymes to explore language. Songs like, “Down by the Bay” provide opportunities to learn about rhyming words. Kids can suggest animals, and you can help them come up with rhymes, even if they’re silly nonsense words. This kind of vocal play contributes to language and literacy development. 

Enjoy singing with your child in a new way-try vocal play!

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Tags: Music Education, Infants and Music, Infants, Babies, Babies and Music, Youth Development, Infant Development, Toddler Development, Toddlers and Music, Vocal Play
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Therapy
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New School Year, New Inspirations
By West Music Company
8/5/2015 8:32:00 AM  

A new school year is right around the corner. New classes, new teachers, and new friends can all be great sources of inspiration. Channeling this inspiration through a musical instrument is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding way to express yourself - and there is little or no experience required! Hand drums, bells, and chimes are relatively easy to get started on, and you get instant satisfaction.

A set of bongos, like this pre-tuned set from Remo, is an inexpensive way get the musical juices flowing and build a sense of time and rhythm. Or try your hand at playing a recorder – a great, unintimidating instrument to start on! Shop Recorders

If you’re drawn more toward the melody of a song, then a chime or bell instrument might be more your style. Try this Basic Beat 8-note Glockenspiel, or this Chromatic 7-note Handbells Set.
It’s never too late to pick up music. Why not learn a skill that will stick with you the rest of your life!

Shop Kids Drums

Shop Kids & Movement

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Tags: back to school, bts, b2s, new school, inspiration, kids percussion, kids and movement, bells, glockenspiel
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education
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Dances of the Seven Continents
By West Music Company
4/23/2015 12:02:00 PM  
Author: Sanna Longden

Many of you have heard me say that, even though I am a dance educator, I really teach (here come all my “C’s”) civility, cooperation, community, creativity, consideration, communication, cultures, and character development.

Recently, a new set of “C’s” has come into our lives—the Common Core Curriculum (CCC)—and I’d like to suggest that my world dance CDs will help you to connect to this current criterion. And (moving on from the “C’s”), so will my DVDs. You’ll find many useful, educational, and enjoyable cultural dances and music games on my entire FolkStyle Productions series of five CDs and seven DVDs. However, here are some specific curriculum connections you can help your students make with my two CD-DVD set, Dances of the Seven Continents.

The title itself leads to Geography: There are actually only six continents—one big land mass is officially named Eurasia. Have the students find out why, and then locate their dances on the world map. Another idea is to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with “Waves of Tory” and find out where Tory is, and how the dance simulates these well-known waves. You can support World Language with dance titles and songs in Armenian, Bulgarian, Caribbean, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Spanish, Tahitian, Taiwanese, and Tibetan. Children from these countries would be thrilled to help with their languages.

For Science, the “Penguin Dance” could elicit much information about these amusing birds, as well as about snow, ice, and the Southern Hemisphere. Traditional dances from U.S. History are “Goin’ Down to Cairo,” “Here Comes Sally,” the “Yakima Round Dance” and “Haliwa-Saponi Canoe Dance,” and, of course, “Swing Dancing.” There are even ways to do Math with meters, measures, phrases, and formations. There’s lots more, especially the most important one, the Humane Curriculum—teamwork with “Mexican Clap Game,” “Thady You Gander,” and others, and humor in “Gustav’s Skøal,” “Ox Dansen,” and “Ach Jah.”

I hope you and your students will enjoy using these CDs and DVDs!

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Tags: dances of the seven continents, sanna longden, Common Core Curriculum, FolkStyle Productions,
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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A New Day for Music Education that Ensures ‘Every Child Achieves’
By West Music Company
4/13/2015 11:48:00 AM  
Author: Catherina Hurlburt

RESTON, VA. (April 7, 2015) – For the first time in education history, music has been recognized as a core subject in draft federal education policy. This is an unprecedented enumeration in proposed federal legislation.

Early this year, NAfME mobilized music advocates to send more than 10,000 letters to their lawmakers—and the result is a new bipartisan Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) proposal, the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” that retains the core academic subject section from No Child Left Behind, and, additionally, adds “music” as a specifically enumerated core academic subject (page 529 in this document). The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced the bipartisan agreement on “fixing ‘No Child Left Behind’” on April 7.

“This is game-changing news,” said NAfME Assistant Executive Director Chris Woodside. “This is an enormous achievement, and the DIRECT result of the incredible grassroots advocacy efforts of our members over the past few months. Today we are celebrating our members as we celebrate this crucial step forward.”

“The benefits of listing the arts as core demonstrate the importance of recognizing our nation’s education priorities at the federal level,” Woodside wrote recently in Roll Call. “The elimination of core academic subjects from ESEA would jeopardize national efforts to ensure that all students, regardless of race or economic status, have access to high quality school music programs. . . . music advocates . . . must engage with Congress to urge the inclusion of music in federal statute.”

As the Senate HELP Committee marks up this new proposal next week, NAfME will be present during those deliberations, standing for our members, in order to ensure that this crucial language is preserved in the draft.

NAfME has been the National Voice for Music Education from the beginning. Founded 108 years ago this week, in 1907, NAfME today represents 140,000 student and teacher members who are members of our middle/junior- and senior-high school Tri-M Music Honor Societies, Collegiate NAfME chapters on campuses around the nation, and particularly our more than 60,000 PreK-12 music teachers, who work daily to ensure our students receive a quality music education—which prepares them for the 21st century workplace. Our Broader MindedTM campaign, the result of recalibrated efforts in music education advocacy requested by our members, explains further those extrinsic and intrinsic benefits of music education.

National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 60,000 members, the organization is the voice of music education in the United States.

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Tags: NAFME, every child achieves act, music education, core subject, catherina hurlburt, Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA
Categories: Kids & Movement, Company Culture, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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A Song In My Heart
By West Music Company
4/10/2015 9:00:00 AM  

Authors: Peter and Mary Alice Amidon

A Song in my Heart
is a compilation of the best of our children’s music CDs recorded over 25 years with 7 additional new songs. It is a celebration of singing and dancing with children in elementary schools, music festivals, and dance camps, and with our own family. The songs reflect the riches of the folk repertoire, both traditional and contemporary. Here are singable choruses, lovely melodies, poetry and ballads: a wealth of songs which make connections with literature and with the universal themes of love, the seasons, and nature.

Many of the elementary schools in southern Vermont’s Windham County hold an All School Sing: a weekly gathering of staff, students, and some parents. Many of the songs on the ‘Song in My Heart’ CD were sung at the All School Sings we led when we were music teachers. Some songs marked the year: Martin Luther King for his birthday, Harriet Tubman for Black History Month, "Silver Rain" for Thanksgiving, "This Pretty Planet" for Earth Day, and "Mail Myself to You" for Valentine’s Day. We always enjoyed singing the song "Country Life", a rousing traditional English song from the Waterson family which sings of the joys of the seasons. "Now It’s Time to Go", Peter’s round, would often mark the end of the sing.

We composed two of the songs on Song in My Heart to deal with conflict resolution and bullying. My "Say What You Want" was inspired by a Responsive Classroom workshop on conflict resolution. Peter was commissioned by a school in Lititz, PA to write a song for their school about "Celebrating the Differences” and to include a verse about bullying, so he wrote "Brotherhood and Sisterhood". John McCutcheon’s wonderful song "The Kindergarten Wall" deals so well with social themes as well: “don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess!”

Song in My Heart includes our song settings of poems: Peter’s setting of "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear and my "Johnny Appleseed" by Steven and Rosemary Vincent Binet. Both of these poems have been published in picture book version, so one way to use the songs is to ‘sing’ the poems to the children or show them the picture books to the songs on the CD. “Singing” a book creates an opportunity to make a strong connection with literacy; "What a Wonderful World" and "I Miss You Everyday" (a companion to the Woody Guthrie song Mail Myself to You) are available as picture books. A kindergarten teacher once remarked to me that young children are intimately connected to a song, more so than to the written word, and therefore a book of a song is a dynamic tool for literacy learning. Big books and charts of songs also augment the experience of both written and oral language.

Orff teacher Judith Thomas remarked on the importance and integrity of “universals” in selection of repertoire. Sun, moon, stars, nature, and the seasons are reflected in many of the songs here. "Mr. Moon" and "Great Big Star" are elegantly simple tunes and examples of this both great for solos by children. Raffi’s "All I Really Need" is a hymn to universals: the sun and rain, food and a loving family as what we really need. My song "I’m Growing Up" was written to compliment a study of the life cycle. "The Seed in the Ground" by Connie Caldor is a celebration of the growth cycle of the seed into the flower and beginning again.

One second grade teacher used the song "Gentle Heart" to celebrate a child’s birthday: “If you want your dreams to be, take your time, go slowly, do few things but do them well, heartfelt work grows purely”, wise words to live by. We hope that this CD will both inspire many and fill children with songs in their hearts.

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Tags: Peter Amidon, Mary Alice Amidon, A Song In My Heart, children's music
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Ring, Dance, and Play
By Griff Gall and Paul Weller
3/11/2015 11:02:00 AM  
Choirchimes are a versatile instrument found in many classrooms. This instrument is frequently used in an ensemble setting, similar to a traditional handbell choir. However, many educators are quickly discovering their value as a classroom instrument. Ring, Dance, and Play is the first resource of its kind to treat Choirchimes as an Orff instrument, incorporating them into the type of lessons and activities music educators will find familiar. This was our main objective as we sat out to create this resource. We wanted to create lessons that would demonstrate how Choirchimes could be seamlessly integrated into the general music classroom. To achieve this, we created lessons that utilize Choirchimes in an elemental style associated with Orff Schulwerk. This book contains lessons based on folksong arrangements, traditional Schulwerk source materials and original compositions for recorder and Choirchimes. Many lessons incorporate movement as well as improvisation or composition components. We hope that Ring, Dance, and Play inspire music educators to explore the value of Choirchimes as a classroom instrument.

Shop for Choirchimes here!

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Tags: griff gall, paul weller, choirchimes, handbell, orff, schulwerk
Categories: Orff, Kids & Movement, Music Education
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Why Use Children's Literature In The Music Classroom?
By Sandy Lantz & Gretchen Wahlberg
2/24/2015 8:50:00 AM  
There are thousands of reasons to use children’s literature books in your music classroom. Here are just a few:

• Children just love books. They look at pictures, read the words, and escape into the pages of an adventure.

• All students enjoy having a story read out loud to them regardless of their age.

• Every element in music can easily be taught using books as a catalyst.

• Students can be composers with literature as a base. They can create a “B” section using words from the pages of a book; add verses to an existing story; establish mood of a story using different modalities; improvise melodies to represent characters in the story.

• Sound effects are a must with books. Who doesn’t want to make the sound of a “Crash”, “Boom”, “Splash” or “Plunk”?!

• Standards in our music curriculum include accompanying a musical work, performing in front of others, critiquing others’ performances. Children’s literature inspires these activities in the music classroom.

• Common Core Curriculum is all around us. Mainstreaming children’s literature and music is a natural connection.
Sandy and Gretchen are authors of Drum It Up and Creative Bits With Children's Lit.

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Tags: Sandy Lantz, Gretchen Wahlberg, music classroom, children's literature, children's books
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources, Music Education
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I'm Growing Up: Action Songs, Singing Games, And Stories For Young Children
By West Music Company
2/9/2015 11:31:00 AM  
Amidon collaborated with Mary Alice Amidon and Andy Davis to make “I’m Growing Up” a valuable resource - a book with CD and DVD combined - to give teachers of young children a wide array of tried and true movement activities for children ages 3-7. The introduction captures the meaning of this collection: "The materials in this book invite children to immediately discover ways to connect with language, their hands and feet, their imagination and with their community. In many ways these kinds of activities are essential to later development with dance, song and story. They establish the pattern of connecting ear, voice, body heart and mind in a community form of musical expression."

The collection includes music activities that reflect the rhythms of daily life such as "Wake Me, Shake Me" with its celebration of morning activities and closing songs "Bye Bye Butterfly" and “Shake Hands with Friends". We mark the seasons with songs like "A Basket of Apples", "Applesauce Rock", "Chopping Firewood" and "Seed in the Ground". Counting and rhyming are abundant in action songs like "When I Was One", a traditional song from Britain, or "Twenty Four Robbers" in its strong American off beat chanting style. We include dramatic interpretation of a nursery rhyme with characters in "Sing a Song of Sixpence". Some of the most popular and frequently requested pieces are those with contrasting sections, going between resting and moving as in "Sleeping Bunnies" or "Twinkle Blues" or "Here we go Riding our Ponies". Dances in circles and scatter formation with group singing, recitation, and dancing strengthen the sense of community while at the same time reinforcing the individual's fine and gross motor skills: from fingerplays with their compelling tiny movements interpreting little poetry gems ("Here is the boat, the golden boat that sails on the silvery sea") and full body movements of "Mi Cuerpo" or "You Put Your Right Hand In" or "My Poor Hand is Shaking".

The story games empower children to both retell and to physically act out the stories, inviting children to enter into the magical world of imagination. We have gathered our favorite pieces from our experiences with children, as our introduction states: "traditional music activities that have integrity, rhythm, singable melodies and – above all - the opportunity to participate immediately". Some of the activities are composed by living artists. Other pieces are drawn from "the vast river of anonymous creations that live in the lives of children, teachers, schools and communities." "I'm Growing Up with hopes and dreams, making my way in the world."

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Tags: I'm Growing Up, Mary Alice Amidon, Andy Davis, music education, children, kids, action songs, music games, singing games, fingerplays, music stories
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education
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