Sunday, June 30, 2013

Becoming part of the Orchastra - Peter Pan the musical

Today's musical adventure followed Peter Pan in Neverland (second act).  My intent was to just have them watch scenes along with this lesson, but trying to turn off or skip through this musical is practically impossible.  I was however able to pause before each musical number to give them a mini lesson so they could provide some very important elements to the background music.

As it so happens, because the girls didn't want me stopping or skipping through this musical, they were able to add to our lesson.  As we watched the scenes play out, the girls picked up on instruments and other sound effects they heard.  They then would find the instruments that they could play for those moments.  While Tinkerbell flies around the stage, they used their jingle bells. With the Crock, they used the tick tock of the metronome and for the mermaids the lap harp.

When setting up for this lesson, I provided them with a variety of instruments to play. Some of the instruments were specific to the lesson and others were for an experiment.  As a dance teacher, I find it interesting to watch how other choreographers pick up on music.  One artist may set the steps to a drum beat, were as another will pick up on perhaps the tune of a wind instrument.   Each individual is so unique in what they tune into and hear. So for some of the songs I wanted to give my girls the opportunity to explore the music on their own.  Just like two different choreographers, I wanted to see what their ears picked up on and how that would play out as they played along.

The second act opens with the Indians and a drum beat.

The rhythm of the drum

We used our buckets and rhythm sticks to give us that good bass drum sound.

In this musical, Hook provides us with a lesson in tempo's.  Before he sings a song, Smee asks, "What tempo Captain?" and he gives his answer.  I provided the girls with a visual on each type of song, giving them a time signature and rhythm.

The first song is "Hooks Tango"

As you can see, this song is in 4/4 time and we used tango rhythm number 1.

The girls played this rhythm with their castanets. Very fitting for a tango.

The Indians then had another song with a new drum beat and with this rhythm came a new symbol.

This is an accent over the note and it tells us to play the note stronger or louder.

The songs drum beat changes through the song but starts off with this rhythm and comes back to it.  I had the girls play this as a steady rhythm through the whole number.

The next song was called "Wendy" performed by Peter and the Lost Boys.  I had the girls play on their big piano the melody the boys sing. 

"We need a mother, at last we have a mother."

I had the girls play this with their feet on their BIG piano.

Next was the song "I Won't Grow Up".  In this song the lost boys repeat after Peter, so we played the part of the lost boys and sang with them. 

"Hook's Tarantella " is a bit too complex for them, but I was able to show them the rhythm as well as its 6/8 time signature.  

Counting the 6/8 time signature is even confusing for myself. I really just wanted the girls to see that there are different time signatures as well as show them how the different rhythm patterns make up the songs.  For this song I let the girls listen and pick out the sounds and instruments they wanted as part of the experiment.

"Ugh a Wug" is my favorite number in this whole performance!  The song is filled with amazing drum beats and Stomp type choreography that includes rhythm sticks!  The girls were able use their rhythm from the previous Indian song.

They only used this rhythm for a short while, but with their buckets and rhythm sticks they were easily able to pick up on new rhythms.  There is even a section were Peter begins playing a mambo rhythm on the drum.  It was very entertaining to watch my little crazy's feel the music and naturally pound out beats.

We finished with "Hook's Waltz"

The girls learned how to waltz last summer during one of our dance lessons.  This song comes in a 3/4 time signature. Playing the rhythm you count 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, and while dancing you say step, ball, change, step, ball, change.  The rhythm is very easy to follow. We used our rhythm sticks to tap out the 1, 2, 3.

After this lesson with the girls, my mind seems to be racing with ideas to build upon.  I hope to be able to write out a more detailed curriculum but wonder if I will ever find the time.  For now I must take off my teacher hat, put on the chef's hat and head to the kitchen.  Tonight, in honor of our theme we shall eat Codfish!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Peter Pan Finds His Shadow - Art lesson

I think there is something to be learned from this boy who refuses to grow up.  Some evenings as I'm up late folding laundry or doing those household tasks that require no kids and sitting still, I put on this movie and without fail my mood lifts and I can't help but smile.  I wish everyone could take a lesson from Peter Pan and just lighten up!  As adults we get into the habit of letting the day to day responsibilities pull us down when we really should look at each day as a new adventure.  

"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned.  Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!"

Today, fresh out of bed and in our nightgowns we began our adventure by chasing our shadows.

once we had found our shadows we turned them into a masterpiece.

I traced each girls shadow for the outline of our project.

We then did a little art history lesson on Giotto di Bondone.  Coppelia has always been drawn to the religious paintings done during the renaissance so this little lesson seemed extra fascinating to her.  Once we explored his art work and read a little about him we then made paints the way he did.

Using small chunks of sidewalk chalk we took a bowl and rock and ground them into a powder.

We then used an old egg carton and put our powder in each compartment.

next we turned our chalk into paint using eggs and water

We separated the egg yolk from the egg white and added 2 tablespoons of water to each egg yolk.

We stirred up the egg yolks and water until they started get those bubbles on top.  Then we added the egg mixture to our chalk, mixed it with a brush and voilĂ , beautiful vibrant paints.

The project was to paint their shadow.

Messy fun and beautiful art make for a great adventure.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dance Class Goes Into the Woods

I feel like we cover so much in our lessons that I'm trying to just post highlights and the activities that go along with our weekly theme.  

For this lesson I planned activities that coordinated with our weekly music lesson.  In our music lesson we began working on eighth notes and so to go along with this I added moves that could be performed using this rhythm as well.

During warm up we started with our typical exercise with hula hoops placed in different points of the room.  If you have been following this blog you may now understand that the hula hoops placement was a broken down step into understanding points of the room.  When marching to a hoop that held another form of prop (number, note, picture, shape etc.) 

Today we used our pie illustrated whole note, half note, quarter note and eighth note in points 2,4,6 and 8.  

The notes and moves

whole note - Windmill
half note - hip rolls
quarter note - arm reach
eighth note - shoulder shrugs

When teaching small children it is important to keep them moving and having fun so that they will not grow bored.  As I begin implementing exercises to build their aplomb and muscle strength I spend only a very short amount of time in this section of their lesson.  For now I am doing 3 exercises performed 3-4 times each.  I am also very hands on because I want them to learn to do this right, so if their form is less then perfect it's because I was behind the camera rather then where I should be.  

all exercise should be done in a parallel position (no turn out)

We start by sitting nice and tall, belly in and arms in front of us.  
she needs to drop shoulders and lift chin
Then we roll our spine and round out our backs

We lift curved spine and straighten. repeat 3-4 times

Side note:  During our school time we have used this exercise as we work on the vowel sound "U".  We begin sitting tall and then the "U" (on it's side) punches us in the gut making us say "uh" and then our form changes giving us the curve in our spine.

Our second exercise is leg lifts.  The real goal in this exercise to keep your spine glued to the floor with you belly pulled in.  There should be no space between you lower back and the floor.  Lift one leg keeping it pointed and stretched.

Then slowly, with control, lower leg to floor.

Coppelia is not as naturally flexible as her sister so I only have her lift her leg to the point where it begins to bend. 

The third exercise is a sit up.  Rolling one vertebra off the floor at a time slowly roll into pulled up sitting position.

As our lessons continue, skills strengthen and their attention spans grow I will be able to build upon these exercises as well as add new ones.

During our x-floor time we used music from "Into the Woods" to help us move like the characters

Princess walks
Little Red Riding Hood skips
Wolf (Hello Little Girl) 
his song changes and it gave us two different movements to work with
slides and step side cross front

In our weekly music lesson we played with a very common rhythm found in this musical.

We decided to use this rhythm to play with choreography.

For our ballet/creative movement time 

option 1
gallop 6x to the left, skip forward 2x
gallop 6x to the right, skip back 2x

option 2
gallop 6x to the side, skip forward, skip backwards

Moving to our tapping time I let them first tap out this rhythm on their own.

This little exercise proved to be tons of fun!

We then used some choreography using a cramp roll

step right toe up, step left toe 3x (6 cts - 6 quarter notes)
heel drop right, heel drop left 2x (2 cts - 4 eighth notes)

Hope you enjoyed our lesson!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ballet Numbers - points of a room

I love teaching my girls while integrating the arts.  I feel like it's such a natural way to approach learning and when I see these little projects become the building blocks to a bigger step with no confusion from them my hearts leaps.

Last year we began a number project to reinforce number recognition.  Each day we took a number and built a number board that also had a color theme.

With all of our colors we were able to use our play room to create a (sorta) color wheel

We had to add two more colors or shades to this project to make it work so I added black and white.  

The numbers and colors 

1 - white
2 - Red
3 - Orange
4 - Yellow
5 - Black
6 - Green
7 - Blue
8 - Purple

With these number boards we hung them around the room to illustrate the 8 points of a room as taught in classical ballet.

Note:  RAD and The Cechetti have a different method for numbering their directions. 

This is a glimpse of what our playroom corners look like

This year I added a new prop to my bag of teaching tools.

Using a cut yoga mat and a marker they now have a visual aid as I give them directions such as sit facing 3.
When our reading improves I will add to the reverse side stage directions, upstage, downstage, stage right, etc.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

In to the Woods with Mama Drama

We have had a crazy week!  I'm finally starting to breath and the laundry pile is beginning to recede which means me can resume our summer lessons.  

Writing a lesson plan for this musical had it's challenges.   There is so much wonderful material to work with and I found myself getting a bit to complex for their little minds.   Although I think kids are capable of far more then we give them credit for I had to keep reminding myself to simplify and save some of those acting exercises until they could at least read better. 

We started with a simple warm up.  Lying on the floor we relax our bodies 

Then we tighten every muscle in our body. 
We did this about 4 times just to wake our bodies.  

Then I played the instrumental music to Into the woods.  The girls wiggled and danced around the room and when I paused the music they became statues in a museum.

I'd walk around them like I was a guest in the museum inspecting the sculptures and taking pictures of the beautiful art.  After a few rounds of the free style poses I would give them a character from "Into the Woods" that they would have to turn into a statue.



Coppelia wanted a prop and a second chance at her giant statue 

We then moved on to vocal warm-ups. 

We started of with Repunzals "AHH AHH AHH" singing.  I gave them different ways to sing it.

Calling for her prince
in agony

Then we worked on our pronunciation and projection Using these lines from the musical.

"Beans, beans, the special beans, I let him go, I didn't know he'd stolen my beans."

The second line used was,
"To see, to sell, to get to bring, to make, to lift, to go to the festival."

Typically at this age I would cut these lines in half but since my children have the whole show practically memorized the real exercise for them was in saying it clearly.

We then moved as the characters would across the floor

 The bakers wife - chasing after the cow

Rapunzel's prince stumbling blind through the forest
The Giant
Little Red Riding Hood
The Wolf
Prince Charming searching for Cinderella

As actors I think it is important to understand a character and the decisions they make.  
The girls really like the Witch in this musical she has some of the best songs and lines and in this musical she would be considered an anti-villain.  What qualifies her as the villain is the poor choices she makes against the people that have wronged her and towards the daughter (Rapunzel) who she loves and really just want to protect.

We sat next to our music player and listened to her sing and then discussed the Witch.  Once we were done I had them sing along with the Witch expressing the emotions they now understood.

We finished out our lesson with two mini scripts.

The first is between Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

Little Red Riding Hood:  Good day Grandmother.  My Grandmother, you're looking very
                                     strange. What big ears you have!

Wolf:                               Te better to hear you with my dear.

Little Red Riding Hood:  But Grandmother, What big eyes you have!

Wolf:                               The better to see you with my dear.

Little Red Riding Hood:  But Grandmother, what large hands you have!

Wolf:                                The better to hug you with my dear.

Little Red Riding Hood:  Oh, Grandmother what a terrible, big, wet mouth you have!

Wolf:                                The better to eat you with!

Little Red Riding Hood:  (SCREAM)

The second script was between Rapunzel and the Witch

Rapunzel: (singing) ahhhhhhh ahhhhhhhh ahhhhhh

Witch:       Repunzel

Rapunzel: (still singing) ahhhhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhh

Witch:       Repunzel

Rapunzel:  (still singing)  ahhhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhh

Witch:       (bangs on tower) Rapunzel!

Rapunzel:  Stops singing

Witch:       Let down your hair to me

(witch climbs hair and Rapunzel shows on her face how much it hurts)

This is were we concluded the lesson.  I hope you enjoyed.