Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adventures with Activity Days: Part 2 of 2

This post is the second of a 2-part series describing ways to bring Primary music into a weekday Activity Days meeting. Read part 1 here, about memorizing the Articles of Faith.

Tracing conducting patterns
I love that Activity Days gives our girls the chance to learn how to conduct music.  If you think about it, women and girls in our church have a ton of opportunities to lead music, so it makes sense to help our girls learn this skill.  I've been invited into Activity Days a couple different times over the years to teach basic conducting patterns.  Here are four techniques I've used.

1.  Finding the Down Beat

This is a most over-looked skill. :)  Let's face it, the piano will keep playing, and the congregation will keep singing, even if you don't have a clue what a down beat is.  But we're talking about teaching these kids correct technique, right? So let's start them off right. 

I have the girls sit in a circle on the floor with me, and I ask them to listen to the flow of my singing and try to sway to match it. I try to emphasize the down beat slightly, and I sway and nod my head with the beat, too. Then I ask them if they can feel that there's a stronger beat that comes every so often.  I label it as the down beat, and then I sing a song with a different time signature, so they can identify the down beat there, too. 

2.  Tracing Conducting Patterns

Before class time, I drew the shape of the conducting patterns for 2, 3, and 4 beats onto separate sheets of white paper, making sure to have one set for each girl.  (If you have any left-handed students, make a mirror-image shape for them.)  I also taped the papers onto the wall or chalk board.  Now I let the girls choose a color of crayon. Directing them to start with the 2-beat pattern, I ask them to trace as I sing.  After singing for a minute, I pause singing to say rhythmically, "Down, up, down, up," at the same tempo as the song. Then, I switch back to the song, so they can match their movements to the beat. After they've got it, I have them switch colors, move to the next paper and pattern, and repeat.

Practicing with ribbon wands

3.  Practice with Ribbon Wands

Once the girls have learned the three basic patterns, I change things up to allow for extra practice.   I give each girl a ribbon wand and ask them to spread out through the room.  I ask for favorite Primary songs from the girls, but I also have a few songs in mind of my own, in case their songs don't cover all the time signatures we're learning.  Then we sing and conduct all together, using as many songs as we can until the hour is up.

4.  Provide Opportunities to Conduct Afterwards

Learning a new talent is always more fun if you have a chance to use it right away.  In addition, the Activity Days girls have a Faith in God requirement to teach or share a song with either their family or Primary.  So, after I teach them conducting music, I offer the girls a chance to lead a prelude song in Primary opening exercises.  If they are interested, I let them pick which Primary song they'd like, and I remind them before Sunday.  When they're conducting, I normally sit in the front row and conduct the pattern low in my lap, in case they need a little help.  

It's so rewarding to develop a new ability and be able to share it, both for the girls with their conducting, and for me with my teaching them. :)

Happy singing!

Looking for more?   Learn about the different icons I include, like this one,  , and how they correspond to different learning styles in my post here. Or, if you'd like another activity that includes basic music skills, try my post on using hand bells 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. Teaching the Activity Day girls today!