Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I still love my job

We've been working on instrumental skillz and playing as an ensemble. It's been a little difficult because the tykes only had tambourines and bells to work with which are not terribly different sounding instruments. But today we had a breakthrough; today the drums had arrived!

These drums are great- they're about five inches across, come with two sticks each, have rubber feet so that you can leave them on the ground and still get a full sound, and have a surprisingly good tone for such a little drum. I was ruthless with the taking away of the instruments if they were played out of turn, which I think was a good move. I'd give them back when we went on to the next round of anything we were doing, but I would always take them away if they were played out of turn. This resulted in much better behaviour than I've ever managed to get before.

I hadn't totally expected it, but raising the stakes on things makes them pay, like, WAY more attention. We tiptoed quietly and STOMPED LOUDLY and stopped whenever the drum stopped. When I was starting the activity there was lots of colliding with other children and manic giggling. When I turned it into an elimination game where you were out if you didn't start with the drum and stop with the drum. The tiny tykes got deadly serious.

You know what is funny? Four year olds with looks of intense concentration, standing on one foot, and waiting for you to start again. I wish I could express this one girl's face: she's looking up at me because I'm so much taller and she looks like she could scale a mountain if the situation called for it- that determined and that fierce.

We also played the rhythm of our names on our drums. Some kids immediately got that they were to play the syllables of their names, others- not so much. But there were some super creative things they did too- like scratching the drum, saying their name and then hitting the drum in the beat afterwards, and turning the drum over and tapping it that way. I'm all about exploring the sound potential of the instruments so that was cool.

My favorite was a class where they all started stretching out their names with extra vowels so that a name like "Jane" would become "Jah-ah-ai-ne-uh." The best was when George got terribly upset because I laughed when he tried to tell me that his name really IS pronounced "Ge-eh-or-ge-eh." I'm sorry George, I didn't mean to laugh at you.

In other news I am a big fan of Teaching Foundation Music: a complete step-by-step scheme of work by Ann Bryant. I've thought this book was fabulous for a while now, but it only occurred to me today to check out her bio in the back- she's all kinds of Dalcroze trained. No wonder I think she's awesome.

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