For those of you still in the classroom: this one is for you.
This time of year, I never know what will grab my students attention. I'll show up with 4 or 5 backup activities in my back pocket, just in case my main lesson plan goes out the window during the first 60 seconds.
Below are a handful of emergency, last ditch activities that focus on student composition. But first, here is the basic composition outline I use in class:
GOAL: Students compose a 30 second piece of music in small groups.
- Teacher gives students some parameters to focus their work (more on that below).
- Students spend some time composing
- Students perform for the class
I consider Junkyard Percussion to include any item which you can't buy in a music store. So if you want to use buckets this week, great. But maybe your patience is thin, or you just don't want to deal with possibly loud volume in the final weeks of the school year.
Instead, why not find some super non-traditional items to make music with and then use the Basic Outline found above?
- Sticks-only Music: Volume an issue? No problem, just give the students sticks. Let them click the sticks, hit the floor, and click a partner's sticks. You could get them warmed up by doing this activity first, using only sticks. Any sort of stick will do here.
- Newspaper Groove: Hear me out on this one...Dump a pile of newspapers in the center of the room and give each group 5 minutes to come up with a short piece of music for newspaper. They can rip, tear, or crumple their papers. Set a couple guidelines, maybe: "must be 30 seconds long, must use at least 5 different sounds, everybody in the group must participate." etc. Here is Stomp doing something a newspaper related groove (and yes, I know I downplayed showing Stomp in the post: "5 Mistakes Teachers Make When Teaching Bucket Drumming," but this is the perfect time to show it: when you need to jump-start student creativity).
- Bucket Movement: Teach them this basic movement groove and then have students compose their own using buckets.
- Pen Beats: Yes, you heard me right: Bic Pens. My students brought this idea to me last year because they were simply transfixed by playing grooves with pens. Don't believe me? Check this guy out:
Why will any of this work during the final months?
A little novelty goes a long way. Also students don’t have to focus too hard on the teacher and the teacher doesn't have to enforce specific pitches or rhythms to an unruly mob.
A final tip: Don't feel compelled to explain too much to the students; simply pose the challenge and give them time to work on it. In fact, the less you dictate, the more creative your students will be. But of course, keep things sane by walking around and making sure everybody is on task and in one piece.
Share your final days activities in the comment section below!
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