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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Last minute April Fools Rehearsal plans


I haven't had to do many  'April Fools' rehearsals because this prank day often falls on Spring Break in my district.  This year is different.  April Fools Day falls on the last day of school before Spring Break begins...and it's on a Friday.  There is no chance I'll be doing a normal rehearsal.  

Last year for April Fools, I set up my orchestra backwards and taught my class in a special language I can speak called 'op' language.  It was hilarious....and I learned a ton of my teaching is non-verbal.  It was amazing how much my students were able to understand without really knowing the words I was speaking.

This year I've turned a popular game made by 'Exploding Kittens' called 'THROW THROW BURRITO EXTREME' into an orchestra rehearsal game.  I'll be using the huge inflatable burritos that come with the game, along with just a few of the cards.  Here's how I've morphed the game to be used in my class:

1. I'll divide the class into 2 teams...even instrumentation on both sides.  Each team will take turns choosing a card and both teams must compete the challenge on the card.  The team who completes the challenge the best will get a point.  (I'll be the judge - and since I'm doing this on April Fools, there are really no solid judging rules.) The team with the most points wins.

2.  Cards/Challenges:  (I'll be having students complete challenges using selections from our concert repertoire)
Floaty Goaty: Students must perform while balancing a goal on their heads. (I'm using small stuffed animal goats. You can have them balance anything - even a piece of paper.)
Barky Sharky: Students perform concert music with every note as a down bow - like a 'bark'
Licky Chicky: Students perform rhythms using party blowers.
Meow Cow: Students perform their music by singing 'meow' or 'moo'
Goth Sloth: Student must perform 1/2 speed.
Jelly Jelly: Students must try to stay together with very flowing/creative/uneven conducting
Logger Dogger: Both teams perform a section of music. The team with the fewest mistakes wins.
Burrito Duel: All students (both groups) perform a section of music.  The first group begins by playing one measure...the 2nd group plays the next measure...the first group plays the 3rd measure, etc.  The group who messes up first loses the duel.   (I'll be letting students (one from each team) throw the huge burritos at each other in the hallway at the end for a real burrito duel - this makes a funny bonus round)

This game is probably too crazy for some people out there... but my middle schoolers will love it and it's perfect for a Friday - before Spring Break - April Fools Day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Relief for common intonation ailments in beginning string orchestra


My beginners are learning to play in the key of G major and it can be a real struggle to get a good C natural with a high F sharp.  We are learning 'Fiddles on Fire' where there are a lot of C naturals and they have been out of tune!  I found some tiny fine-mist spray bottles at Hobby Lobby and quickly made labels to create 100% Genuine C# Repellent.  I also bought some silly string and didn't have time to make labels, but I told students the silly string was the 'heavy duty' version of intonation repellent.

Here's how it went in rehearsal....I told students I invented a new product that would cure their intonation struggles.  C# repellent - (just tap water!)  I tasked students with playing a few measures from Fiddles on Fire while making sure they played accurate C naturals in the passage.  I sprayed students who felt they needed the repellent.  My spray bottles had such a fine mist...I sprayed students if they wanted some on their left hand, or their face, or in their mouths if they wanted.  I also used it as a room mist and sprayed it around the room...just to be sure we were all clear of C sharps.  It helped students remember to watch for C naturals and listen to each other to match pitch.  My students immediately played so much better in tune!  I joked that I would have get out the 'heavy duty' intonation spray if things got really bad.  I used silly string for my heavy duty spray - and students WANTED to get sprayed.  I 'fixed' a few students and we laughed together and got back to work.  It was a fun way to keep students motivated and help clear up intonation issues in our music.