Third Grade - Music - Lesson 13 - Sound Experiments

Note to the Teacher
The music lessons for this month reinforce what the students are learning in the science curriculum. Be sure that they understand that the connection between music-making and the phenomena of sound waves, on the one hand, and human anatomy on the other, are part of the whole wonder of producing, receiving, and interpreting sound. Science Lesson 34, dealing with pitch and frequency and Science Lesson 35, dealing with the four kinds of instruments, are good background for today's music lesson. Instruments constructed as part of Science Lesson 35 can be used as Materials for the first part of this lesson.

Recall that vibrations produce sound waves.
Recall that anatomical structures in our ears receive sound waves.
Note that shortening strings or a column of air produces higher tones.
Note that tightening vocal chords (shortening) produces higher tones.
Experiment with sound in speaking and singing.

A violin, guitar, or other instrument with at least one string (commercial or homemade)
A handbell, sleigh bell, or other bell large enough to be seen clearly by the whole class
A drum of any kind, commercial or handmade
A woodwind instrument or any kind of pipe or whistle
Illustrations of instruments from the four families of instruments, see Suggested Books

Suggested Books
Ardley, Neil. Music. New York: Knopf, 1989.
An excellent book for reviewing what the students have studied in science this month, and combining that with beautiful pictures of particular instruments in the four families of instruments. Also illustrated are the making of guitars, keyboard instruments, and violins.
Danes, Emma. The Usborne First Book of Music. London: Usborne, 1993.
This book has lots of musical experiments and explanations for music and sound phenomena that are both simple and accurate.
Drew, Helen. My First Music Book. London & New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.
Instructions for making and playing simple instruments are included in this book.
Oates, Eddie Herschel. Making Music: 6 Instruments You Can Create. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
This is a good book for experiments at home--detailed instructions are written and illustrated for making a balloon tom-tom, a wrench xylophone, a xylo-drum, a garden- hose trumpet, a spoon roarer, and a singing sitar. All of them use simple household materials, but they also require some help and supervision of an adult.
Sharma, Elizabeth. The Voice. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993.
This is part of a series of books Sharma has written on families of instruments. An excellent drawing on p. 5 shows the anatomical configuration and location of all parts of the body used when singing and speaking. An enlargement of the vocal chords is especially good. There is a good section on rounds for beginners on pp. 26-29.
Wiseman, Ann. Making Musical Things. New York: Scribner, 1970.
For students interested in experimenting at home, this book is filled with simple directions for making instruments out of all kinds of basic kitchen tools and regular household throwaway items.
Begin the class by asking the students to tell you how sound waves travel and how they are received by our ears (from Science). Then write What vibrates? on the board. Tell the students that you will show them examples from different families of instruments and they are to tell you what vibrates to make the sound for each instrument. Write down three categories, labeled air vibrates, strings vibrate, and instrument vibrates. (If you can arrange the chairs in a circle around you for this lesson, which includes a demonstration, the students have a better chance of being able to see the actual vibrations.)
Show them a stringed instrument of any kind. Either bow or pluck a string and ask: What part of this instrument vibrates to make the sound? (string, strings) Write its name on the board under its proper heading and ask them: What happens to the pitch if I press down hard somewhere on the string? (string is shortened, pitch is higher) Demonstrate this for them. What happens if I loosen the string? (string is lengthened, pitch is lower)
Show them any kind of bell, and have someone strike it with a chopstick, or built in bell ringer and ask: What vibrates to make the sound? (the instrument) Write the name of the instrument on the board under the proper category and ask them: What would I need to get a higher pitch on an instrument like this? (find a smaller bell)
Repeat the procedure with a whistle, ocarina, or other wind instrument, and write its name under the column that says air vibrates. Repeat it with any kind of drum; try to have the students seated close enough so they can see the head of the drum vibrate. Include it under the heading that says instrument vibrates. If you have pictures of other common instruments such as trumpet, harp, flute, etc., show them now and add each name to the appropriate column.
Next, ask the students to think about what it is that vibrates to produce sound in people when they speak or sing. Give them a chance to experiment with singing their doe, a dear scale while exploring with their hands to locate where the sound is being produced. If they have trouble describing what is happening internally, show them the diagram below (or a diagram from one of the Suggested Books) and explain (or ask a student to explain if someone volunteers) that our voices are really instruments as well. Our mouths, heads, and noses become sound boxes, our lungs push a column of air up the windpipe, causing the 2 vocal chords that are stretched across the larynx (part of the windpipe) to vibrate. That means we have both the column of air that wind instruments have and string-like vocal chords that shorten to produce high sounds and lengthen to produce low sounds. Ask them how we lengthen and shorten our vocal chords? (Our brains tell our vocal chords to lengthen or shorten.)
Next, ask the students: What is the difference between speaking and singing? (Accept any thoughtful answers.) Say to them: You are going to try a simple experiment with pitch that tells something important about the difference between speaking and singing. Only regular vibrations of unvarying frequency produce a level of pitch. In speech the pitch is always varying, so in speech we don't produce a musical pitch.
Have each person take turns saying the word no and try to make it last more than five seconds without letting their voice go up or down at all. If they can keep the sound absolutely level for that length of time they will find themselves singing, rather than speaking. Let them play with this experiment and notice how many variations in pitch are heard when speaking just a single word.
Go back to doe, a deer, having everyone sing it together again. Then ask: What else does music have besides melody? What else do you hear when we sing that song? (rhythm) Say to the
students: Let's try another simple experiment. Everyone will use his or her own name, stressing the rhythm it makes when you make up a simple tune for it.
First, go around the circle, having each person say his or her full name (3 names if possible, emphasizing the rhythm with claps to show where the stresses belong). The next time, go around the circle again and have each person make up a little melody using the three words of his or her name to produce the rhythm and suggest the ups and downs of the way the melody moves. The rest of the group can participate by clapping to the rhythm of each person's name once it has been established.
In order to try the last experiment, the students need to work in pairs. Write the following poem by Christina Rosetti on the board.

What Are Heavy?

What are heavy? Sea-sand and sorrow;
What are brief? Today and tomorrow;
What are frail? Spring blossoms and youth;
What are deep? The ocean and truth.

Each pair stands, and the first of the pair sings the questions, answered by the second person singing in reply. Read the poem aloud to them a few times as they listen. Have the students talk a bit in the group about the meanings and feelings of the words--especially heavy, brief, frail, and deep, and how they may affect the rhythm, melody, dynamics, and tempo of the music they sing. Remind the students to stretch their bodies and clear out all the passages of their "sound boxes" so their music will resonate enough for everyone to hear. Encourage each pair to make up the melodies the way they feel to them, and if they begin simply repeating one another's melodies, make a change of pace by singing something very different for them to free their imaginations to other possibilities. Congratulate them all on the music they've created with their bodies and minds.

Third Grade - Music - Lesson 14 - A Round

Sing "The Alphabet" canon (review from Lesson 11).
Identify note values in "The Donkey."
Note the difference between quarter- and eighth-note rests.
Learn to sing "The Donkey" as a 3-part round.
Make appropriate motions to illustrate donkey ears.

Music for "The Alphabet" (from Lesson 11)
Music for "The Donkey" (attached, for transparency)

Background for Teacher
In Lesson 11, the third graders learned the "Alphabet Canon" to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and sang it as a 2-part round or canon. This time they learn a silly round in three parts. They should be able to have fun with this because of the silly sounds and motions.

Begin the class by having the students sing "The Alphabet" canon from Lesson 11, using the transparency you made to remind them of the music and the words. They should sing it through once in unison (have them tell you what the term means) and then as a two-part canon or round (again, let them define that term).
Next, tell them they are going to learn a three-part canon or round about a donkey. Ask them: Who can demonstrate the kind of sound made by a donkey? (Hee-haw!) Encourage them to make it a shrill, nasal sound and have three or four of them make the sound together, then another small group, and so on until they are all satisfied that it sounds like a real donkey. Next ask them: What about a donkey's ears? How do they look? (They're very long.) Show them how to make donkey's ears by putting thumbs in ears, fingers sticking straight up and close together, then flapping down. Have them all try the motion, then try it while saying "Hee-haw!" (The fingers should be straight up on the first syllable and flapped down on the second.) Have them practice in small groups as with the donkey sound, making the sound and motion "at" each other.
Show them the music for "The Donkey" that you have made into a transparency. Use it first as a review of what they have learned about music notation. Ask them:
What is the first musical sign you see on the music staff? (G-clef)
What are the names of the lines of this music staff, from bottom to top? (E, G, B, D, F)
What are the names of the spaces, from bottom to top? (F, A, C, E)
What is the time, or meter signature? (4/4)
What does that mean? (4 beats to a measure, a quarter note gets one beat)
Are there any quarter notes in the first measure? (yes)
How many do you see in the first measure? (2)
How many in the other measures? (1 in the 2nd measure, 2 in the 3rd measure, 1 in the 4th measure, 2 in the 5th measure, 1 in the last measure)
What are all the other notes you see? (8th notes)
Are they faster or slower than quarter notes? (faster, twice as fast)
What about the squiggly sign at the end of the 2nd measure? (quarter rest)
Do you see any more of those quarter rests? (At the very end of the piece)
Very likely, the students will identify the rests in measures 4 and 5 with the quarter rests. Tell them they are rests that stand in for 8th notes, not quarter notes, which means they are shorter rests that leave just enough time to grab a quick breath before singing those special words. Ask them: What are those special words? (Hee-haw!) It would be helpful to make a large quarter-note rest on the board with its name, then an 8th-note rest with its name so the two shapes are clearly differentiated for the students.
Have them read the words in rhythm as you clap the 4 beats to each measure. This will help them hear the way two 8th notes take up the space of one clap and how they need to "jump in" with their "Hee-haw!" just before a beat each time. (You don't need to explain this in words, but they should hear it if you keep the words in rhythm.)
Point out the little X's marked above the staff that show where they are to put their fingers in their ears and make the motion they have learned. (Obviously, after the first time, they leave their thumbs in their ears and merely bring their fingers back up for each "Hee" and down on the "haw!")
Once they can manage the rhythm speaking the words, have them sing it. Sing each 2-measure phrase for them and let them echo it back to you. When they are able to sing all 3 phrases, sing it all the way through. Show them the numbers 1, 2, and 3, and tell them these numbers mark off the 3 little sections, or phrases in the song. Tell them: We will divide the class into groups, just the way we did for the "Alphabet Canon," only this time there will be 3 groups. When the first group reaches phrase #2, the second group starts the song. When the first group reaches phase #3, the third group begins the song. Watch me, and I'll signal each group to begin by pointing right at you. You know the song now, its rhythm, its noises and motions. Instead of watching the music, now it's time to watch the conductor. Who's the conductor? (teacher)
Divide them into three groups, and be sure each group is standing close together, with some distance between each group. Tell them they are going to sing the whole song through three times. Begin the song, and sing with each group in turn as they come in to get them off to a good start. Signal the first group to stop after they have sung the song 3 times and do the same for each of the other two groups. If the groups arrange themselves as three parts of a circle, or at least a semi-circle, they can be facing one another enough to make the donkey sounds and signs directed at another group, which will make it more fun for them. They should all applaud themselves and each other if they manage to stay with their own groups.