Issue 132: Rondo form – the easy way

I spent a hugely enjoyable 45 minutes with a year 5 and 6 class teaching rondo form. We usually do samba as our main activity, but this lesson had to take place in the class room as the hall was unavailable, so something a little quieter was needed.

We started by listening to “Fossils” from “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saens. We talked about the music, discussing timbre (the xylophone sounds like rattling bones, the nursery rhythms make a strong contrast, it is happy cheerful music – why? etc). for background information, instruments used and brief analysis of “Fossils” with Roger Moore reading the verse and good picture of the xylophone and other instruments

Listening again, I asked the children to put their hands up every time they heard the “bones” music, and put them down when it changed to something different. I wrote “bones” on the board every time their hands went up, and “new tune 1”, “new tune 2” etc when their hands went down.

Then I explained about rondo form; it’s where you have a sort of stacked up sandwich; the main theme, a contrast, the main theme, a different contrast (faster, slower, different instruments, different mood), the main theme, yet another contrast, etc, ending with the main theme. (Connection with samba; the band plays the main groove, interspersed with different breaks – rondo form!)

I quickly put up a rough graphic score of a simple rondo;

main theme-play C D E C D E C D E C on three chime bars; contrast 1-play a rhythm on a shaker; main theme; contrast 2-play a triangle very slowly; main theme again.

I chose a couple of children to perform my little rondo, to demonstrate how it was done. Then, I divided them into groups of three or four, issued them with pitched and unpitched percussion, pencils and paper, and set them to compose their own.

At the end of the lesson each group performed their rondo, and I was able to assess how well they had understood the task. Oh, and bonus points; the written graphic score could go in to their “learning logs” to be taken home at the end of term.

contrary motion divider

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