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Keith's Corner: Entry 16: Music

In Keith’s sixteenth diary entry, it’s music week at Anglia School! The kids learn about classical instruments, work on their rhythm and counting, and make and play instruments of their own.

Action games

We started the week with a game to develop the children’s sense of rhythm with an emphasis on percussion. The game is known as ram tam tam. Everyone sits cross-legged in a circle and places their palm on their neighbour’s knee. You chant the name of the game together – ‘ram tam tam, ram tam tam, ram tam tam’. Then, one child says ‘ram’ as they slap their neighbour’s knee. That child then says ‘tam’ as they slap their neighbour’s knee, and so on.

This might sound easy but it certainly wasn’t at first. It was difficult to get it going rhythmically because the game requires motor coordination, in a very similar way to drumming.

And, speaking of drumming, we sang some of the Anglia School favourites, like Today is Monday and Ten Little Monkeys, accompanied by djembe drums (skin-covered drums that you play with your bare hands). 1–2–3–4! 1–2–3–4! It was a wonderful week for counting.

Reading music

As always, the books we read at story time were in tune with the weekly theme. One of our goals for the week was to get children acquainted with the main instrumental families and the way they sound.

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin was a wonderful way to start. Apart from seeing what the classical instruments look like and learning their names, our kids encountered, by way of Marjorie Priceman’s lovely illustrations, the magic of the orchestral stage.

Reviewing previous topics is an important part of the theme-based curriculum. The Philharmonic Gets Dressed was a fun read, giving our kids a glimpse into how an orchestra prepares, but it also had our kids thinking of articles of clothing and all the clothes games we played when learning about them.

And last, but most certainly not least, of the music-themed books was Genevieve Helsby and Karin Eklund’s My First Orchestra Book. This book is about Tormod the troll who has come from a mountain in Norway to discover music. It comes with a CD so children can hear examples of the music referred to throughout the story.

Arts and crafts  

The teachers at Anglia School put a strong emphasis on doing things with English, and anyone who’s ever worked with children will know that children just love doing practical activities. A CLIL approach makes perfect sense to us. During this past week, our kids got to draw their favourite musical instrument, decorated as intricately as they wanted and we made booklets, each about a member of one of the main musical families.

Making music

There was music in the air this week!

Our kids made toilet-roll shakers, filled with beans. We had lots of fun making music and counting in time with the music. They even got to take the shakers home.

One of our teachers proposed we make African rainsticks, so we did! The kids got very creative with the design of the sticks, and these made lovely additions to the growing collection of instruments we’ve got at Anglia School.

We also added rubber-band shoebox guitars, which made a very interesting sound as well.

By the end of the week, we had several different types of instruments ready and all that remained to do was play the Nutty Conductor. To play, the teacher must first demonstrate which actions should trigger the different instruments. So, for instance, an upward motion with the baton means that the maracas should start shaking, pointing the baton down is the signal for the shoebox guitars, etc. Everybody had a go at being the nutty conductor, and that concluded another fun-filled week at Anglia School.


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