The week following the Halloween festivities was the perfect opportunity to expose the upper grades to traditional American folk songs, folklore, and a discussion of the cultures originating in the Appalachian Mountains.
Some of America's greatest musical traditions come from the period in history when pioneers settled into the Appalachian Mountains giving up a further trip west. Settlers coming from European countries brought along their musical instruments and songs from their homelands and over generations the cultures we now associate with the Appalachian Mountains were created.
Grade 2 learned about play-parties of the early twentieth century and the popular songs "Shoo Fly" and "Skip to my Lou" that would have been favorites at these gatherings. They also viewed a short clip from the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis" where the characters throw a play-party and dance to "Skip to my Lou". Afterwards, each class learned a simplified version of the line dance accompanying the song.
Grade 3 also learned about play-party songs as well as the traditions of early settlers who would sing, dance, tell stories, and play games in the hours following their family dinner. The songs "Chicken on a Fence Post" and "Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees" were ones that gave these settlers opportunities to dance and laugh.
Grade 4 had a great discussion of the Appalachian Mountains and their rich cultures. As they are learning about the Revolutionary War in their homerooms, our discussion is a small preview of what's to come in their studies as the early settlers began moving west. After the December holiday, our songs will align with the fourth grade social studies' curriculum including favorites from the western expansion, the early railroads, and the Gold Rush. The song "Sourwood Mountain" gave students the opportunity to learn about fiddle songs from Appalachia. They also learned the song "The River" which is a more modern song with a folksy sound that was great for the vocal elements of tone painting, breath support, and phrasing.
The lower grades had fun with some traditional songs as well.
Kindergarten learned songs about going somewhere and discussed sequencing the story elements. The songs "Going on a Picnic" and "Going to the Zoo" were a special hit. They also learned another alphabet song called "ABC Blues" and experienced an easy blues-style melody. Following their songs, each class learned a circle-movement using the melody to "Seven Jumps".
First grade sang a new version of the classic camp song "Bingo" and learned the "Grizzly Bear" song and game. While each child had the opportunity to "sleep" like the bear and guess the other student who had woken them up, they were exposed to the effects of dynamics in music. The louder the music, the more likely we'd wake the bear.
Students in Grades 3 and 4 were told about the upcoming choir auditions. Those interested in auditioning took home informational letters and permission notes. Please visit the Sylvan Park Singers' page for more choir-related information.
The upcoming week will see a continuation of traditional and folk songs along with some reward time for those classes who had four successful music classes in a row.
- Mr. Burns