I love using scarves in my music class. They encourage movement, can be used for many different types of activities, and they are just plain fun. This is a scarf routine to Sempre Libera from La Traviata.
If you have read some of my opera lessons like this one (Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories), you know that I spent a lot of the first semester teaching my students about opera. It was partly because of a curriculum that we do in my county, and partially just because I love opera.
And I wanted them to love opera too.
And it worked!
One of the pieces the students had to become familiar with was Sempre Libera from La Traviata (you can find it by clicking here).
First, I showed them a YouTube video of Sempre Libera in an opera. Then we talked about how to use facial expressions and body language to show how we feel.
Then we watched it again and I asked them how they think she felt, and how they knew that. (Ex. I think she was excited, because she was dancing.)
I really like this video of Sempre Libera because it shows her excited when she is singing about being free, and upset when the guy is singing to her.
I explained what the aria is about. The guy wants to marry her, so he is singing about how wonderful she is. She does not want to marry him, which is why she doesn’t look happy when he is singing. When she is singing, she is talking about wanting to be free and happy and not with this guy.
After all of this as an intro, I had the kids get scarves.
After the usual explanation of, “If you hit anyone or if your scarf leaves your hand, then you will lose your scarf!” we started.
I started out the week having the kids “Show me what the music looks like.” This worked very well (I go into more details in this post). I, of course, was also showing how the music sounded.
And I noticed that I kept doing the same thing. So, this is how I came up with the Sempre Libera scarf routine.
If you are interested in more scarf lessons you can check them out here:
If you have read any of my posts, you will know that I love to use scarves in my elementary music classroom. I usually use a choreographed scarf routine, but I also allow students to move creatively with scarves.
I have a whole post about that you can read here. It has ideas for scarf activities to teach different things.
My K-2 did an opera unit this year. We used creative movement with scarves (which I talk about in this post), coloring, watching videos, etc. We also did a scarf routine to Bizet’s “Les Toreadores” No. 1.
I liked this one because it is opera—although there is no singing, so it may be a good way to easy your kids into opera—and it is has clear, distinguished sections.
A-March and move scarf up and down like a baton in a marching band
B-Move scarf back and forth above head for 8 beats, then at feet for 8 beats. For the trills, shake the scarf quickly and high
C-Get low (all the way to the ground!) and move scarf in a sideways figure 8 motion. Every 16 beats of the melody, get a little bit higher. The music will also get a little bit louder. This will happen four times, so don’t get too tall too fast!
End-Shake the scarf really high above your head and freeze at the end
Super easy, right? It is even easier with the music, because each section is so different!
Get your scarves here!
Find another form lesson here (minus the scarves).
I know this was a short post, but that’s all! Make sure to check out my post on Creative Movement with Scarves for a lot of other scarf ideas! I will be posting more opera ideas, so make sure you subscribe!
I love using scarves in my classroom. We do scarf routines that I have made up, or from Artie Almeida’s Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My! (Which if you do not have, you need!). We use them to keep the steady beat, feel phrases, etc.
So when I first started my opera unit, I thought, “I will make up a scarf routine for these two songs.”
And then I didn’t.
So it was right before my first class, and I realized that I had forgotten. So I decided to improvise.
“Let’s do creative movement with scarves! You can make up your own moves that match the music.”
I thought creative movement would be a disaster. That people would be hitting each other or bored or whatever.
I know this is nothing new, but I am here to say if you have not tried creative movement, you should. How do I incorporate creative movement? You may ask. Well here are some ideas…
Creative Movement for Listening
This is the easiest and best. This is how I used creative movement for the first time.
We were learning about opera. My school district does this wonderful program called Musical Explorers. The students learn about three types of music, and then go to a concert… twice a year. If you teach in near Savannah, Georgia or New York City, check it out! (Link for Savannah, link for NYC)
Anyway, one of our styles is opera. I love opera, so I was very excited for this.
We had some quiet listening time first. I told them to close their eyes. They could move their arms or heads or bodies, but eyes have to stay closed and you have to stay in your seat.
This also went better than anticipated.
Then we talked about opera. We watched a video of the other song we needed to learn. Then I pulled out the scarves.
All I said was that your scarf should match the music. So if it is fast, how should your scarf move? If it is slow, how should your scarf move? With the older kids, we talked about how you could also trace the melody, or have bigger movements when it was louder.
And it was great! Most of them actually bought into it and were listening.
Tips: Let them hear the music prior to turning them loose with the scarves. Encourage them to move their body to the music so that it will be easy to translate to the scarves.
Creative Movement for High and Low
My students have practiced high and low while moving around the room, wiggling their fingers, pretending to be fairies and monsters, etc. Scarves would be great!
You could play on the piano and have them move their scarf high for high sounds or low for low sounds. The Music Connection has a recording of high and low sounds for this purpose. Have them talk about different high movements and low movements. Challenge them by having them pick a different movement each time.
My students listened to Edward Elgar’s Fairies and Giants. We pretended to be fairies on our tip toes for the high parts and crouched down low for loud parts. You could have a lot of fun moving the scarves with this one.
This is along the same lines. Play an instrument or listen to a piece that has forte and piano sections. Have students pick a movement to represent each one (maybe something with a small movement for piano and a large movement for forte).
You could also divide the room into two and have students move to one side for piano and the other for forte, while creatively moving their scarves to the music.
Of course, you would want to break that into sections—first listen, then stay in seats and show forte and piano, then move around the room for each one, and then finally do it all together with the scarves.
Creative Movement for Form
Have students listen to a piece of music with clear distinctions between sections (I like March from The Nutcracker (ABACABA), Rondo Alla Turca (ABCBABC), and Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks (AABA)) and talk about how form is how music is made. Talk about the form of it, so they know (and write it on the board). Then have students make up a movement for each section with their scarves.
You could even start this way, and then have students vote for their favorite movements to create a routine!
Have students listen to (short) pieces of music and use their scarf to reflect it. They can also use their faces to express how the music feels. Tell them they can move the scarf however they want as long as they are listening—if it is a slow, quiet piece, then the scarf movement should reflect that.
Also—end with a slow, calm, quiet piece as a winding down activity.
Artie Almeida has a great music-mood resource which you can use with scarves.
Creative Movement for Assessment
Yes, you heard me: assessment.
Creative movement with scarves can be used for assessing any of the things I mentioned and then some. Just watch the students responding to the music, and write down if they are understanding or not. For assessment purposes, having them close their eyes will give you a better sense of what they know.
Some other things you could assess include:
Instruments of the orchestra: Pick a movement for each instrument family, and have students watch or listen to a piece and show what they see. The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra would be great for this.
Melody: Have students listen to a song and trace the melody with their scarves.
Crescendos and decrescendos: Moving in increasingly large circles for crescendos and small circles for decrescendos.
Those are some ideas. Did I miss something that you like to do with creative movement? Have you tried any of these before? Let us know in the comments! I am always open to more ideas!
And don’t forget to get your scarves! If you do not believe me, try it and see! School can’t afford scarves? Check out my article on Donor’s Choose. You may be able to get them for free!