During the project this year I have been focusing on just the older classes (4th and 5th grade) for the most part. To further work on the project I began using the same techniques with some of the younger grades. It was actually my first grade class that surprised me. The class seemed handle the simple patters with the boomwhackers well and picked up each set quickly. I did notice however that they became less successful as the patterns became longer. I was then curious as to if they they would take the knowledge and transfer it to the other instruments. I then took an orff instrument and told the students that they only needed to use the bottom three keys. (In this case they were Do, La and So) One of the students who volunteered to go first was actually able to play the correct pattern in only two tries. I then asked for others. None of them was able to accomplish the task as quickly, but most of them were able to play the pattern. When a student had trouble with the pattern I would then play it on another instrument, ask the student to sing it back to me, just as we had before. After that I would then ask them to sing the pattern as they played. If the pitch matched I would let them continue on, if it didn’t match, would ask them to try another note.

I then began to feel that if the first graders could do this then I should be able to have my older kids use the same process. However, when I actually tried I found a different result. The older kids “want” to be told exactly what to do. It was almost if they were afraid to make a mistake, even though I have always tried to keep my classroom an open and judgment free environment. I then realized that they actually were afraid to make a mistake and felt that if I told them exactly what to do they would not “fail.” It made me realize that if I did not start encouraging the students to use their ear, apply what they know about pitch and how it is related to instrument size and to not be afraid to “make a mistake” at a young age they would have some difficulty with the process as they grow older.

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