1. Ask students to listen to a rhythm pattern on your drum. Tell them that you're going to play the same rhythm at the beginning, but eventually you're going to sneak in a "mystery pattern", and they must listen carefully to hear it.
2. Ask them to raise their hands when they hear the mystery pattern.
Tip: Ask students to close their eyes during this activity, otherwise, some will follow their peers rather than listen for themselves.
3. Once students have successfully identified the mystery pattern, ask them if it was the same or different than the original rhythm (ideally, they will say different).
4. Lead them in a discussion about same and different parts in music.
5. Continue the mystery pattern activity using the new vocabulary "same" and "different".
Now that your students are armed with their new vocabulary (same and different parts) and have successfully identified those parts by listening, it's time to add movement.
1. Begin the "same and different" (mystery pattern) activity as before, but this time ask students to create movements for the same and different parts they hear.
Tip: Students can use body percussion, scarves, or rhythm instruments to show what they hear. This is also a good way to get in a little extra steady beat practice!
2. Introduce pre-selected music with an obvious delineation of same and different parts. The idea here is start with a piece of music in which you know they'll successfully identify the form (a no-brainer if you will). Then, begin to challenge them with music that is more complex and that offers a wider range of timbre, pitches, and rhythms. Here's a short list of songs and pieces you can try:
- Shortnin' Bread
- Buffalo Gals
- Hoedown from Rodeo (Copland)
- Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525: Rondo, Allegro
- Fireworks Music: Menuet II
Tip: use songs that the students already know, as well as songs you plan to teach the following year. Classical music is also a great choice for introducing and teaching form.
3. Continue practicing identification of same and different parts through body movement, allowing students to have more choices (such as small group work or choosing their own rhythm instrument) as they continue to correctly identify the same and different parts.
Now it's time to start labeling those parts and identifying the form. Kindergarten students grasp call and echo songs with ease, while second graders can begin to label form as AB, ABA, and so on.
1. Once you label the form, it's important to show how the parts work together to form a whole.
Tip: Food is a great analogy. I used a sandwich as a visual along with my Daydream Education software. My friend Angie created the Musical Deli, which is an awesome free resource for teaching musical form.
2. Discuss the components of a toasted cheese (or grilled cheese) sandwich. Ask your students what would happen if you took away the cheese; what would be left? This discussion starter will help students to understand that the parts of the sandwich work together to create the tasty sandwich they love (or I love at least).
I've focused on the introduction of form in this blog post, but you can use these same basic steps with any elementary grade level; hear it, feel it, see it.
Please share some of your own tips in the comments section. What analogy do you use when teaching form? Which aspect of form is the most difficult to teach? Which is the easiest?
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Don't forget to add your idea for my next blog post HERE.