The daily musings of a substitute teacher in East Central Illinois.

Make a Joyful Noise!

Today I was a grade school music teacher at Carrie Busey Elementary School. I have subbed for this teacher in the past, and her classes are always a lot of fun, and always very well-behaved. There is something fun about helping young people learn how to make a joyful noise through the power of music. It is also quite inspiring to see them figure out rhythms on their own.

Of course, as a substitute, I don’t really teach music the way their music teacher. She never knows in advance who will be teaching for her, and what his or her qualifications are, so the plans for the day usually involve reading stories about music or watching music-themed videos. However, there is still quite a bit of teaching that can be done while watching movies, provided, of course, the movies are well-planned.

With my 5th and 4th grade classes, we watched “Stomp Out Loud”, which features some of the greatest hits of Stomp, an amazing percussion ensemble. My 1st grade and kindergarten classes watching a puppet show featuring the “Carnival of Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens. Both were excellent videos showing the use of music, and fit in quite well with what the classes have been studying in their music class.

My favourite part of the day, though, was the move I showed to the 3rd and 2nd graders. We watched “Animusic”–an amazing audiovisual experience. For those who are not familiar, I recommend this sample:

I love the combination of sound and video animation that this group has created. And, in terms of teaching, it was so awesome watching the students identifying all of the intricate parts of the music and seeing how it all fit together. They have been learning about rhythms, so they were all trying their best to beat the rhythm as the video played. It was pretty great. It was also great that, being familiar with all of these videos, I was able to know what to watch for and what to point out.

Today was definitely a great day as a substitute. I worked with many different students, had to enter a realm that I am not totally comfortable (I typically teach in the traditional classroom, so subbing for a “specials” teacher is always a new experience), and I was able to have a great time. Definitely a great end to the week!

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