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The Secret Stairway

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Keywords: Music, Hands-On Learning, Composing, National Standards, Recorders, Smart Board
Subject(s): Music
Grades 3 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Noble Prentis Elem School, Kansas City, KS
Planned By: James Levy
Original Author: James Levy, Kansas City

Lesson: The Secret Stairway
Grade Level: Fifth
Name of Literature: Excerpts from Easy 8 by Don Muro
Materials: Musical examples and arrangements from Easy 8, SMART board and projector, recorders, accompaniment tracks, and stereo system.

1. To review previously learned fingerings/pieces and assess students on their knowledge of those concepts
2. To learn the fingering for the note E on the recorder
3. To apply the new fingering to musical exercises and pieces of music

National Standards Achieved:
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
4. Reading and notating music.
5. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
6. Evaluating music and music performances.

Planned Sequence:
1. Welcome fifth graders to the class and take attendance
2. Girls will be asked to get their assigned recorders out of the box first, followed by the boys
3. “We are going to review one of the songs from the last time that we met”
4. Present the song 'The Secret Stairway' onto the SMART board
5. Point to a dotted half note and ask the class what type of note that is and how long we hold it
6. Next, ask how we figure out how many beats go with dotted notes
7. Give students their starting pitch and have them sing through the song while fingering on their personal recorders
8. Ask if the students heard any wrong notes or had any wrong fingers
9. With the accompanying CD, have students play through ‘The Secret Stairway’
10. “Now, I would like to hear just a handful of students play The Secret Stairway so that I know you fully understand everything that we have talked about so far”
11. Select five students at random and have those five students come stand in front of the SMART board and play together while the rest of the class fingers along
12. Mention to all those students listening, that they need to be respectful of those playing which means there should be no talking and everyone should be following and fingering along
13. Have chosen students play through The Secret Stairway with accompanying CD (asses each student individually based on pitch and fingerings)
14. When complete, ask those chosen students to evaluate their playing and express how they thought they performed
15. Have class clap for those who played and thank those students for playing.
16. “Now you know how this is going to work, make sure to be ready every class period because I am going to be calling out numbers to hear you all play.”
17. Ask students what three notes we have already talked about in this class
18. Inform students that we are going to learn a new note. The note E.
19. Explain the fingering for the note E and ask all students to demonstrate the fingering for E in resting position.
20. Count off student and have them play four E’s in a row
21. Once the new fingering is learned, present the composing slide for SMART board
22. Have students look at the blank staff labeled as exercise number one and select a student to come to the SMART board and compose one of the eight measures by dragging any type of note or rest from the tool bar and placing it in their assigned measure (note: student should only compose on the notes and fingerings already learned
23. Continue to select students and have them compose another measure on the SMART board until all eight measures are complete.
24. Counting off four beats, have students play exercise number one. If there are problems with rhythm or notes have student repeat exercise.
25. Turn to the next SMART board slide and ask the students to look at the time signature for the song ‘Get Ready’
26. Ask students what time signature the piece is in, what type of note is the very first note of the piece, and how many beats we hold that first note.
27. Play accompanying CD through the stereo system and count off so the students know when to come in.
28. Have students play through ‘Get Ready’
29. Once students have played through the piece, ask students to discuss with their neighbor for 30 seconds something they would want to improve on the next time they play ‘Get Ready’
30. Have students play through ‘Get Ready’ for the second time allowing students to fix their one issue from before
31. Once again, have students discuss with their other neighbor for 30 seconds something they would want to improve on the final time they play ‘Get Ready’ in today’s class period
32. Have students play through ‘Get Ready’ using the assigned dynamics.
33. Dismiss the boys to put away recorder at line up. Once a majority of them are done, dismiss the girls to put away their recorders and line up.
This lesson can be used even without a smart board! You can use this type of lesson with just powerpoint etc. If you still want to involve the composing aspect, an option would be to have students go to the connected computer/laptop and have them compose it there.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
As far as recorders go, you could stretch and I'm sure find some way to incorporate cross curriculum techniques. Possibly find out if they are studying a specific culture, country or even just a part of the world in their main classroom. If they are, see if the music affiliated with that culture etc. has a similar type of instrument.
For every lesson, I would always review what was learned. Once a concept is reached continue to expand and challenge your students but also keep it enjoyable and ALWAYS make sure they are feeling successful for the work they have done.
Materials: Projectors, Projector Screens, DVD/VCR Players, CDs and DVDs, Slideshow, Early Composition, Integrating Technology
Other Items: 1 SMART Board 680 with UF55 Projector, $3299.00 each, total of $3299.00