Welcome to my little corner of the musical web. Here you will find child development appropriate and FUN music activities that you can use with your classroom or children. My friend Mindi and I volunteer one day a week to teach music to the kids at school since they don't have access to a music teacher. It is rewarding and fun, and it is here that I will be posting about what we do, what works, what doesn't, and other music teaching ideas. We are not trained musicians. We are moms who can sing a little, play the piano a little, but mostly we just love music as a hobby and see the benefits of giving children a musical education.


Teaching the Hand Jive

I like the Hand Jive.

For kids: It's all about that coordination and development. Doing the Hand Jive makes you cross your limbs over the center line of your body. This might not seem like a big deal at first glance, but the more you practice moving your body in space, the more aware you are of it, and the better coordinated you will be! This is activity is mostly a gross motor activity because of the large sweeping arm movements. There is a bit of fine motor activity, such as making sure your fingers are flat or your thumbs are sticking out while doing certain moves.

 Plus, it's like dancing, but we don't need to move our hands and feet at the same time! When I teach the Hand Jive, I like to use two different songs:

The first is "Willie and the Hand Jive" by Johnny Otis. I like this one because it's older and you can go slowly. Great for when you are starting out or teaching young ones.

The second is from the movie "Grease," "Born to Hand Jive" by Sha Na Na. I like this one because you can go slowly, or you can double time (go twice as fast) to the music.

Below is a video on how to do the Hand Jive. As we listen and go through the moves, I have found that saying "clap two, clap two, over two, over two, fists two, fists, two, thumb two, thumb two," helps until they get it.

Thanks to Kristin McNab for the video...you can find her on YouTube. (On my forever long to-do list: make my own videos for this blog.)


Down, Down Baby (Hand Clapping Games)

Our goal in music this Spring is to make our Spring Concert full of rhythm and fun. Christmas should be about the singing and the beautiful music, but Spring is a chance for some fun songs and "other" things.

We love doing hand clapping games. We've taught "Three Sailors" and "Miss Suzy Had a Turtle" with two very basic hand clapping patterns. We found "this version of "Down, Down Baby" to be easy enough for kindergarten age to have fun with, and we used it all the way up to 5th grade age.

To introduce our students to rhythm, we like using hand clapping games. They are developmentally appropriate. They rhyme. Most kids really like them!

Here is one we started out with that was easy to learn and easy to teach. It can be done with a minimum of two people, with no maximum limit. It was a hit.

Please visit http://funclapping.com/ for the words and more fun hand clapping games.


Beat Boxing FUN

Okay, so I saw this dude on a Walk Off the Earth video and he was beat boxing. Having grown up in the 1980's, the beat box was familiar to me. It can be FUN. What a cool way to experiment with rhythm and sound from your mouth, no tools necessary? Terry Im, also known as KRNFX, is featured in the video below. He has some short tutorials on the different sounds he makes. I showed this to my kids, who thought he was awesome in Walk Off the Earth's video "Trouble" and they immediately began experimenting with sounds from their mouths, working together to get a beat.

Keeping different parts of music going in a group is difficult for a lot of people, but it is essential as a budding musician because everyone has their part to play. A drummer cannot start playing with a guitarist, and the singer can't start humming the bass line.

Take a look at this, and beat boxing in general. Biz Markie has a small segment on Yo Gabba Gabba that you can look up on YouTube. Show the kids, and then work on your own beat!

If you are a sophisticated app user, there is an app called Loopy. Jimmy Fallon has used it on his show, and it lets you lay down tracks. Might be really fun to try! (I will try it this fall with my music class and let you know how it goes.) You can see Jimmy Fallon use Loopy with Billy Joel, and he beat boxes with Will Smith, too! (YouTube is your friend here.)


Your Brain and Music- A Video Demo!

Check out this VERY COOL video that shows what happens in a person's brain as they pick up an instrument and learn how to play. I love brain science, and this is fascinating.