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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Using google slides for ONLINE activites


 

There are some things I totally LOVE about online learning.  I've been creating rhythm building activities in Google Slides for my students to learn how to build and count rhythms in 4/4 time.  These activities have been AWESOME for my students.  Today I used a rhythm building activity by sharing the file as a google cloud assignment in Canvas.  That automatically creates a copy for each student.  In class, I divided students into groups and had them work together to create/build rhythms and practice counting.  Why in groups?  Because I've been taking tech classes where I learned students do better with technology activities when they work in groups because it keeps everyone on task.  I found this to be totally true.  Everyone particpated and worked to help each other build and count.  And I feel this technology helped my students learn rhythm better and faster than any regular old worksheet.  ;)



Here's a link to the easy rhythm building activity: (this link will automatically have you create a copy in your own google drive so I can keep my original intact)

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1GYw4wJL8gTAksBPu80CmBp7vwwr0ZHVbHwNs-CnccBQ/copy?usp=sharing


This activity worked so well, I created another one with dotted quarters and single eighth notes: 

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1x0Cb-LPBctUpPAQOwA2hHu1cvur4-lFTnZRi-QjDRQs/copy?usp=sharing


And, I'm excited to help my students understand fingerboard geography better with this drag and drop activity.  You can have students do all the notes on the fingerboard, just naturals, or notes from scales.  So many possibilities!  

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RyVFJhYsufOUgG4zk0YUFw7rOl3NFkaLRKHMOmVGw4U/copy?usp=sharing



Friday, October 16, 2020

Theme Weeks for Orchestra Classes

 


Need an idea to liven things up in your orchestra class?  I've been having a lot of fun with weekly themes to get my students focusing on improving certains areas of their playing.  A few of my favorite are:  Rhythm Week, Intonation Week, Listening Week, Performance Week, Slow-Mo Week, Go Pro Week, Practice Week, Ear Training Week.

Here's a post which includes ideas for doing RHYTHM WEEK as a theme:

RHYTHM WEEK

Focus on mastering:  steady beat, the difference between beat and rhythm, clapping/plucking/air-bowing rhythms, figuring out rhythm by ear.

Ideas for daily activities:

  • Practicing a quick 'rhythm of the day' as part of warm-ups.

  • Rhythm clapping game:  teacher claps a rhythm, students echo.  To make it hard, the teacher begins clapping the next rhythm while students are still echoing the previous rhythm.
  • Around the World Rhythm Game - presentation where students take turns clapping rhythms on screen.  Use THIS LINK to access this free resource! 



  • Practice rhythms with party blowers or kazoos.  Or any rhythm instrument.
  • Practice making/sharing rhythms in class- students create rhythms and trade to play different rhythms.

  • Give students notes to a popular tune and let them figure out the rhythm.  I did this with Cheap Thrills and my students LOVED IT.  Many students practiced a TON to get this tune down.  It really helped my beginners progress quickly.  Get FREE Cheap Thrills resources HERE.
  • Have students practice playing notes to a steady beat to the tune of Andy Grammer's 'Keep Your Head Up.'  Resource HERE.


VIDEOS IDEAS TO USE in class for Rhythm Week:


Putting sounds together with cool rhythm - Among Us Rhythm:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5LS4kqJjKo





Voice Activated video game - timing is crucial for rhythm:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBNjz_2f6Pc&list=PLdKxs7i55u4G0yccywfuwwdc6UlEOSlUU&index=180



Monday, September 7, 2020

Announcing....OrchestraClassroom.com digital supplies available at JWPepper.com!

 

I've been selling digital resources for the last few years on my website at www.orchestraclassroom.com and my Teachers Pay Teachers site:  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Orchestra-Classroom   

Digital resouces are super cost effective because you get to keep the PDF file and copy the resource as many times as needed for your own group.  For example, I use the resource 'Be An Amazing Note-reader' every year for my beginners.  I get it printed at my district - a copy for every student.  For one very small fee of buying the PDF file, I get to copy and use the resource every year.  This is WAY cheaper than havig to buy books for students every year.  (Quick copyright note:  these resources should not be posted on a public website...post on canvas or google classroom all you want...just not publicly.)

Some teachers and school districts are not able to purchase my resources due to purchase order restrictions.  Now it is even easier and more convenient to buy materials because many of my products are now listed at JWPepper.com!  You can find me at this link:  https://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/search.jsp?keywords=angela+harman

JW Pepper doesn't have previews of the resources up, yet.  You can always preview materials at the TPT store...then purchase at JW Pepper.  If you see something at TPT that is not at Pepper, let me know and I can see if we can add it.  

I hope this will help more teachers access my resources and use them to help their students succeed...and save money in the process!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

FUN GAME for FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL in Orchestra

 

I just realized I can't do what I normally do on the first day of school!  Ack!  I usually have students play Kahoot without devices - they answer questions by running to a corner of my classroom before the time runs out (each corner has a symbol that corresponds to each answer choice).  Students normally love that activity and it gets them all moving and bonding with each other as they find similarities. 

What to do, what to do.  No more running around the classroom.  I decided to do this activity with my 8th and 9th graders to see how well their coordination skills stayed intact over the summer.  They can all participate from their seats.  I'm going to have the class try several times per hand sequence so they can see that practice really does help them improve.  I want them to feel that the hand sequence gets easier as they increase their reps.  

There are 2 music tracks in the slides, so when the slower one starts to get easier, students can try the faster one.  Perhaps the class can do a challenge by row to see how well they can keep it together.  If some students master it before all the others, I suggest changing it up for those students......right hand only, left hand only, both hands at once, backwards, once hand forwards with one hand backwards.


*You may view and use this resource HERE.  

*If you would like a copy to edit, use THIS LINK.  

*If the audio tracks don't work for you, there is really nothing I can do.  Audio tracks don't share well on google.  You will have to find and insert your own audio.  I got mine for free from www.bensound.com.  I just clipped the music shorter to use for this exercise.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Music to get back into playing after covid

 


It will be great to get back to class to teach and make music with  my students.  Those first notes should be interesting...I'm guessing many of my students have not played their instruments in months.  My son who started learning bass in my class last school year was asking me how to play F# the other day.  That tells me a lot of review will be needed!

Since my district is not allowing any concerts to happen for at least 1st term, I'm going to focus on reviewing notes/rhythms, intonation, and technique.  I feel like a great way to review and keep students engaged is to use popular music they know well.  

I think I can use the tune Cheap Thrills to teach many skills.  It's not in a friendly key for beginners, so I recommend purchasing the tune in itunes, and using the app called AnyTune (I LOVE THIS APP) to change the key.  All you do is push the the 'flat' icon 2 times to bring it down 2 half steps.  You can then download the AnyTune modified version to use as a back-up track for your students.  Also in AnyTune, you can slow down the speed...making it a great practice tool.


I made this music sheet for students to learn the tune:
 

Here's what I'm thinking students can work on in this piece:

1.  Beginners can learn the back-up part 1 to learn how to play G on the D string and keep all fingers down...and to lift just one finger to switch notes to F#.

2.  Students can learn back-up part 2 to explore and review G string notes.

3.  More advanced students can try the melody notes - listening/matching/playing the rhythm by ear.

4.  Students can practice pieces of the melody and focus on tuning/intonation because they know what it is supposed to sound like.

5.  Tuning C naturals on the A string (using last line ...la la la la la la la)


Cheap Thrills has been covered on YouTube by the Ember Trio.  I students students would enjoy working on the tune and watching this video:



Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Listening Test for Beginning String Orchestra Students

 

Intonation.  The life-long pursuit.  People make jokes about how bad beginner orchestras sound.  I am a firm believer in teaching about intonation/adjusting right from the start!  Many people who come to my concerts tell me they can't believe my students are beginners. 

Sometimes students come and practice in my classroom in the mornings while I am getting ready for the day.  It's hard to listen to students practice without chiming in with 'fix that note!  higher 2! etc.'  I believe students need to be taught how to listen.  It's a common problem to play out of tune simply because of a lack of awareness.  Students get so focused on notes, they forget to listen for how the music is supposed to sound.  

I just created a LISTENING TEST activity for students to listen to some common tunes to see if they can 1. recognize the tune, 2. decipher and decide what 'in tune' sounds like.   I believe this will help students practice the art of listening and help them remember to listen more intently as they play their instruments.



This resource is FREE to use!  Find it HERE

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Save time by posting assignments online: Be An Amazing Note Reader for Beginning Orchestra



I start teaching in person in just over a week.  I've been thinking about all the safety protocols and cleaning that will have to be done during each class.  That could take a lot of valuable rehearsal time!  I really want to do all I can to be efficient and keep students moving forward in the time we have.  That means, no more bell work.  I won't have time to pass out papers, collect papers, throw pencils at students who forget pencils, etc.  The majority of my assignments will be online in Canvas.  That way I can have students complete assignments at home, or work on assignments in class when working in small groups.  I think to survive in-person instruction, I will need to think and work as if I am doing online instruction.  Everything I do in class needs to be intentional and carefully selected to utilize the time wisely and effectively.  

I just spend a TON of time re-creating my 'Be An Amazing Note-Reader' worksheets to be usable online.  I'm happy with how they turned out and I won't miss making all those copies!  This book follows the format of the print version.  Beginning violin, viola, cello, and bass students complete 28 lessons to learn about notes, staff, clef, ledger lines, music alphabet, skips/steps, D string notes, A string notes, and G string notes. These google drive lessons were created in Google Slides and can be easily attached as assignments in Google Classroom, Canvas, or other LMS.  

You can buy this resource now at TPT:  HERE!








One thing I'm SUPER excited about in this resource is the flashcards/quiz links in Quizizz.  No more copying and cutting out flash cards!  Students can practice flashcards directly in Quizizz by following the links in my resource.  



There are other quiz programs online, but I chose Quizizz because my children told me all about the programs their teachers use and how they see students cheat on some of them.  My kids recommend Quizizz because they like it using it the most.  



Here's a link to a sample Quizizz for note reading - you can click on 'quiz' to try the quiz or 'flashcards' to practice.  If you want to save a little time, turn off the 'Memes' and 'Power-ups' so the questions will load faster.



Quizizz is super easy and fast.  I highly recommend it for online learning!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

No more traditional practice cards!


I am not a fan of practice cards.  PRACTICE CARDS = TORTURE.  I don't use them in my program because practice cards don't do much to motivate students.  I've even given a presentation at the NAfME National Convention about how to motivate students to practice without using practice cards.  Instead, I motivate students with videos and goals and track progress with playing tests.

Well now there's an even better way to motivate students to practice effectively, meet their goals, and develop into amazing musicians.  I was speaking to an orchestra teacher friend, Meagan Thorup, and she was telling me about this practice curriculum she developed that she uses with her high school orchestra.  I saw what she was doing and I got so excited....IT'S PURE GENIUS! 

Meagan has developed a full year of one-week long practice assignments.  These assignments are thought-provoking, goal focused, and they TEACH students how to practice effectively.  They motivate students by inviting them to reflect and focus on their progress.  These not not the typical practice cards...these are meaningful practice experiences that will truly shape students' lives. Meagan has received amazing feedback from her students about how these assignments have positively influenced their lives - in more ways than just music.  

When I saw what Meagan was doing in her class, I asked her to make it available for sale on TPT.  She finally agreed and put it up yesterday.  Believe me when I tell you it is WORTH EVERY PENNY!  Meagan gives an outline with her experienced recommendations on how to use the materials.  The 15 page outline contains links for 4 terms worth of practice experiences (8 week-long assignments for each term).  That's 32 lessons - ready for you to use and motivate/inspire your students to REALLY PRACTICE and make REAL PROGRESS!  

Here's how this resource is organized:

Term 1: Developing a Habit of Practicing - 8 lessons

Term 2: Deliberate Practice - 8 lessons

Term 3: Music Specific Practice Strategies - 8 lessons

Term 4: Year Review and Long-Term Planning - 8 lessons


Meagan puts these google doc lessons straight into Canvas and has students complete them in Canvas.  They can also be printed or used in Google Classroom.  

This practice resource will change you and your students forever.  BUY IT NOW!





Tuesday, July 28, 2020

FREE Online 'Notes on the Staff' Activity




I found this background for slide shows and I love it! I don't think it's really meant to be a music staff, but it's perfect. Different colors for each line of the staff to help students distinguish the lines.  This is FREE RESOURCE for your online adventures.  A drag and drop 'Note of the Staff' activity created in Google Slides.  Just make a copy of the file, and you can customize specific note names for students to practice.
 

JUST CLICK HERE!



Do I dare go paperless?



I don't enjoy making copies.  Many mornings, I rush into school as quickly as I can to get in line to make my copies for the day.  Thankfully, I have many of my materials printed for me at our district print center before school starts so I don't have to live in the copy room too much. 

Because of covid, all students at my school will be getting a Chromebook to use for all their classes.  We are meeting in person, but now students don't have to share chromebooks.  This opens up many new options for my teaching.  In the past, I didn't have my students do very much online because not all of my students had access to a device.  Now I can move many of my materials online! 

It's hard to choose how much to put online.  I decided to create a class website to start collecting content and resources.  I'd LOVE to move away from paper.  I get tired of copying, printing, finding missing worksheets, re-copying.  I want students to be able to access everything online.  Google Sites is really easy to use and I love that you can create as many pages and sub-pages as needed to organize content.  I have tons of work to do still, but I'm enjoying filling up my site.

Here are some screen shots of how it looks so far:

I am organizing content by the national standards:  Create, Perform, Respond, Connect.  I use the 'Classroom' tab for class info and business.




The home page introduces me to my students and below that tells about the school program with pics of program awards and accomplishments:



I'm excited about this tuning page.  Under these link are my favorite YouTube videos to help students learn how to tune themselves:




Sometimes I create materials and forget what I have!  Things get lost in all my files.  Google Sites lets me embed almost anything!  Pretty much anything you have in Google Drive will go in a Google Site.





I decided to go paperless on my disclosure document this year.  I turned my disclosure into a google slide show with a link at the end that leads to a form to collect parent info and a check-box 'signature.'  This is going to save me tons of time!  Plus I created assessments in google forms to quiz students on the information from the disclosure and put the link right in the website.


Here a link to a copy of my disclosure so you can see how it works in Slides:



Hurrah for less paper and saving trees!

Monday, July 20, 2020

PRACTICE with NO INSTRUMENTS!

5 Things students should practice with NO instruments!



Many teachers are contemplating how to teach a group of beginners with virtual or hybrid instruction.  In my district they are planning to have students come to the school for full time in person instruction, but I feel I need to be ready for if/when we all get sent home again.

I like seeing my beginners every day.  I feel I can ensure proper technique, keep them motivated, and ensure they are progressing.  Seeing them less often feels more risky, but kids who take private lessons only see their teachers once per week.  The rest of the time, they are on their own - practicing what has been assigned.  I think as we move to some online instruction, we need to take it slow, break everything down into even smaller chunks of mastery, and be very clear on exactly what/how to practice.

There is a lot to do to get beginners playing comfortably.  It takes a lot of time and skill.  I think students can prepare themselves to learn their instruments by practicing some skills AWAY from their instruments.  These skills work great for online learning and I believe will help students learn fingering and rhythm more effectively ON their instruments when the time comes.  

Here are some ideas for things students can practice AWAY from their instruments:

1. FINGER TAPS


I have students practice finger taps with me when in school to learn finger numbers.  I just created an online game in Google Slides for practicing finger taps.  It can be used in classroom, or virtually.  It seems easy at first, but it gets harder!  Students learn finger numbers, but also work on coordination and dexterity. 


To use the game, push 'present.'  At the very bottom of the present screen, you will see some controls. Click on the gear and go to 'auto-advance.'  Change the timing to every 3 or every 5 seconds...depending on how much time students need to do the exercise.  (see pic below).

The music should start automatically, but if it doesn't start, push the play button at the bottom left.  If you don't want the music background, just turn the volume down.  NOTE: The audio track is shared as part of the slide show in google slides, but some district block the sharing of that type of file.  If the audio does not work for you, just use the slides with your own background music - or insert your own audio track.


When sending to students, you should 'Publish to Web' first and send that link.  This link begins with the slide show instead of a 'slides' editor screen:


2. FINGER POPS/FLICKS

Finger pops and flicks are great for building finger strength.  Just tap each finger and thumb together to create a 'popping' sound.  The stronger the fingers, the louder the pop.  Student can also build strength by performing a flicking motion with each finger and thumb.  It's more fun to do this with background music!  Or you can create speed challenges.  For example, create a practice sequence of  8 finger pops on each finger, then 4 on each, then 2, then 1..and see how fast students can do it.  

3.  TIK TOK HAND CHALLENGE

I don't use TikTok, but many students do!  This is a trend that was going around TikTok  - a emoji hand challenge.  It gets extra tricky when you try 2 hands at once!  I think this exercise help students move to a beat and build dexterity...plus it's fun!  Student might enjoy as assignment where they practice this exercise...then create their own hand emoji pattern for other students to master.  You can find downloadable royalty free music to use for this at https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/6




4. TIK TOK HAND RHYTHM CHALLENGE

This is another popular activity on TikTok.  I think students would enjoy learning the hand rhythm, then create their own.  This would also be a fun way to introduce basic notation.  There are some great YouTube tutorials below!  This activity builds rhythmic skills, coordination, and memory.







5.  STRAW BOW HOLDS

Student can do a number of exercises with straws.  They can form a bow hold and balance pennies, or ping pong balls on top of the straw or on top of their right thumb knuckle.  See my post HERE with ideas!  I think it would be fun for students to create their own practice video using straws...where students are the 'fitness instructors' and teach a full workout for straw-bow exercises.  I could create one for my students...but they might like to do their own....and I just don't have time!  Students can then practice with each other's bow workouts.   

Not sure if I'd show this particular work-out video example to students...but I'll post it here for entertainment.  :)  Imagine this being done with straws and bow holds!



Beginners do better when they build basic skills BEFORE they start on their instruments.  Now is the perfect time to implement a gradual start and build coordination and dexterity in our students.

Friday, July 17, 2020

YouTube is an AMAZING educational tool


YouTube + PlayPosit = AWESOME EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE

I have been playing around with tech that I can implement in my classroom this year...especially with unknowns surrounding the pandemic.  Did you know you can use a YouTube video in an online platform called Playposit - where you can place questions in a video to make sure students are watching and learning the material?  It's pretty cool.  You just choose where you want the video to stop and make the question.  It can be multiple choice, fill in the blank, comment box, etc.  Students can't continue the video until the question is answered.  Playposit collects the data - so it can be worth points and go on a students grade.

I was watching a funny YouTube video with some funny babies and thought it would be a hilarious way to teach some orchestra rules.  I didn't make test questions, but used the comment feature to stop the video to let students know the rule that goes with each clip.  Not sure if I'll use it in my class or not...but I think there are many awesome possibilities with PlayPosit.  

Here's a link to my Playposit activity:

BABIES TEACH ORCHESTRA ADVICE: