Do you need some new ideas for introducing and reinforcing music class rules this year? I did, so my wonderful sister (a special ed. teacher) helped me create rules that can be paired with the major scale! Together, we spent a few days thinking of relevant rules that used positive language, and began with the same solfège sounds in Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Ti.
Here’s how I present the rules to my 2nd-6th graders. Sometimes each lesson will take more than one class period depending on the other activities I have planned.I present each rule in an 4-beat rhythm.
For example, Do is “Don’t forget to treat materials with care,” and Re is “Raise your hand and wait to be called on.”
- 1st Lesson: I speak and clap it, while they echo using hands, rhythm sticks, or body percussion.
- 2nd Lesson: We echo sing each rules by going up the scale and using hand signs.
- 3rd Lesson: Small groups practice playing the steady beat up and down the scale with xylophones as the class echo sings the rules. They hit each bar of the scale 8 times, 4 beats while I sing, and 4 beats while the class echoes.
- 4th Lesson: Students play the rhythms of the rules on xylophones.
- 5th Lesson: I break the students into 8 groups and give them a set of instruments (Boomwhackers, handbells, xylophones, and sometimes drums). Then, I hand them a sticky note with one of the rules on them. Their job is to play the rhythm of the rule they were assigned on their instruments. Don’t worry about pitches, just tell them to choose notes that sound good together and briefly explain consonance and dissonance. Some groups came up with creative ways to present their rules, and some students played their rules as an ostinato. Finally, after hearing the rhythm of their rule, the class has to guess which rule they had based on the rhythm!
- I use this as an assessment piece, and base it on if they are playing the beat instead of the rhythm, or if they blend the two. Most students are able to play their rhythms correctly, but many have problems connecting the number of syllables with the number of sounds their instrument should make.
- 6th Lesson: Small groups play their rhythms using the correct pitches of the scale. When we put it together, we can sing and play through all 8 pitches of the scale. Students also rotate to different rule stations.