Strummin’ on the Old Banjo

20 Nov

Third graders recently learned the rhythm “tika-tika,” also known as four sixteenth notes. One of the songs I use to teach this rhythmic concept is “Dinah.”

The traditional folk song, "Dinah" arranged for recorder.

The traditional folk song, “Dinah” arranged for recorder.

 

After singing this song and dictating the rhythm, one of the students asked, “What’s a banjo?” It hadn’t occurred to me that they might not know this! So I did what any 21st century music educator would do – I went to YouTube and pulled up the first song I could think of that featured a banjo.

 

Another one of the students in the same third grade class opened my eyes to some really amazing news… There is a picture book rendition of Steve Martin’s Late for School!! The illustrator, C.F. Payne has illustrated one of my other favorite music picture books, The Remarkable Farkle McBride by John Lithgow.

For future lessons, I am planning to pair these two picture books to hit on two of the Ohio Music Standards for third grade:

  • 1CE Visually and aurally, identify the four families of orchestral instruments.
  • 6CE Identify careers in music including composing, performing and conducting.

The Remarkable Farkle McBride is a great story about the orchestra (1CE). Authors Steve Martin and John Lithgow are both accomplished musicians (6CE) but are more famous for their acting careers. This would be a very interesting conversation to have with the students about how music is related to the other performing arts and to fine arts such as illustration.

I love it when a simple question from a student leads me down a teaching path I never would have expected!

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