Literacy in the choral music classroom is demonstrated when students are able to read pitch notation, manipulate rhythmic symbols, and execute dynamic and technical markings in the written score. Students are simultaneously singing correct pitches, changing the pitch durations according to the rhythmic structure, carefully raising or lowering the volume, and increasing or decreasing tempo of the notes based on the technical instructions notated in the score.
Mrs. Clarke’s third grade students step to the drumbeat as they enter my classroom, joyfully singing the school song. They quickly notice various music notes separated by ‘+’ signs on the board; they know this game well. Hands shoot up. I tap a student, who jumps into action and writes the number ‘7’. “Let’s show our work,” I say. “A quarter note equals–“, “ONE!” the students exclaim. “A half note–“, “TWO!” We continue this call and response for the quarter rest and dotted half note (see image below). “And what do we get?!” “SEVEN!” Smiles abound.
“The Rocksteady day in our school was a wow. I had several parents say to me how inspired their children were.” - Monica Paines, headteacher at Long Ditton Infant School, Surrey
Every parent today will be able to recall their own music lessons at school. Invariably, these memories will either be coloured by the dull experience of having had reams of dry theory drummed into them, or else the sense that they were irrelevant to all but those with access to, and an aptitude for, such traditional instruments as violin, clarinet and cello.
Think tension. Think Music. Think a knife and a shower curtain. Think a rocking boat and glinting teeth...
When teaching my pupils about tension in narrative, I turn to film scores. We’ve all been there: a darkened cinema, the heavy breathing of a potential victim, the slow building music, an increase in heart rate. The scene reaches its climax and the victim is caught by the ghost/vampire/serial killer/rabbit. Now play the scene without the music. Does it have the same impact? Does your heart beat in quite the same way? Why does a building “duh duh…duh duh” have us sprinting for the shore?