Changing Tempo to Keep Children’s Attention

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      The Leaves on the Trees.mp3

One surefire way to keep a child’s attention during a song is to constantly change the tempo of that song.  Whether I am gradually speeding/slowing down or doing so abruptly, even the most easily distracted students will perk up and listen.  

Songs that abruptly change tempo are unpredicatable, and that element of surprise is what attracts my students’ ears.  Often I will make up such songs on the spot as the children are playing a rhythm instrument; not only do they have to listen carefully, but they also need to adjust the tempo at which they are playing to match my singing and playing.  

But my favorites are tunes made up of a single chorus that is sung gradually faster each time it is repeated.  The words and melody should both be simple so that the song can be easily memorized.  I’ve written several songs like this, but the most recent (and relevant to the season!) is called "The Leaves on the Trees".  

My students love, love, love this "speeding up" song, and no matter how fast I play, they always yell, "Faster!".  I give them shakers to play along, though any handheld rhythmic instrument would work nicely.  

Listen to "The Leaves on the Trees" in the audio player, below.
See my Listen & Learn: Fall collection
     and all of SongsForTeaching’s Songs About the Seasons.

Fall Into Fall

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      Fall Into Fall.mp3

Say goodbye to summer, because fall begins tomorrow!  There’s just something about the change in temperature, the beautiful colors, and the smell outside as fall approaches that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  The crisp air is refreshing, and everything seems brand new.  

When I set out to write a song about fall, I made a list of my favorite aspects of the season.  That list ended up being so long that I had to write two separate songs dedicated to it.  The first is called "Fall Into Fall" and I can’t wait to sing it with my students tomorrow!

How are you helping your students welcome fall?

Listen to "Fall Into Fall" in the audio player, below.
See my Listen & Learn: Fall collection
     and all of SongsForTeaching’s Songs About the Seasons.

Fridays: Celebrating the Week’s End in Song

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 I think most of us can agree that our students’ favorite day of the school week is Friday.  Fridays are particularly fun at my school, because most of our special events, assemblies and celebrations occur on Friday afternoons.  

This year we’ve decided to add one more reason to look forward to Fridays– an optional afternoon get-together dedicated to making music.  It will be held in the activity room at my school, and all classrooms are invited to attend.  The idea is to let the students choose the songs and musical activities; not only will they be having fun, but they will be exercising their leadership and decision-making skills.  

A half-hour "for fun" music class is a great way to end the week on a positive note (no pun intended!) and can easily be replicated in a single classroom.  By providing students with choices (either written or in picture form), they can decide either individually or by group voting which songs and activities will be included in the session.  

Here are the categories I am planning to offer:

  • Songs from current classes (an opportunity to reinforce those concepts!)
  • Student favorites from past months
  • Well-known songs to which everyone can sing along
  • Popular songs in mainstream music (only those with lyrics and subject matter appropriate for school, of course).

Most of my students use picture cards to make choices, since many are non-verbal, or aren’t able to read.  I absolutely love creating visual materials, so I can’t wait to get to work creating cards for all of those songs! (Now that I mention it, that’s another good idea for a student activity…)