Banjo and Guzheng: Teacher Notes
I came across this video of musicians Abigail Washburn & Wu Fei and just knew that I wanted to share it with students. Here's a description of the duo from Wu Fei's website:
It is not often that a string duo bends space and time, and yet here are Fei and Washburn presenting the first and only guzheng and banjo duet. The dulcet sounds of Fei’s ancient Chinese 21-string zither rings harmoniously with Washburn’s virtuosic clawhammer picking. It is as if these self-professed musical soulmates started digging on opposite sides of the globe only to find their cultural roots inextricably intertwined. Beijing-born Fei is a classically trained, multilingual composer whose wide range of commissions include works for symphonies, film, and modern dance, and Washburn is a Grammy-winning performer (Béla Fleck duo) who is fluent in Mandarin.
What I share with kids:
Today I'm excited to share about two very different instruments: the banjo and the guzheng.
Each of these instruments has been around for a long time and has a place in folk music from their specific regsions. The banjo shows up in North American music genres like country, folk, blues, jazz, and sometimes rock. The guzheng features in Asian folk, traditional, pop, and rock music.
In the video below you'll see two artists, Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn, put the guzheng and banjo together and blend the styles of both into one exciting song! You'll hear them play their instruments and then sing in both English and Chinese. Watch below to see!
Wu Fei and Abigail Washburn may seem like an unlikely pairing. Wu is a Beijing-born classically trained composer and master player of an ancient Chinese zither called the guzheng, while Washburn is a singer and banjo player from Illinois. (Both live in Nashville.) But Wu and Washburn have both has focused significant parts of their career on studying and expanding on folk music across the world. In many ways, the women’s musical works are far more alike than they are different.
Star Guitar Listening Map: Teacher Notes
Star Guitar is a really fun video for younger or older students alike and is an awesome way for your students to see a visual representation of what they’re hearing. The idea of the video is that you are in a fast moving train looking at the terrain as it quickly passes you by. As you watch this video you can tell that what’s happening on the screen matches everything that’s happening in the music.
When the music slows, the train slows; when certain sounds repeat, certain objects show up over and over on the screen; when sounds ebb and flow the picture might go from night to day or might show the cross section of a hill. It’s a really creative and interesting process to show the progression of sound in a visual way.
There are times when I’ll notice something in the song because I see a recurring pattern of objects and sometimes vice versa. Most of all, it gets your kids thinking and is a great hook and segue into a lesson on listening maps. Doubtless they’ll want to see it twice and honestly, that’s not a bad idea. They’ll see so much more the second time around that they wouldn’t have noticed the first time. I know I did!
What I share with kids:
Sometimes musicians create music videos to tell a story. Sometimes they do it just to have a bit of fun. Sometimes they create music videos to make a visual representation of the music. That means they make a video where the images on the screen match the beat, or dynamics, or feel of the song.
In this video, the images on the screen match the patterns in the music. Watch closely and you'll be able to see how the images match the major beats. When we get to a new section of the music things on the screen will change or we'll end up in a new place.
Once you've watched the video once or twice, use the space below to describe how you saw the video match the sounds you heard. Did the picture match a rhythm? Did it match the dynamics/volume of the music? Did the video help show the form of the song? Tell me below!
Cup Routine: Teacher Notes
I love this video series because it can involve kids. They don't just sit and sing or sit and watch. They can actually get a cup and try this out with the people on the video. AND THEN they can watch a crazy cool version of it.
What I share with kids:
Have you ever wanted to do the "cup game" or "cup routine"? Well, check out this fun tutorial video to see how you can do the cup game at home! Get a plastic cup and you can learn along with the people in the video. Remember that when they say "right" or "left" they're talking about their own right or left. I might look backwards to you, but follow what they SAY when they use the terms right and left.
Did you figure out that cup routine and want MORE! Check out this more advanced version of the cup game and see if you can do it with the people on the video. Remember that they might say left or right and it might look backwards. Just do what they say when they say right or left.
There are so many other ways to do the cups game. For now, keep practicing the routines above and see how good you get and how fast you can go.
For a little inspiration, watch a ton of different versions of the cup game in the video below. Leave me a comment to tell me how it's going and if you are a cup master yet!
Austrian Went Yodeling: Teacher Notes
My third graders learned this song over the course of the last few weeks in class. We sang through the song, learned some body percussion actions, tackled critical thinking questions related to the featured vocabulary, and lots more. If you want to see my lesson process for teaching this song you can watch a video about the process here. What I'm including in my digital learning lesson below are the extension activities that I would have included in class if we had the time.
What I share with kids:
Remember the song we learned called "An Austrian Went Yodeling," about the young man who walks out in the Alps and sings his song? Here's a slightly different version of the song that we learned in class. Can you spot all the ways that this video is similar and different from the version we learned?
What is Yodeling?
Most experts agree that yodeling was used in the Central Alps by herders calling their flocks of cows or sheep or to communicate between Alpine villages (villages in the Alps). The multi-pitched "yelling" later became part of the region's traditions and musical expression.
Here's a video of a famous yodeler Franz "Franzl" Lang known as the Yodel King. Franz was an alpine yodeler from Bavaria, Germany.
Walmart Yodeling Kid
Yodeling has changed and evolved over the years. Often you'll find country singers "yodeling" in their songs. This little boy, Mason Ramsey, was video taped in a Walmart doing his version of a famous song by the famous singer Patsy Cline.
Yodeling boy performs on Ellen
Ellen saw Mason's performance in Walmart and decided to bring him to her show. Here's a video of him singing and talking with Ellen about how he got into yodeling. Would you be nervous performing for an audience like that?
After appearing on the Ellen show Mason Ramsey was asked to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Wow! What an honor!
I don't think that Mason ever guessed that Ellen would see his video or that he'd get so famous so fast. It took a lot of courage for Mason to go out and sing in Walmart in front of all those people and EVEN MORE to perform for Ellen or at the Grand Ole Opry. But what he did wasn't anything crazy. He just sang the songs that he loved.
Can you think of a song or two that you know that you could sing for your family? As practice, trying singing in a mirror, singing for your stuffed animals or toys, singing outside, or singing for your dog. Then when your'e ready, share a song with your family! Are there any songs from our music class that you could sing for your family? Leave a sentence or two below with a song you could sing.