Saturday, July 11, 2015

Teaching Songwriting in Music Class



Hi Friends, It's Fermata Friday!
Songwriting is one of my favorite units to teach. My 5th and 6th graders really get into it. I like to kick off the unit with sharing some of my favorite activities with them and then have them share back. Since I love to road bike and try to get out doors as much as possible, it's fun for them to see me in a different way. Each summer I get the chance ride up in the mountains and learn what it means to really climb a hill. It's hard! But I have some tricks I use to keep my mind focused on the task at hand. I write songs as I pedal!  

So while I was riding up a steep hill, I made up a little song as I pushed those pedals. I do that often when I have something  menial or hard to do. I just begin putting rhyming sentences together and make up silly songs.
Here’s one to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. I was actually thinking of the version, “I Wish I Were a Little Bar of Soap”, because I was sweating up a storm as I pedaled slowly up the mountain.
Oh, I wish I was a little bar of soap, bar of soap
Oh, I wish I was a little bar of soap, bar of soap I'd go slidey, slidey, slidey over every-body's hidey
Oh, I wish I was a little bar of soap, bar of soap
Oh, I wish I was a little bar of soap, bar of soap.
Another great way to get students composing is to use a familiar game song. Sing, play and learn the music and then introduce the idea that they could change the words and create and compose their own song. Since children love to play games-this will be a big hit. I have found that smaller groups work better and give everyone a voice in the project.
You might try using a familiar song.
SONG: "This Old Man" for Ukulele, Guitar and Singing
Or, you could use a new song. 
I came up with these words:
Oh I wish I were a speedy road bike.
Oh I wish I were a speedy road bike.
I would ride where I would like—
And I’d never take a hike—
Oh I wish I were a speedy road bike.
Then I came up with the idea to create a lesson plan about songwriting around a picture from summer vacation. What a Great Way to get to know my students and also learn about them!

I really think my 5th and 6th graders would enjoy writing a song that was relevant to their own experience. Since I teach guitar, it’d be a great way to kick off learning a one finger chord and a one chord song. Then I came up with the idea to create a lesson plan on songwriting where students would bring in a picture from summer vacation and compose a short song.
I really think my 5th and 6th graders would enjoy writing a song that was relevant to their own experience. Since I teach guitar, it’d be a great way to kick off learning a one finger chord and a one chord song.
How about this one to the tune of Frere Jacques?
Mr. Mountain, Mr. Mountain,
You are tall, you are tall.
I’m climbing very slowly,
I’m climbing very slowly,
And I hope I don’t fall.
And I hope I don’t fall.
I know that students want to learn when they can relate to the material. This is a quick and easy way to get them motivated to learn to play the guitar. 
Here’s how I’d set it up:
1-Students bring in a picture from their summer vacation.
2-Students learn a one finger chord to a familiar song.  You might want to choose one song for the whole class in order to complete the assignment in 1 period.
3-Students write their own lyrics.
4-Students practice their song.
5-Students present their songs.
6-Students assess their own work and give feedback to the rest of the class.
7- Choose to rewrite or extend the activity.
If you don’t teach guitar, you could use xylophones, recorders (the class could play the song while the student sings their original lyrics)



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BACK TO SCHOOL "Apple Tree" ORFF-KODALY-SONG-ACTIVITY-LESS
And a really fun Rhythm Game "Get to Know Ya Rhythms" is an upper elementary rhythm game that is a great starting point for composition activities. 
BACK TO SCHOOL Grade 4-7 NAME RHYTHM GAME LESSON "Get to K

Use what you know and let your students go! 
LINK TO YOUR FREEBIE COMPOSITION ACTIVITY

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