59/100 Music Resources from Oxfam



While on the hunt for music for “Cauliflowers Fluffy” I discovered that Oxfam have a whole load of resources for music – Hurray!

I have copied and pasted this ENORMOUS link into my browser and found a host of Harvest songs from all over the world. I’m really looking forward to doing “Mama will you buy me a banana” with year 3 and 4 as a lesson “extra”:


Otherwise, go to the Oxfam resources and explore what’s on offer:

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education, and scroll down. If you click on curriculum and choose music you will find 6 different sets; I’ve got

“Human Rights” as a topic in one school, so this might be useful


Happy Hunting…



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58/100 Cauliflowers Fluffy

Today I had another go at teaching “Cauliflowers fluffy”. Yesterday I was able to stream the song, lyrics, backing tracks etc using my www.singup.org membership, as an interim while we searched high and low for the CD, which we will need when we sing it at he Harvest Festival in church next week.

Today I found a battered red CD with a label stuck inside the cover; Cauliflowers Fluffy track 32, and thought life would be easier. No such luck. The CD has had a rough life, and now goes

“c-c-c-c-auliflowers fluf-f-f-f-f-y, cabbages-bages-bages-bages green”. The internet was down so I taught it unaccompanied – what a good job I’d had the chance to get a handle on the tune yesterday. I must be the only primary school music teacher in the country who hadn’t actually sung that song before.

There are a lot of words in the song for the children to learn. Yesterday I tried having pictures of all the vegetables to use as sort of flash cards. Perhaps the main failure was asking the children (year 1 and 2) to draw the vegetables on whiteboards? The cabbage was represented by a couple of leaf shapes, when I was expecting something more like a football. The marrow, (“fattening hour by hour”) was instantly recognisable, but that is becuase the only person in the room apart from me who knew what one looks like is the very artistic teaching assistant. Sadly, the child who took on the job of being “Mr Marrow” had changed his mind before we had got to verse three…

Today, with the older children, I tried hand signs to describe the vegetables. It’s quite hard to pull a face while singing “rhubarb sour” but a lot of the chldren can do it.  I was particularly pleased with “runner beans flat”… making my fingers run through the air and snap shut on the word “flat”. Well, I know the words now, even if the children aren’t too sure.

Three challenges left;

  • somehow get my hands on the music before next Friday,
  • train ALL the children to sing “turnips cream” instead of “turnips scream”
  • persuade them NOT to do the funny faces and hand mimes in church.

No sweat.

Edible Cauliflower & Olive Sheep-So cute

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57/100 Ukulele extras

By the way, you may be wondering about this year’s weird post-numbering system; I promised myself (and you) that I would attempt to get 100 posts up in 2016.

Back to the topic; I have discovered that I will be teaching ten 1-hour sessions of ukuleles to a year 2/3 class this term. A WHOLE HOUR! was my first reaction! I’m used to 45 minute sessions, but those extra 15 minutes…

WI’ll have to limit the amount of actual playing we do, as I have discovered that there are always some children in the group who strum so heavily that they give themselves blisters. I shall be doing all the usual games and songs, but have also devised a list of writing activities that they can get going on while I am wrestling with the technology (logging in, plugging in,) and tuning those ukes. Here’s the sort of thing that I have in mind;

  •   Draw a picture of a ukulele.  Label the soundhole, frets, strings, nut, bridge
  •  Make up new lines for “My Dog Has Fleas”
  •  Copy and clap these rhythm cards
  •  Make up your own rhythm cards and clap them. Each one must have four shapes on it. Choose from
  • See if your friend can clap them
  •  Make up a song about what you like to eat, using the tune of “Star light, Star bright”
  • For example, “I like chocolate cake, with some chocolate icing”
  •  Copy the chord chart for the chord C7. Now practice playing it. Take turns with a friend
  •  Copy the chord chart for the chord C. (1, 2, 3, easy-peasy-C). Now practice playing it. Take turns with a friend.
  •  Change the words of “Rain on the Green grass, rain on the trees, rain on the roof-tops, but not on me” to make a new song.
  •  Write the word FORTE in LOUD writing
  • Write the word PIANO in SOFT writing
  • Make some rhythm cards to play FORTE and PIANO

I’ve always got paper and a pencil case full of random pencils in my teaching back. The children can keep their work in plastic file pockets and take them away at the end of the ten lessons. I’m just waiting for them to ask “what is ‘soft’ writing’?…..” Have a look at this for ideas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dNLAhL46xM  although you might want to be selective about which snips you share with the children.




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56/100 Those Mixed Keyboard Ensembles

This is my second year of teaching mixed ability, mixed age, mixed experience keyboard ensembles. There is a long history behind these groups, which is lost in the mists of time.

The situation at the moment is that there are around 13-15 on the register, who usually turn up, and range in ability from “this is my first day and I’ve never played any instrument before” to “I’ve been having individual lessons for four years”. They also range in age from 5 (yes, 5 years old!) to 15 (yes, 15 years old!)

As you can imagine, it is an “interesting” group to manage. A friend of mine once commented that music, and maybe chess, were perhaps the only activities where all ages could take part without an appreciable handicap of age. A mixed ensemble makes it possible for the abilities to be very varied as well…

I plan to start this term with La Cucaracha:


La Cucaracha


So, the children who arrive, never having touched a keyboard in their lives before, should be able to manage the bottom line. The ones who have been coming for a term or so, but have nearly forgotten how to read music, will manage the middle line (some tricky counting to keep them busy), and the others can get to grips with a dotted crotchet, counting the rhythm, and change of hand position and a pesky little B flat.

I’ve a couple more ensembles along this line. This would work as is for clarinets, and you could move it into D major for your violin/mixed string ensemble class. (It’s a nice little ukulele piece too; just F and C7 chords)

birds on a branch divider


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55/100 The New Term Starts – PLANNING!

I’ve been notified of my school classes for this coming year, and am beginning to schedule where I go to teach what and when! Always a tricky one.

The school classes are sorts: Ukulele on Monday afternoons, Class Music on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, Samba on Wednesday mornings, and my extraordinary keyboard ensembles on Saturday mornings..

Two mornings of piano teaching at a local school to arrange, and then the tricky problem of scheduling my evening piano pupils. That all depends on gymnastics, karate, swimming, first aid, Duke of Edinburgh, basketball, ballet, extra coaching, and other activities. Hopefully everything will have dropped into place before I start teaching in earnest on 12th September!

Meanwhile, I have been planning and planning and planning…

I have gone through the piano books for several of my pupils who want to take piano exams later this academic year. I don’t usually plan piano lessons in such minute detail, but I have had too many uncomfortable “near squeaks” with these particular pupils. This time I am ready for them! I have chosen the pieces that I think will suit them, and actually written out, week by week for the whole year, exactly what their target for each week is. If they stick to, or exceed their target, then everyone can be reasonably certain that they WILL be more than ready for their exams. Plus I can discuss and agree the commitment before we embark upon the whole adventure. It feels a bit like planning a trek to the North Pole…

So here’s the whole year’s plan for her ABRSM Grade 5 in tiny, tiny detail. This pupil is easily overwhelmed, and will quickly become despondent if she can’t succeed within just one or two attempts.  At the end I’ve put some remarks about practising, which we can go over in the lessons.

A2 Allegro                 B2 Tarantella           C3 Cool

“A piece a week” sight reading every week 

Week Allegro Tarantella C 3 Cool Scales


Bars 1-3 sep Bars 1-6 and 40-46 sep Bar 1-4, RH only, count1a2a3a4a. Identify all times  phrase appears C major and minor (always sep tog, scales, arps, and chromatics)


Bars 1-3 sep Bars 1-6 and 40 – 46 tog Revise RH only all occurrences of 1-4. Learn LH 1-4 G major and minor


Bars 1-3 tog Bars 6-8 and 46-48 sep bar 5 hands sep all occurrences D major and minor


Bar 4 RH, Bar 4-5 LH Bars 6-11 and 46- 52 tog All occurrences of bars 1-5 tog A major and minor


Bar 4 tog, Bar 5 sep Bars 6-11 and 46- 52 tog Bars 6-8 sep

Count 1a2a3a4a

 E and E major and minor


Bar 5 RH

Bar 5-7 LH

Bars 1-11 and 40-52 together Revise 1-5, add 6-8 tog B major and minor


Bar 4-5 tog

Bar 6-7 RH

Bars 1-11 and 40-52 together Compare 14-16 with 6-8, learn hands sep Gb/F# major and minor
Half term



review review review review


Bar 6 tog, Bars 1-6 tog Bars 12-16 sep and tog Page 1 hands together review


Bar 7 sep and tog Bars 16-20 sep and tog Page 1 hands together with pedal F major and minor, start contrary


Bar 7 tog, bar 8 sep and tog  Bars 12-20 sep and tog Bar 45-47 compare with 5-7

Hands sep and tog

F major and minor, start contrary


Bar 1-8 together

Last 6 beats sep and together

Bars 21-32 LH

Bars 1-20 tog

Bar 33-45 together F major and minor, contrary, add B flat major


Bar 1-8 together

Last 6 beats sep and together

Bars  21-32 LH

Bars 20-32 RH

RH only 48 to end B flat major and minor

Spring Term 



Review Review


review review


Bars 9-10 sep Review, add bar 33 Revise,

Learn LH bar 48

E flat major and minor


Bars 9-10 tog Bars 34-36 sep Revise,

Learn LH 48-51

E flat major and minor


Bars 11-12 sep Bars 34-36 together Tog 48 to end A flat/ G# major and minor


Bars 11-12 tog Consolidate Tog 33-end A flat /G# major and minor


Play through first page Consolidate LH bar 17-20 D flat/ C# major and minor


Consolidate, start second page Consolidate Hands sep 17-20 D flat/ C# major and minor
Ski Break Half Term


Bars 14-16 sep and tog Review,

Bars 36-37 sep and together

Hands sep/tog 17-20 Add D flat/ C# contraries


Bar 17 sep and tog Bars 38-39 sep and together Revise 17-20 tog

LH 21-24

All learned – only polishing


Bar 18-19 sep and tog Play through 1-52 Hands sep 21-24

Revise 17-20 tog



Bar 20-21 sep and tog Hands sep 52 to end Bars 21-24 tog

Bars 17-24 tog



Bar 22-23 sep and tog Hands together 52 to end Bars 25-27 sep and tog  


Last bar Play through whole piece Bars 29-29-30 sep and tog  


 Summer Term 



Review Review Review review


Work on sticky places All learned – only polishing Bars 29-32 sep and tog  


    All learned, add pedal/dynamics  




Half Term













 Every practice:        Pieces as marked – 5-10 mins each piece

Scales as set – 5-10 mins until accurate and secure

Sight reading exercises – 5 mins

 How to Practice;     Work in small sections – make sure you understand what you are trying to achieve: fingering? Or rhythm? Or notes? Or hands together coordination? Or dynamics/articulation?

 Don’t gloss over mistakes, but focus in on sticky patches until you can play them cleanly. Award yourself points for good scales/arpeggios, or excellent sections, however small, in your pieces!

The exams will take place sometime after 12th June… that seems such a long way into the future…

birds on a branch divider

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54/100 “So-Mi” songs, Bee Bee

Another So-mi song which I use all the time with classes up to the age of about 7

Bee Bee

It’s well worth indicating the pitch movement in the melody, with Kodaly hand movements or just by moving your hand up, down, or even higher. (“which words are we singing when I point up in the air”). Otherwise the children will all be individually creative and compose their own version of the melody. Which might be an interesting way of starting pentatonic composition, but isn’t in the scope of this post.

There still are loads of things you can do with this little song; once the children know it well. My two favourites are having one class clap (or play on percussion) the pulse (“I say you’re out”) all the way through, while the others clap or play the rhythm. This moves into simple two-part or three-part samba or djembe piece, when the group can play the three different rhythms “Bee Bee Bumble Be”; “Stung a man upon his knee, which is the same as “stung a pig upon his snout”; and “I say you’re out” at the same time.

Or, stand the children in a circle, and choose one child to stand in the middle and be the “Bee”. As everyone sings the song together, the “Bee” points to each child in turn, keeping the pulse. Whoever they are pointing to on the word “out” is the next bee, and they swap places and off we go again. Trickier than you would think. If it is a bigger class, once they’ve got the hang of it, choose two or more bees to go round at the same time. If you are feeling adventurous, bored, or think the children need a challenge, get the bees to go round in different directions. Younger children will probably have attempted this by accident already.

The Queen Bee

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53/100 “So-mi” songs – Leo the Lion

I have updated the ukulele page with some more simple songs, using Am7 (open strings), C chord, and F chord, but, looking back, I haven’t published the notation for these songs before.

So here are a few posts to get the notation up.

I use a small soft toy for this game (my colleague used a stuffed lion). So, it can be Dilly the Dog, Larry the Lamb, Billy the badger, and once, but never again, Dilly the Duck.

Here’s the song:

Leo the Lion


And here’s how you play the game:

feeding the lions

It starts with one person/child holding the hungry animal.

The class sings “Leo the Lion, what do you say, who would you like to eat today?”

Whoever has got the animal sings the name of the person they choose “I’d like Lucy”

The class then sings “How would you like to eat her?”

And the person with the animal replies “On a pizza”

And the class sings “Yum yum yum” while the animal gets passed (thrown!) to Lucy. Off we go again.

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52/100 Brushing up on Sight Reading

'4′33″ (In Proportional Notation)' (1952/53) by Cage. (©2013 John Cage Trust/The Museum of Modern Art)

4′33″ (In Proportional Notation)’ (1952/53) by Cage. (©2013 John Cage Trust/The Museum of Modern Art)
Image from http://observer.com/2014/01/there-will-never-be-silence-scoring-john-cages-433-at-the-museum-of-modern-art/


I’ve just bought some of the new syllabus ABRSM piano teaching books to have a look at what’s coming up for next term. So I open them up, and start playing through – and


where have my sight-reading skills gone? I used to just blast through the books, not really working up any kind of “brain-heat” until about Grade 5.

That just goes to show what happens when I’m not practising enough. My fingers felt all disconnected and uncooperative. So, I have set myself the task of checking through a whole grade every day – going through the complete scales and arpeggios list, and then analysing ALL the pieces, making proper notes about techniques, trappy rhythms, suitability for the students I have in mind for the grade. I haven’t done this for a while, but it is proving an interesting experience, especially in the light of the Paul Harris “Simultaneous Learning” ideas that I have picked up.

I haven’t bought his book (yet!)

but I had the chance to explore some of the ideas in a study session on a staff training day. Initially I thought – yeah, another “new thing” . Actually, having used the Practice Starter cards in many of my piano lessons this term, and had a good look at the practice map

Product Details

I’m changing my mind. I’m up to grade 3 now, my fingers are re-discovering how the piano works, and my sight-reading is less rusty.

I’ve also bought “A piece a week” book 1 and 2 (the only grades so far) for a couple of pupils who are approaching grade 1 (a quick learner and good note reader) and grade 3 (needs a lot of experience in reading rhythm)

Product Details

and a sight-reading duet book

for a young lad who has a totally closed mind about his ability to read music in spite of being grade 4 violin. He does everything by ear – what a talent! – but has zero confidence in note reading.

Let’s see where this gets us next term…

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