Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Tykes Get Emotional


Whew. Glad that's out of the way. (Sometimes the excitement just gets to me, you know?)

The tykes are having some trouble with...friendship. And pushing. And apologising. One of the reception classes has been having some physical altercations. (I love that word: altercations. It just rolls of the tongue so nicely.)

On Tuesday during my planning time (I love planning time! And have decided that it is imperative that I be there for lunch on planning day since that allows me to get a much clearer picture of how the department is doing and also allows me to have many mini-meetings with teachers. Handy.) I was asked if it would be possible to work in some emotional/friendship coaching into my lesson plan.

I haven't told you about this yet, but last Thursday I was at a teacher training day called 'Making Music Matter' at Wigmore Hall. It was fabulous. We learned all sorts of great things and were sent off to try some of the new ideas out in order to report back on them next week when we meet again. One of my activities that I wanted to try was conducting a song via facial expression pictures. Like: can we sing this song Happily? Sadly? Angrily? etc.

Synchronicity. I tried it out today, thereby fulfilling all sorts of requests.

In class I brought back the penguin bouncing song and sang it according to the emotions on the pictures. (I'm so DONE with the penguin bouncing song. But! Activity Extension! Number 6. in my list of things I want to learn: how to have a bunch of educational extension ideas for any activity I use in class)

In order to facilitate this I overacted the crap out it: weeping during sad, hiding behind the penguin during scared, huffing and slamming the penguin into my lap during angry. They tykes ate it up with a spoon. And isn't it cool that we were able to provide a space to practice those emotions? We're not really angry- but here is a safe place to try it out.

Some thoughts: 1. I really should have figured out how to draw more than one positive face. As it was 75% of our choices were negative. 2. Pulling those faces gave my eyebrows and forehead a workout. 3. It is actually incredibly emotionally draining to pretend, loudly, to be angry/sad/scared all day if you are not. I don't know how actors do it.

Some further thoughts: Okay. So in conducting class at Peabody we learned a little bit about Laban movement analysis ( Totally stealing from wikipedia here:

"The difference between punching someone in anger and reaching for a glass is slight in terms of body organization - both rely on extension of the arm. The attention to the strength of the movement, the control of the movement and the timing of the movement are very different.

Effort has four subcategories, each of which has two opposite polarities.
Space: Direct / Indirect
Weight: Strong / Light
Time: Sudden / Sustained
Flow: Bound / Free "

I don't know if this makes a whole lot of sense- in person I could show you easily. The point is that there are certain categories and there are opposites within those categories and you can combine them in different ways to create/classify any type of movement. For example a "flick" is indirect/light/sudden/free; a "push" is direct/strong/sustained/bound

When I was singing Bounce the Penguin with different emotions over the course of the six classes that I have, this is what I realized:

Here are my categories
attack: legato/staccato (long and sustained/short and punchy)
volume: loud/quiet

Here is how my emotions fit into those categories
Happy: loud/legato
Angry: loud/staccato
Sad: quiet/legato
Scared: quiet/staccato

They don't fit perfectly into this setting-- like Happy wasn't legato per se, but it was more connected than Angry was; and scared wasn't staccato exactly, but close enough.

I feel all clever for pulling those concepts together in my mind.

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