Song for the Weekend – When Cows Get Up in the Morning

oldmacdonaldI’ve had a broad topic of animals running since the beginning of the year and the last week or so I’ve focused on typical farm animals – pigs, chickens, horses, sheep and, of course, cows.  Most children know and love Old MacDonald but if you’d like an alternative you could try When Cows Get up in the Morning.  This is a traditional song sung with a variety of melodies.  To be honest, I’m not sure which is the ‘proper’ tune as there are so many variations so I’m posting my version which sits comfortably within a limited vocal range between B below middle C and G a sixth above.

When Cows Get Up in the Morning

When Cows Get Up in the Morning
When cows get up in the morning
They say “Good day, good day”
When cows get up in the morning
They say “Good day, good day”
They say “Moo! Moo! Moo!”
And that is what they say “Moo! Moo! Moo!”
That’s how they say good day.

When Cows Get Up in the Morning pdf file

As well as using the song for animals and the sounds they make (not just restricted to farm animals in my sessions – we’ve also sung about crocodiles, lions, bees and snails!), I also use it for playing instruments. When I get up in the morning I like to tap my drum… or I like to tap my claves… or I like to shake my bells… or I like to play so softly, or loudly, or quickly, or slowly. So many possibilities!  What actions can your pre-schoolers think of?

Source:
Words: traditional.
Tune: Rowena Howey (c) 2011.

A Song for Hoops

I like to have children using large motor movements when exploring pitch and so I wrote a song called “Merry-Go-Round” which I use with hoops.  You can also use this tune with the parachute or a scrunchie if you’re looking at group activities or use scarves or flags if you want the children to work independently.

To use this song with hoops, I have the children work in pairs although you could group in 3s or 4s if you have large enough hoops.  The children stand on the outside of the hoop facing each other and then lift the hoop up/down or move around in a circle depending on the lyrics and the pitch of the notes.

Merry-Go-Round
Up, down, up, down  <lift hoop up and down>
In the middle and round and round   <hold in the middle and turn in a circle>
Up, down, up, down
In the middle and round and round

Horses and ponies are galloping by   <gallop in a circle>
Down to the ground   < hold low>
And up to the sky  <hold high>

Up, down, up, down
In the middle and round and round
Up, down, up, down
Let’s all ride on a Merry-Go-Round

Below is a pdf of the melody line along with lyrics.

Merry-Go-Round (Hoop Song)

Song for the Weekend – This is What I Like to Do

This is one of my warm-up and sing hello songs, using gross motor movements and concentrating on keeping a steady pulse. It has cumulative actions so is useful for memory skills.  You can download a pdf with tune and chords here or on the link below.

This is What I Like to Do
This is what I like to do x3
I like to clap my hands

This is what I like to do x3
I like to stretch up tall
I like to clap my hands

This is what I like to do x3
I like to touch my toes
I like to stretch up tall
I like to clap my hands

This is what I like to do x3
I like to stamp my feet
I like to touch my toes
I like to stretch up tall
I like to clap my hands

This is what I like to do x3
I like to wave hello
I like to stamp my feet
I like to touch my toes
I like to stretch up tall
I like to clap my hands

This is What I Like to Do – vocals plus chords

With older pre-schoolers I like them to choose their own actions and then see if we can remember them all, in order, by the end of the song. You can further develop ideas by using percussion instruments e.g. I like to play my rhythm sticks and then encourage the children to think of ways of playing loudly, quietly, quickly, and slowly.  How about to play like a dinosaur, what would that sound like?  Play like a spider…  play like a river… or play like rainstorm…

This is What I Like to Do

Song for the Weekend – Spider on the Floor

Kids Triathlong 010This week in class we’ve been singing about “things you find in the garden”.  So amongst songs about birds, cats, dogs, worms, frogs and other creepy crawlies we’ve been singing about spiders.  In the autumn my garden is full of spiders – I quite like them, they’ve got beautiful markings when you look at them closely.  There’s the obvious song, Incy Wincy Spider (or Itsy Bitsy Spider in some areas) but I like to sing this one – Spider on the Floor.  It’s sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and I’ve put guitar/ukulele chords underneath the words for the first verse.

If you’re a rather more talented guitar or ukulele player than I am, you could transpose each verse up a tone, so from C major 1st verse, to D major 2nd verse and so on until the spider returns to the floor back in C major.  In this way you could demonstrate pitch as the spider travels higher up the body.  But I like singing it staying in C major and having lots of fun with the tickling and developing a sense of body awareness.

Here is a link showing me singing this song at a class.

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor
C                                                        G7
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor
G7                                                      C
Who could ask for any more, there’s a spider on the floor,
C                F                                         C
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
C             G7                                       C G7 C

There’s a spider on my knee, on my knee
There’s a spider on my knee, on my knee
Oh goodness gracious me! There’s a spider on my knee
There’s a spider on my knee, on my knee.

There’s a spider on my tummy, on my tummy
There’s a spider on my tummy, on my tummy
Oh it really isn’t funny, there’s a spider on my tummy
There’s a spider on my tummy, on my tummy.

There’s a spider on my neck, on my neck
There’s a spider on my neck, on my neck
Oh! I’m gonna be a wreck! There’s a spider on my neck
There’s a spider on my neck, on my neck.

There’s a spider in my hair, in my hair
There’s a spider in my hair, in my hair
Oh it really isn’t fair! There’s a spider in my hair
There’s a spider in my hair, in my hair.

But… it’s okay… look! He’s jumped off!

There’s a spider on the floor etc

Lesson Planning

What could or should you put in a lesson plan? This is a huge question as so much depends on variables such as the age of the children, whether the lesson is held in a nursery or as an adult/child session, the personalities and abilities of the children concerned, what you’re looking to achieve from the classes, what your client base expects to get from the classes, how long your session is and so on. There is a lot to consider but here are some activities I try to include in a typical session for a group of mobile toddlers from around 18 months to 2 1/2 years old.

1. A Hello Song

Rhythm_Express 026I always start with the same song each session singing hello to the children. It establishes a framework of familiarity for the children – once they hear the beginning song they know it’s time for music class.

It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. Singing hello based on a so-mi (5th and 3rd notes of a scale) interval works very well e.g. “Hel-lo So-phie” which would be sung on so-mi so-mi pitches.

2. A Warm-up Song

Something to get everyone involved and interacting is always a good beginning to a class and a gross motor movement song is ideal. Large movements that young children can do such as clapping hands, stamping feet, jumping, marching, tapping on knees or feet on the beat encourage a sense of pulse which is the foundation for musical learning. I use the same warm up song for around 5-6 weeks – the repetition is important for children to learn the song but you need to avoid staleness and boredom so change it when necessary.

3. Finger Plays

As a contrast to gross motor movement and lively songs a simple finger play such as 5 Little Ducks or Tommy Thumb focus the children’s attention and engage fine motor movements. Many also have the benefit of introducing counting and numeracy skills.

4. Peekaboo or Peepo Songs

I love these songs as they are so interactive, both between adult and child and between the children themselves. I use peekaboo songs in all my sessions from babies up to school age, either using chiffon scarves, the parachute or stretchy lycra.

5. Knee Bouncers

Most children love knee bouncers. Helpful for establishing pulse, you can also bounce showing changes of tempo, demonstrate pitch by lifting up high and dropping down low and they’re great fun too.

6. Quiet Listening

Taking the time to listen carefully, either to music or to everyday sounds is so valuable and I’ve written about this previously here and here. I like to play on a variety of instruments in my sessions but mostly use my flute for quiet listening time. I use simple contrasting tunes e.g. loud/quiet or fast/slow and try to encourage the children to respond in their own way to the changes. At one of the early years settings I work in the children have taken to spontaneously dancing when the music is lively and then lying down when it is calm – all without any specific direction from me.

As well as live music we listen to every day sounds and match their sounds to flashcards and pictures. One particularly effective activity has been to use a ticking clock followed by Big Ben chimes which we count. You can see the intense concentration by the children and almost hear a pin drop between the bell strikes.

6. Circle Songs, Group and Co-operative Play

Ball PlayUsing the whole body to dance, march, jump or tiptoe to the music helps develop a sense of pulse and can help to improve co-ordination and body awareness.  Sometimes we might just dance round in a circle, other times I’ll introduce the giant dance scrunchie or the parachute and use these. Using the parachute, scrunchie, balls, hoops and lycra mean the children need to work together as a cohesive unit and encourages social co-operation. These props also enable you to demonstrate musical elements through large-scale body movements and activities.

7. Using Percussion Instruments

Using percussion instruments reinforces aspects of musicality developed through singing and body movement. In this section I use percussion instruments to demonstrate pulse, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, pitch and timbre.

9. Cool Down, Relax and then Good-bye

After a lively session it’s nice to settle down, relax and have a calming time. You can do this in many ways from quiet listening to gentle music while bubbles float by, or singing a lullaby, or singing a quiet interactive song. After this my sessions end with a familiar good-bye song so that the children know the session is over and it’s time to go.

As an example I’ve uploaded a sample lesson plan for a group of 2-3 year olds. Not all the activities are included – it’s only a 30 minute lesson as was conducted in a nursery group.

Pre-school Music Lesson Plan Example

Rain is Falling Down

I have a new favourite song – it’s so simple but so useful!  It’s called “Rain is Falling Down” a tune based on just 3 notes, the first 3 notes of any scale.

Rain is falling down [splash!]
Rain is falling down [splash!]
Pitter patter pitter patter
Rain is falling down [splash!]

I use this tune both with my early years groups and with beginner piano and flute students. I’ve uploaded a melody line plus chords and tonic sol-fa along with a sheet showing stick notation which you can download by clicking on the links below.

Rain is Falling Down Melody Line

Rain is Falling Down – Stick Notation

With the early years groups I initially use fine and gross motor movements – wiggling fingers for raindrops, patting on knees for pitter patter and clapping or jumping on the splash.  When the children are familiar with the song I introduce the stick notation and rhythm names and use a range of percussion instruments (e.g. rainmakers, floor drums, triangles and claves).  The children enjoy experimenting with the sounds to find ones which they think suit the words.

With beginner piano students I often use this in their first lesson, introducing it aurally then picking out the tune on the black notes.  The student can choose whether to make the splashes loud, quiet, and play high or low on the keyboard depending on what kind of rainstorm we’re making.  Later on I use it for improvisation within defined parameters such as using the 3 notes but changing the rhythms or using different notes but keeping the rhythm the same.

I’ve used it for teaching flute as well, but in G major as the first 3 notes typically taught on the flute are B, A and G.  You can use it as a good starting point for breathing in short phrases and for tonguing exercises.

Chick, Chick, Chicken

I have posted a blog about this song previously (here) but have decided to post an updated one as the site stats show lots of searches looking for guitar/uke chords.  I’ve created a leadsheet with simple chords which I hope will be useful!  You can download it by clicking the link below.

Chick Chick Chicken pdf

You can also listen to my recorded version here.

 

Davy Driver and Mrs Hen at the piano ready to sing!
Davy Driver and Mrs Hen at the piano ready to sing!