NATIONAL CURRICULUM: LEVELS INTERPRETED AND IDEAS GIVEN
MAINTAIN OWN PART IN A GROUP, PERFORMING BY EAR and FROM SIMPLE NOTATIONS – For the children to successfully keep a steady pulse, play an accurate rhythm or sing a melody in tune as part of a group piece. They may need to follow a conductor to achieve this. Performing by ear involves playing from what you hear, remember or are improvising at the time. Children are also to read from simple rhythm notations and melodic notations C D E F G (note names) or D R M S L (solfa names).
SING IN TUNE WITH EXPRESSION – (same as level 3) The ability to achieve this will depend a lot on the amount of experience they have had of singing and how much practise in pitch-matching skills. It is good to ask children to sing solos – if they are willing – and to take notes etc and direct teaching accordingly. Some will still need help with singing 2 or 3 notes in tune while others will have naturally strong and in-tune singing voices with a wide range and a good tone. Good ways to test this are to ask the children to sing solos of songs they have learnt in class. It can often be surprising who is hiding a lovely singing voice and who, though confident, cannot yet sustain a melody. If they can’t, they can still learn through lots of games involving the practising of 2,3,4, and 5 note melodies.
PERFORM SIMPLE RHYTHMIC PARTS – Take a 4-phrase chant using rhythm ingredients the children are familiar with . Divide the class into 4 groups and give each a line to clap simultaneously. Build and reduce the layers of sound. In this way every child is performing a rhythmic part. An ostinato is another successful way of achieving this objective. While one group claps the rhythm of a chant another claps a separate chosen rhythm repeatedly throughout. Alternatively the children can write and perform their own rhythm patterns, using voices, clapping or instruments.
PERFORM SIMPLE MELODIC PARTS – as above but with melodies. Take a song based on the pentatonic scale (so all the notes sound good when played together). Give each group a line to sing, building and reducing the layers of sound or take a melodic ostinato for a group to perform while the melody is sung. Alternatively the children can write and perform their own rhythmic and melodic patterns, using voices or tuned instruments.
IMPROVISE RHYTHMIC AND MELODIC PHRASES AS PART OF A GROUP PERFORMANCE– There are many good games to develop this skill. The simplest rhythm one is for the class to chant ‘1,2,3,4’ in time to a pulse, followed by a child playing a 4-beat improvised pattern, followed by the class chanting ‘1,2,3,4’ again. This continues round the room. The idea is for the children to improvise in turn while keeping a steady pulse throughout the whole piece. This can be developed to 8-beat phrases. Exactly the same game can be played with melodies using notes from the pentatonic scale. In order to be able to improvise in groups children need to be able to keep in time with a steady pulse and listen clearly to each other.
COMPOSE WITHIN MUSICAL STRUCTURES – Give the children a remit – Eg. Write a 4-beat rhythm pattern. That is already a composition. They can then be asked to write 4 rhythm patterns, add a melody from a choice of notes and even add words. In this way they are starting to write their own songs within a clear musical structure. Another idea is to each write their own 4 or 8-beat pattern and work in groups to perform them, building and reducing the layers of sound. On a more Creative Curriculum basis, the structure may be to compose a piece of music based on a particular subject and to include voices only for example.
DESCRIBE, COMPARE AND EVALUATE DIFFERENT MUSIC USING APPROPRIATE MUSICAL VOCABULARY– Look at the specific musical elements within a piece. See GLOSSARY (if using Active Music) It is important to clarify exactly what you are looking for.