Archive for April, 2014

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2 Meter

April 4, 2014

I make two-meter conscious in the latter part of 2nd grade with my students. By that point, they have a very solid grasp of the steady beat, tempo, and have learned half note. Since Kindergarten, they have been tapping, moving to, and stepping the beat.  This type of kinesthetic activity is vital to truly understanding and internalizing the beat. Now I want them to understand that “not all beats are created equal.”  They are ready to “measure” the music and organize the beats!

There are many songs that can be used to focus on two-meter. This year I have primarily been using Rocky Mountain and Deedle Deedle Dumpling. Deedle Deedle Dumpling lends itself perfectly to the first step in my process: feeling the beat “differently” in each foot.

Deedle Deedle Dumpling

Because the song is so silly, the kids are eager to have one shoe off and one shoe on, just like the character John. In a circle, the students remove one shoe. While singing the song, we step to the beat, making sure we all start with the foot wearing the shoe. This creates clear sensory input that is easily discernible by all of the students. It just feels different to step with a clad or unclad foot. We identify that the beats feel different. I tell the children, “I have a music secret to share…not all beats are created equal!  Some are strong and some are weak!”

We tap strong and weak beats (strong= pat on lap, weak= touch shoulders). We try out a strong-weak pattern, then try a weak-strong pattern. The students identify that it “fits better” when we start with a strong beat.

Over the course of a few classes (this is Kodaly-based after all) we label beats on the board with “S” and “w” to denote which beats are strong/weak, and we add an accent over the strong beats. The students immediately notice that it looks like a less-than symbol from Math class. I like to tell them that it looks like an arrow that lost it’s stick. The arrow is pointing in front of the beat. It is showing us where to draw the bar line. We add in bar lines to “organize the music.”

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In pairs, the students use the dictation bags to set up 8 beats. We say “strong-weak” as we tap our hands across the beats. The pairs use yarn to create accents over the beats, then place popsicle stick bar lines in front of the strong beats.

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Now it is time for the kids to try this on their own! I bought these fabulous dry erase sleeves from Oriental Trading Company. They come in sets of 12 and are really easy to clean off. They are big enough to fit a 9×12 piece of construction paper, so the regular copy paper fits with no problem.  I guide the students through each step of labeling the beats, adding the accents, and placing the bar lines. We learn that we add two bar line (DOUBLE BAR LINE!) at the end. I call it a musical stop sign. We “measure” the music by counting how many beats are between the bar lines, and marked it at the beginning of the song. I have the student write the number 2 over a heart. I have seen other teachers use a 2 over a quarter note, or just use 2/4.

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I pulled these out again after Spring Break and asked the kids to draw in the bar line for 2 Meter all by themselves. It was a good way to see who got it and who didn’t.

One thing that I always do is teach the students how to conduct in the new meter we have learned. They love it! First we just conduct with out hands, then we add a baton. I found clear, colored plastic cocktail stirring sticks at the dollar store. Cheap and pretty strong, the kids think they are magical! We are just about ready for the students to be the leaders and conduct the class as we sing Rocky Mountain or Deedle Dumpling. They feel SO important when they are chosen!

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