Props in the music classroom
Thursday, December 13, 2018
As music teachers, we have the opportunity to buy some really fun items for our classroom!
Perhaps you've seen tennis balls or ribbons in another music teacher's room, and you've wondered how they incorporate those props into their music classroom. Here are my five favorite props for the music classroom:
1. Stretchy band
I first saw a stretchy band as a way to incorporate movement into an early childhood music class. There are truly so many possibilities for using the stretchy band.
My favorite way of using it so far is to help students learn how to stay in a circle during a circle dance. My second graders have performed "Seven Jumps," and the stretchy band is a great tool for practicing (as otherwise, with that dance, kids might lose their balance!).
2. Tennis balls
I was very fortunate to work with the Dalcroze professor, Tim Caldwell, during my undergrad at Central Michigan University, and he introduced me to using tennis balls in the music classroom. My favorite way to use them is to practice meter.
Students can each have a ball, and as you play music on the piano, they can bounce and catch. If you are playing in 2/4, they would bounce, catch, bounce, catch. If you are playing in 3/4, they would bounce, catch, tap a shoulder. And if you are playing in 4/4, they would bounce, catch, tap one shoulder, tap the other shoulder.
They can also bounce and catch with a partner, which is a bit more challenging, but super fun!
3. Playground ball
I first starting using a playground ball with Tim Caldwell as well, to have students pass the ball in a circle either without music or with music, at different tempi.
This is a more challenging task then just keeping the beat on their laps, and can teach them to internalize the beat!
4. Toy microphones
Truly, there is something about a toy microphone that kids just LOVE! These can be found at Target or the dollar stores and can be used when students are singing by themselves.
Even though the microphone doesn't actually amplify students' voices, they still love holding the microphone! You can also try an auditory feedback phone, which can be used with your students who are struggling to match pitch, as they can hear themselves sing when they put it to their ears!
A few years ago, I saw my friend Jayne Wenner present a session about folk dancing with props, and she presented a Chinese ribbon dance using ribbons like the ones found above. Jayne had us learn several different ribbon dancing moves and put that to music.
I just had my fifth graders choreograph their own dance by first learning all of the moves, then learning a dance I choreographed to the piece "Chinese New Year," then mixing up the moves in whatever order they decided to the same piece. They LOVED this and so did I!
I hope you have fun using these props in your music classroom. Happy teaching!
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