I finally had time to stage a little amateur (very) photo shoot of some of the works that can be done with the Bells Music Signs and Notes material concerning pitch. Last week I wrote about modifying this set to create some rhythmic notation works.
Disclaimer: This is only a blog post. It would be a lot of work and too much typing to recreate full presentations here on the blog for all of these works and for the works I haven't included. I am not trying to provide full presentations or, for that matter, all of the presentations. I'm just trying to demonstrate the general types of things that can be done with these materials. There are a lot of little presentations before and after these works that I haven't mentioned at all. So, please don't get upset if it seems like I've skipped a step or ten.
Sometime after the child has demonstrated the ability to match the bells (Miller states that "This shows that the child can hear the pitches and can distinguish one from another."), we can introduce the names of the pitches. This is similar to introducing the sandpaper letters to the child after they can hear the letter sounds and can distinguish one from another. Just as in the sandpaper letters, you only introduce two or three at a time and use a three period lesson as necessary. Basically, you strike or ring a bell and then say "This is c." or "This is g." White discs with the appropriate note names can be placed in front of the bells.
Other notations lessons involve a set of chalkboards with the staff drawn on them called "green boards" or "staff boards." I have been waiting for mine (on backorder) to come from Nienhuis for several months to no avail. I made my own temporarily out of 11X17 construction paper and a permanent black marker. You want these to be at least 17 inches wide. If you can find something the right size, you could make your own from a white board or chalkboard by drawing the lines on with a permanent marker.
The first board that is used is a simple board that features only the five empty lines of the staff (and sometimes a leger line). If yours can be written on and erased you would use this board to introduce the word "staff" and demonstrate how to number the lines and spaces:
Just in case you don't know the numbering, I snapped some photos of portions of the page in my album:
You can also get a glimpse on those album pages (right hand side) of how a blank piece of paper, chalkboard, or white board will later be used to name the "ledger line" and give a "verbal way to describe the lines and spaces created by the use of ledger lines" (Miller, 18).
Another kind of staff board that is used has numbered noteheads printed directly on it. Its purpose is the "Association of the note names with their proper places on the staff that uses the G-clef" (20).
I made mine from 11x17 construction paper again. I glued on 1" cardstock circles I dug out of the package of collage materials in the boys' art closet. The numbers are stickers from the scrapbook section of the craft store.
A set of 8 black discs are needed with the letters on one side and the number on the other (c=1, d=2, etc.,)
Note: You could make discs like these by spray painting the 1" wooden discs sold in packages at the craft store and applying adhesive numbers and letters from the scrapbook section.
The child first labels their set of bells with the white discs shown earlier. The adult places the eight black discs near the staff board in a cluster. The child chooses any numbered disc and places it on its corresponding number on the staff, turns it over, says its note name, then plays the corresponding bell. They continue in random order until all of the discs are on the board.
Another activity I think is pretty neat is the work involving note names on the unmarked green staff. This work uses the green staff board with the ledger line and also a collection of homemade ledger lines (cut from cardstock and laminated).
The Bells Music Signs and Notes material came with 32 white discs (4 each of c, d, e, f, g, a, b, c) to use on the staff boards in addition to the 8 white discs with note names that are used with the bells directly. Again, the child sets up the white discs with the note names in front of the appropriate bells.
The child picks a white disc, says its name, and looks it up on the c-major scale control strip. Then, the disc is placed upside down on the appropriate line or space on the staff board. I photographed two middle-c's so you could see a disc on both the printed leger line (right) and on the homemade laminated one (left).
Then, the child plays the corresponding bell and does a few more. They could place all of the discs or choose to stop at any point. The board would look like this:
As you can see, this work also requires that the child place the G-clef on the staff board.
When the child is done placing discs, per Miller's instructions, "pick a particular line or space. Turn all of the discs on that line or space over. They should have the same name." (22)
I think (although the presentation doesn't say) that you would turn the discs back over before you check another line or space. If you didn't, the board would look something like this:
I have labelled this post "part one" for several reasons. One is that I would like to show you the "parallel exercises" for note names of the C-Major scale (both matching and grading) once I have made the materials. Also, as we move into more advanced work I anticipate that there may be more posts with this title and that having them identified might be useful.
It looks like there will be a third week of "Montessori Music Week" here next week. I have had some requests for information about our rhythm band activities, recorders, and music appreciation. I'm sure some of you have had "enough music" and are ready to see some of our other work again. I do have some projects completed that I would love to photograph before I forget all about them. I also was able to photograph a few more sound bins. Perhaps you'll see a mixture of posts next week. My sister had a baby this week and I am sincerely hoping that my new niece's arrival disrupts our schedule somewhat!
If you are looking for the rest of my series on Montessori Music, there is a tab at the top of my blog under the header, or they can be found here!
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