It’s group lesson week again in my studio, and since it’s our last group lesson week before Christmas break, I’ve been incorporating Christmas tunes and themes into many of our activities. I used the following activity with groups of first-year students this week:
In previous groups, we had been learning to recognize simple melodic patterns (up, down, repeat) both aurally and visually. For this activity, I made signs with the melody of Jingle Bells – two measures per sign. I laminated each sign and then hung them on my studio Chrismas tree (I hadn’t had time to put up any ornaments, so this killed two birds with one stone and added a festive twist!).
Before students worked with the signs, I had them listen to each two-measure pattern and take turns inventing hand and body movements to represent the shape and direction of the melody. We practiced each pattern until we could put them together and act out the song.
Next, I directed the students over to the tree. I played a two-measure pattern and they responded with their learned movements. Then one student would be asked to pick the pattern sign that matched what he heard and acted (we took turns until all of the cards were picked).
To complete the activity, we hung the cards in order on the clothesline. The students followed the music visually as they acted and sang the song: simultaneously experiencing the patterns through aural, visual and kinesthetic means.