Issue 40: Olympic and Jubilee Celebrations – The National Anthem

The school will be celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee with a playground party and the singing of the National Anthem. That gave me an idea;

Resources; Enough copies of the National Anthem sheet below; all the pitched percussion you can lay your hands on which has the notes (in order) BCDEFGA

This is slightly tricky, as most smaller glockenspiels, xylophones, and sets of chime bars don’t go below C. However I ended up with 16 glockenspiels, one alto xylophone and three sets of chimes bars, to share among 30 year 3 and 4 children.

First of all we learned to sing the National Anthem, by “listen and copy”, building up line by line.

Once this was secure, I handed out the sheets and we looked at the letters under the words. This lead to a useful discussion about syllables, and one note for each syllable, except near the end of the tune. The dashes after to-, reign-, and God-, show where there are two notes for these syllables.

We were a little short of time, so I moved swiftly on to how the letters corresponded to the letters on the chime bars, and demonstrated how playing the notes would produce the melody of the National Anthem if you played them in the same pattern – rhythm – quick and slow notes – as how you would sing them.

Once I was sure that everyone was clear on how it all worked, I handed out instruments and beaters, allowing the children to choose whether they worked alone or in pairs. The air was filled with the sound of all the children practising independently, at their own speed. It was not a beautiful sound, but if you had been there, you would have seen 21 beaters (two at once on the xylophone) all tapping away, and an air of intense concentration. There was almost no talking, except for the soft mutterings of “EEF…..E….DC” or similar.

The TA and I circulated among the children. They were keen to show their progress, and we could help with tricky issues like which C they should start on, and why.

Every so often we paused, and gave the children an opportunity to share their progress, and to try the first couple of “levels” all together.

For a final “performance”, we all played together, as far as they had learned. I made it clear that the chldren were free to drop out once they were past the level that they were comfortable with. By the end of the lesson, just about everyone could do a recognisable version of the first three lines, and a fair number were able to get all the way through – very impressive!

I have left a set of chimes and the music wih the class teacher, so that the children can have another go during the wqeek, and hopefully we will be able to wow the rest of the school by accompanying the singing of the National Anthem at the Jubilee Celebration.

Musical Elements

Pulse; the music is in triple time – that is to say you count in threes; 1 2 3 1 2 3 God save our Gracious Queen with the emphasised (bold) beat always on the 1. In order to play together, everyone has to keep to the same speed – keep the pulse.

Rhythm; Some notes are longer than others; if you can sing the tune in your head as you play, you will get the correct rhythm. If you know about “dotted rhythms”, now is your chance to see them in action.

Melody; For the most part, the melody moves by step, from one note to the next note. There are a few places where it jumps over a note. Playing the melody on chimes bars makes this crystal clear

Repetition and Sequence; “Level” 6 is the same sequence of notes, but just one note lower, as “Level” 5

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