On Friday, August 21st I went to an in-service for all the general music teachers in the Tempe Elementary District No. 3. This in-service was located at Rover Elementary School, and my mentor teacher, Erik Whitehill, was the teacher leading the event. Erik focused on the use of movement in the classroom and presented us with various different activities to teach movement.
Erik started with general ideas of philosophy, concepts, and standards. He spoke about the new Arizona Arts Standards and how movement can apply to these standards. He explained that students are performing when they are doing the movements for the lesson, and we can also have them lead in activities, and when they are leading they are creating and improvising. These ideas cover overarching strands of our standards. He also presented the Orff “Movement Words” that he has posted in his room and that he uses on a daily basis in his classroom. He talked about how he uses these in his classes, and gave the teachers there a few different ideas of how to use them. The main way Erik uses these words in his classroom is as a warm up that focuses the kids on music and movement as they walk in the room. He has them pick a word from the area of the room where the nonlocomotor words are posted, and picks three students to lead the activity in their interpretations of these movements. This activity is exactly the kind of lesson that Erik was referring to covering several different strands of our new standards.
He then moved on to present activities including music and movement focused toward the primary grades. The first activity was called “Chicken and a Chicken”. To start with this activity the students learn the song, then following this, the teacher would choose students to come up and interpret actions and movements to go along with the words of the song. This gets the students singing, listening, and interpreting the song. They have to process the song at a deeper level in order to correlate motions with the lyrics. The next activity he presented was called “Travel Spots”. For this activity the teacher must set up 2 or more color spot markers and put on several different types of music. The students then are to move along a path from spot to spot and have to move between them in a way other than walking. This gets them to think about how to move in more abstract and creative ways. They also must listen to the music in order to adapt how to move so that their movements reflect the music. The final activity he presented for this age group was “The Magic Forrest”. This activity was rather involved and incorporated a lot of wonderful musical and movement skills to teach the students. For this activity the teacher tells the story of the “Magic Forest”. Throughout the story there are various cues for the students to sing one of the two songs incorporated in the story or to act out movements that portray animals that are part of the story. The two songs are contrasting. One is in major and has a sort of upbeat gospel feel to it while the other is in a minor key and has a much slower tempo. This gives the students a great experience of performing contrasting music. The movements throughout this activity encourage creativity in the students, and result in them creating and improvising.
After presenting these ideas for lessons for the younger grades he then presented a variety of movement lessons that would be directed toward the upper grades. The first activity he presented was called “Mutton Stew”. In this one the students learn the song “Mutton Stew”, and then learn movements to go along with the song. He has them relate the movements to the words that they land on to help correlate where the movements are and to help them better internalize the song by participating in it kinesthetically. After this he then adds instruments to the song and does a creates a form that incorporates the instruments, the movements, and the singing, both together and in cannon. The next one that Erik presented was “Chicken on A Fence Post”. This one is a very high-energy game that the children love! First Erik had us learn the song for the activity. Following this he put a rubber chicken in the middle of the room on a stool and we formed two circles around the stool, one smaller one inside of the larger outer one. The activity then turned into a game with two people outside of the circle who had to race to catch the chicken once the designated people in circles raised their arms to make gates for them to pass through. There are many ways of further complicating this, which makes it increasingly more challenging and fun. We ended with the two circles rotating in opposite directions and the people racing to get the chicken have to run through the moving “gates”. This activity helps the children to gain a better understanding of their sense of place and of their surroundings. They have to be aware of these ideas in order to succeed at this game. The next one that Erik presented was an activity he called “Triangle Shadows”. This activity had to do with following the movements of a peer and creating movements that coincide with the music. For this activity the students have to be in a triangle and they should all be facing the same direction toward one point of the triangle. The person at that point is the leader of the movements that everyone else must follow. Throughout the activity the teacher facilitates when the students turn to face a different point, making it so there is a new leader at a different point. It is a great creating, interpreting, watching, and following activity. The final activity that Erik showed us at this in-service was one of my favorite. He called it the “Four Part Movement Cannon”. He had us start by listening to a recording of a song and moving to the music in our own way that to us related to that music. He then added different elements to this by having us do our own movements for eight beats, then freeze for eight beats, then “melt” for eight beats where we shrink to the ground, and then grow for eight beats where we grow back to the position we froze in, and then we repeat this process. It was a very beautiful way of doing the movements, and then to add to it even more Erik had us do the movements in cannon with four groups all on different parts of the process. It was really amazing to have on group melting as another grows and another is moving about the room between the frozen people. It was a very interpretive and creative activity.
Overall throughout the in-service I learned about the importance of incorporating movement into a music classroom. It helps the students internalize the music and relate the music to themselves in a kinesthetic way. I also learned several different lesson I can use with students to incorporate movement in their education. All of these lessons included clear and detailed objectives and state standards, which is a great resource as a future music teacher. I also found it incredibly helpful to see the lessons being taught and to actively participate in them. That helped me to better internalize what was being said and how to present these lessons. It was an incredibly helpful workshop that I feel I learned a great deal from.