So how did week 1 go?
On the whole, I’m pleased. My decision to only use the shorter tubes until the children were used to playing them turned out to be a Very Good Idea Indeed. I also made certain that the lessons started calmly, by sending the rowdier classes back into the corridor to line up and come in again, “but quieter, this time, please”. They have a tendency to erupt into the classroom after an exciting 40 minutes of basketball or kick-boxing, which means that they are very likely to get Totally The Wrong Idea when handed plastic light-sabre look-alikes!
What did we do? After setting out the Ground Rules, each class (there were 3 classes each for year 4, 5 and 6) did a selection of the following activities;
WATCH AND COPY
The leader (that’s me, to begin with) plays fast, or slow, or a repeated rhythm, and everyone copies. The leader closes their eyes to HEAR how well everyone else is WATCHING. Once the class has got the hang of it, I choose other children to lead. I reckon about 4-6 goes is enough; after then it tend to go unfocussed. It is worth spending a couple of moments talking about how it went; did the leader think they were good at copying? What made it easier, harder, more or less challenging?
LISTEN AND COPY
Everyone should be totally familiar with this activity; I let children lead, allowing them 5 goes each. You need to make it clear whether you are playing “Don’t clap This-one-back” before you start to avoid ructions.
DIVIDING THE PULSE
If you set up a steady pulse/count of 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 etc, then everyone plays on 1 (semibreves), then 1 3 (minims), then 1 2 3 4 (crotchets) and then “double” on every count (quavers). Then divide into four groups, each playing a different pattern. There’s lots you can do, with bringing groups in, layering, starting and stopping. Or by everyone choosing their own pattern, and moving aound the space until they found others playing their pattern and formed groups. Then, when I called “switch”, they changed to a new pattern, and formed new groups.
JOSH’S BOOMWHACKER GAME
Josh started a chant of “Boomwhacker, Boomwhacker” which everyone in his class picked up on. So, after it had settled, I looked for ways to develop it. We tried playing the rhythm in turn round the circle, keeping the beat – that took a couple of goes to get going. Then, we tried different ways of making it more challenging; all the green players took a turn, followed by the purple, then the pink, then the red. harder than it sounds, as the colours were randomly distributed around the circle. The children began to notice how the different pitches suggested tunes.
This is really from the “pitch” section; at the moment I am concentrating on rhythm. But some of the children wanted to see how arranging the boomwhackers in colour (pitch) groups would work. So we changed places until we were in four pitch groups. Each group played “boomwhacker” four times in a pre-arranged order, and we decided which orders worked best.
I let the children sort themselves into groups of between 4-6 (which meant 2-7 in reality, of course!) to create a composition using rhythms, leaving enough time for the groups to perform to the class if they wanted to. It was interesting to see how the different groups developed their compositions, and also a good exercise in LISTENING without talking or playing their boomwhackers at the wrong time! I’ve picked up another idea from one of the groups which I shall post about separately.