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This may sound strange, but form is my favorite thing to teach students in my elementary music room. There are so many ways that you can teach it—through movement, drawing, manipulatives, etc. My favorite of the these is definitely movement.
This is a lesson that I did during my student teaching last year. It was one of three of my “focus lessons”.
We learned about form in many different ways: manipulatives, coloring, and flashlight routines (which are the bomb!), and with instruments. This lesson is with manipulatives and movement.
Also check out: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm
Animal Form Lesson
- Three different colored or shaped manipulatives (I used our Ellison press to make elephants, whales, and chickens, but these would be even more fun)
- Recording of Mussorgsky’s Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
- Recording of Tchaikovsky’s March from The Nutcracker
- Djembe— if you don’t have one, get one. I suggest a 10 or 12 in head.
- Pocket chart (optional)
- Sentence strips (regular or these dry erase ones, which are so cool!)
6. We compose music.
7. We listen to music.
10. We move to music.
- First, the teacher plays djembe or other drum. When the teacher plays forte, or loud (I would used the music vocabulary with 1 and 2 but not K) students will jump. When the teacher plays piano, or soft, students tip toe.
- Teacher plays 8 beats piano, then 8 beats forte. After they get a feel for that, feel free to speed up and slow down at will, or switch to 16 beats. This helps them get the hang of different sections, preparing them for form.
- Give students the manipulatives. These can be whatever you have, but I will use the animal names that I used. Have them hold a chicken and an elephant behind their back. Listen to Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks. Have the chicken dance around during the A section and go behind your back at the end. The chicken will come back out for the repeat of A. Then the elephant for B. Then the chicken.
- Tell students that the animals represent different parts of the music. When we talk about form, we use letters instead of animal names. We will call the chicken A and the elephant B. this song went AABA. Can you make that pattern with your animals? (It helps if you put magnets on a few of yours so you can attach them to the board. Or you can put them in the pocket chart.)
- Have students decide on an action for each section. I had sentence strips with words like “tap head” or “snap” on them. Once they pick an action, I put the sentence strips and the manipulatives next to each other for reference.
- Listen to the piece again using the actions for each section.
- Have students make their own form with their animals (I added in the whales for the C section). Pick one of the students’ forms and have everyone copy it. Play three noises on the drum (I used forte, piano, and rolling)—one for each section. You could also use three different instruments. Play 8 beats for each of the “sections” of the song the kid put together and have them do the actions.
- Repeat as time permits.
- For more advanced groups, I had them each perform do their own form at the same time. Each section got eight beats, and I would play the first beat forte so they would know when to change their actions. It was really cool because they were all doing different actions but at the same time.
- Tell the students you get to pick the next one. Make it ABACABA for March from the Nutcracker.
- Practice the movements with 8 beats for each section while playing on drum or other instrument.
- Then, listen to the piece and do the movements with it.
- Have the students go back to AABA and listen to the first piece. You could do movements or have them hold the correct manipulative for each section. Do one with the students, then see who can do it with their eyes closed (if you need an assessment, you could mark down who is changing their movements at the right time).
Make sure to add form to the word wall!
My kids had a blast! It also ties into the standards for math (at least in Georgia), because students have to make and recognize patterns.
What is your favorite way to teach form? Are you interested in the other lessons form this unit? Let me know in the comments!