My students have begun preparations for our spring concert in mid-May. As a performer, I always like to have some sort of theme or cohesive element in a concert, and I approach planning my students’ concerts in the same way. Last year, I was very excited about our spring concert theme of “Music From Around the World.” Each grade performed music from a different continent–Africa for kindergarten, Asia for first grade, South and Central America for second grade, and Europe for third grade. The kids enjoyed singing songs in different languages and I enjoyed using some of my training in ethnomusicology to teach them about the music.
This year, I figured we should do some music from the one continent that was left out last year, so we’re working on “Music From Around the United States.” I was a little wary of this theme. It brings to mind images of children singing patriotic songs and waving tiny American flags in a cheesy and nostalgic way that I would prefer to avoid. However, this theme is becoming far more interesting and educational than I expected. Continue reading
I love introducing my students to music from different parts of the world. As kids, they don’t have the years and years of experience in one musical tradition to make music from other traditions sound “weird” or “unnatural” as is sometimes the first reaction that adults feel. Last year, our spring concert theme was “Music Around the World,” and each grade focused on a different continent, singing at least one song in a foreign language. I think it was easier for them to learn the songs than it was for me!
This year, I’ll have a different theme for the spring concert, but I still want to expose my students to different musical cultures, especially when our school does have several students who are not from the mainstream culture of that area. So we’re going on musical “field trips”! Over the last couple of weeks, first graders went to New Zealand!
The Okee Dokee Brothers, Justing Lansing and Joe Mailander, with their well-deserved Grammy.
It seems that all Minnesotans are celebrating the Grammy win of the local kids’ bluegrass duo, the Okee Dokee Brothers, but none more than my students. Ever since the Okee Dokee Brothers visited my school last spring and performed a concert, my students have been obsessed with their music. They beg to listen to “Bluegrass for Breakfast” every day. They regularly ask me when the band is coming back to the school. Any time they hear a banjo, someone will comment that it’s the instrument that Justin plays. So in honor of their victory, we held our own version of the Grammys in my classes. Continue reading