I’ve added a new link to my blogroll.
I write a bi-monthly column for a magazine called Activate! which goes out to music educators grades K – 6.
Heritage Press, the publisher, just started a blog with advice and suggestions posted by different Activate contributors.
If you are interested in music education, this may be a good resource for you.
I’m calling it “Ideas About Music Education.”
As a director of movement performances, I value the ‘flow’ of an event. This gives it polish and lowers the stress level for everyone!
Here are some tips for creating flow.
1. Blocking – Everyone needs to know where they supposed to sit before they perform and where they are supposed to go and stand to perform. Enlist the help of teachers, etc. to ‘wrangle’ each of the performing groups if they are – for example – several classes in an early childhood center. They can even begin by sitting on their own classroom rugs, brought into the space for this occasion.
2. Use ‘magic hands’ to cue transitions. Hands with palms facing up and rising = ‘stand’. Palms facing down and lowering = ‘sit.’ Hands separating, or pointing = ‘go to your assigned places.”
3. Use shorthand vocabulary for body positions. My words are ‘sit ready position’ (that’s the criss-cross apple sauce we all know and love), ‘stand tall one and all’ for the standing neutral position. Magic hands tell people to do these things.
4. Use a song that the children know that helps them line up and move from one place to another. This makes the transition to ‘places’ part of the fun for them and the audience and keeps the pacing lively and interesting. I use
Down By the Station (from Songs for Dancing) for this because a train is a single file line that moves down a track. You can signal groups, one by one, with magic hands, to get them to their feet, and use your adult helpers to lead off the train.
This is an excellent exit strategy too, as groups leave the space one by one at the end of a program.
(I based this on the assumption that you have already taught and used this song/activity before and that it is comfortable and familiar to the children.)
I also use The Goodbye Song (from Songs for Dancing) to start off the transition to end the program, and keep the music going as they move towards the exit. (Of course, first I say all the closing stuff, then make The Goodbye Song the ultimate activity, starting in self space, then dismissing group by group, using eye contact with the leaders and ‘magic hands’ to signal)
A good friend of mine turned me on to this blog called Dancing Words. It has suggested books to dance, and the concepts that connect to them. A great resource! I also have a link to it in my Blogroll that I’ve named “Dance Books for Children.”
Direction in Space is about forward, backward, side to side, up and down movement….in-place or traveling.
We can make directional shapes, pointing different parts of the body in different directions. We can look in different directions, changing our focus.
When we understand direction we become aware of new ways of using the space and gather ideas for dance making.
The second lesson I teach in my fall semester is size and level. These two concepts pair up nicely. As you’ll see in the lesson plan, we often think that ‘high’ means ‘big’ and ‘low’ means ‘small.’ Actually, near or far reach from the core or center of our bodies indicates size. Level is distance up or down. (Read my blog post on the elements of dance for more on this subject).
In this lesson, I cite a selection of music from one of Eric Chappelle’s CDs, which you can now download as an individual track from CD Baby.
I also mention the Australian group, Shenanigans. They are a really fun ensemble, with lively, energetic music for creating a joyful atmosphere. You can get their CDs through West Music or download an album from itunes. Lately, I’ve been enjoying their CD called Bush Dances of New Holland Vol 2 as pre-class music.
Finally, Eric Chappelle’s music is available as individual downloads through CD Baby.
Eric is the composer who works closely with Anne Green Gilbert, the author of Creative Dance for All Ages and Brain-Compatible Dance Education. His 4-volume series, Contrast and Continuum, is super-useful for working in the concept-based format. In fact, in Anne’s Brain-Compatible book, she suggests specific tracks from Eric’s music for specific activities.
Many of my lesson plans cite his music for specific activities, too. Now you can get just the tracks you need, or download a complete album.