Note to the Teacher
The BCP/Core lessons for Kindergarten include the words for "Kum Ba Ya" as part of Music Lesson 9. Since the fourth graders have just studied about West Africa in History and Art, they will learn the song again, this time using the music notation. So far this year they have produced harmony only inadvertently, by singing rounds; in this lesson they will learn to sing "Kum Ba Ya" in two-part harmony.
Locate Nigeria in West Africa.
Sing a folk song whose melody comes from Nigeria.
Recall the meaning of the musical term harmony.
Sing "Kum Ba Ya" in simple two-part harmony.
Classroom-size map of modern Africa or of the world
Music and words to "Kum Ba Ya" in two parts, for transparency and for each student (attached)
Start the class by asking: The name of what country in West Africa, south of the Sahara Desert, begins with the letter N? (Nigeria) Have someone point it out on the map. Tell the students the song they will learn today is African American folk song, and its melody originally came from Nigeria.
Write on the board Come By Here and, next to it, Kum Ba Ya. Pronounce the two phrases in a way that shows their relationship -- and that they both mean the same thing. Have the students take turns saying both phrases slowly, trying deliberately to make the second a variation of the first. If they have trouble understanding how this happens, demonstrate for them how people from different parts of the country pronounce things differently. (For example, show them how a person whose family had lived in Boston for many generations would pronounce words differently from someone who had always lived in North Carolina; remind them of the way many Baltimoreans pronounce the word Baltimore. Tell them that the phrase Kum Ba Ya has a nice, musical sound, and the words stuck with the song.
Ask whether anyone knows the song. (Remind them that they may have learned to sing it in Kindergarten or even outside of school.) Have those who know the song sing it through with you for the rest of the class. Then tell them: Today we will all sing the song together, in unison, and then you are going to learn to sing it in two-part harmony. (Write the words unison and harmony on the board.) Ask someone to read the two words and give definitions for them. (Unison means everyone playing or singing exactly the same notes at the same time. Harmony means two or more different notes sounding at the same time and making sense together.) Ask them: What about "Evening Bells" and "Dona Nobis Pacem"? Did we sing those in unison? (learned in unison, then sang as rounds, which means singing the same notes but not at the same time) Tell them that singing songs as rounds is actually one way to produce harmony. With "Kum Ba Ya" the students will learn two different parts and then put them together.
Project Part I of "Kum Ba Ya" on the overhead and teach the song in four phrases to everyone. Ask them:
the time signature (4/4)
how many beats in each measure (4)
Fourth Grade - Music - Lesson 15 - Singing in Harmony
what kind of note gets one beat (quarter note)
any sharps or flats (no)
When they all know the melody, divide the class into two groups and
pass out copies of the music, Parts I and II. Show them that Part I is
the same melody they have just learned. Tell them that Part II is only
a little different, but it's the part that is really responsible for making
the harmony. Have them all put down Part I and sing Part II, dividing it
in four phrases as you did with Part I. When you feel they are secure about
Part II, divide the class into two groups, making sure you have some singers
who sounded particularly strong on Part II in that group. Remind them of
the names they learned (Music Lesson Two, Vocal Ranges) for the highest
part (soprano) and the middle part (alto), and tell them they can think
of Part I as the soprano part and Part II as the Alto part.
Have the students stand with their group, and make some distance between the two groups for your self to stand. Have them fold their papers in half horizontally so that the music for Part I is on one side; music for Part II, on the other. Be sure they understand that the first group sings Part I and the second group sings Part II. They will begin singing the same two notes; the two parts diverge after that, and you will probably need to help Part II not to get dragged into the melody part of Part I. Use as much hand and body language as you can to help them along. They should be surprised and pleased at the harmony they produce.
Fourth Grade - Music - Lesson 16 - Mozart's Magic Flute
Note for the Teacher
The revised Core Knowledge Sequence (1997) recommends selections from Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute, for Fourth Grade Music, and we include the recommended pieces in this lesson within a sense of the opera as a whole.
Recall the term opera.
Recall musical terms designating some high and low vocal ranges.
Listen to selections from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute.
Biographical material about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, see Suggested Books
Recording of selections from The Magic Flute, see Suggested Recording
Mozart, The Magic Flute, Naxos CD 8.660030-1
Several of the songs recommended from The Magic Flute are on Vozart Concert in Vienna, Naxos CD 8.550866
Mozart, The Magic Flute (Highlights) Naxos CD 8.553438.
Downing, Julie. Mozart Tonight. New York: Bradbury Press, 1991.
Illustrated with watercolor paintings by the author, this biographical storybook is told in the first person, through the voice of Mozart himself, looking back on his life.
Isadora, Rachel. Young Mozart. New York: Viking, 1997.
Easily read by 4th graders, this storybook first biography gives them a good sense of how precocious Mozart was -- writing music at age 4, before he could read words, and teaching himself to play the violin well enough at age 5 to be sent on a performing tour with his older sister.
Kaufmann, Helen. The Story of Mozart. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1955.
This biography holds up well in spite of its age. It is a chapter book, very accessible, and
full of lively dialog that brings Wolfgang and his family to life.
Switzer, Ellen. The Magic of Mozart. New York: Atheneum, 1995.
An extensive biographical section, best suited for reading aloud by the teacher, opens this book. What follows is a group of photographs that show a performance of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute by puppets of the Salzburger Marionettentheater. This includes a telling of the story of the opera as well as interesting brief descriptions of the several different kinds of puppets and marionettes made and manipulated by puppeteers.
Thompson, Wendy. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. New York: Viking, 1990.
Part of a British series called "Composer's World," this book is filled with archival photographs and reproductions of contemporary paintings. The text may be difficult for most 4th graders, but it is a good student reference book. A carefully marked map shows the routes of Mozart's major performing tours. Also included is a simply written List of Works and a helpful Glossary of Musical Terms relevant to Mozart's compositions.
Hirsch, E. D., Jr., ed. What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know. New York: Delta, 1993.
Although this is Hirsch's 5th Grade guide, pp. 233 and 234 contain good information on Mozart, useful for teaching this lesson.
Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute, The Music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, VHS Bel Canto 2351.
A thoroughly enchanting version of the opera, filmed by Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. It takes about 2 1/4 hours to view and is filled with wonderful faces, people playing dragons and other animals, and beautiful singing. Filmed in Swedish with English subtitles.
If you did not already do so for Music Lesson 6, reading one of the Suggested Books aloud would be a good way for the students to learn about Mozart's life. If you need to review information about the composer's life for the students, tell them that Mozart was born in 1756 in Salzburg to a family that loved music. Mozart's father Leopold was a composer and violin teacher; Mozart's sister, Nannerl, was a piano prodigy as a child and held promise as a composer until that activity was frowned upon by Leopold. The Archbishop of Salzburg became their patron, enabling both children to travel and perform at an early age. The girl was a keyboard player; Wolfgang played both violin and keyboards. They traveled with their father to Paris and London several times when Wolfgang was between 7 and 10 years old, by which time he had already written several compositions.
The next Archbishop of Salzburg was less sympathetic to Mozart, and so he sought patronage elsewhere. In Italy he received commissions for operas; in Germany he found some precarious and brief employment with various patrons who had need of music for church or court. The last ten years of his life were extremely difficult, in spite of the fact that his music had achieved some renown. He was largely without patrons and supported himself by giving lessons and playing in public as much as possible. He died when he was only 35 years old and was buried in a common pauper's grave, having written some of the most brilliant symphonies, chamber music, operas, and concertos the world had ever known. The Magic Flute is one of the last works Mozart wrote. It was given its first performance in Vienna in September 1791, just a few months before Mozart died.
Having reminded the students about Mozart's life and the music of his they have already heard (sections of Clarinet Concerto, Horn Concerto, Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik), tell them that they are going to hear some music from an opera of Mozart's. Tell them that Mozart wrote the opera in the last year of his life, and its name in English is The Magic Flute. Mozart wrote the opera in German, and its title in German is Die Zauberflöte. Ask them: What is a good definition of opera? (play in which all or most of the text is sung; orchestra accompanies the actors; music as important as the words) In this kind of German opera, there are some parts that are spoken as well as sung, and the students will hear a little of that in one of the comic exchanges between Papageno and Papagena.
Say to the students: There are really two magical instruments in this
opera -- a magic flute and a magical set of bells, or glockenspiel (remind
them it is part of the percussion family and show a picture if you have
one). These two instruments sound very different from the regular instruments
of the orchestra playing the music, and you will be able to pick them out
easily. They are given to the main character, the hero of the opera, named
Tamino, and to his companion, whose name is Papageno. Tamino needs the
magic flute to help him pass through some terribly difficult ordeals that
test his courage, his honesty, his loyalty, and his faith. Papageno is
a comic character, a bird catcher. He himself is dressed in feathers, carrying
a bird cage, and mainly looking around for a wife while he's helping Tamino.
(If you have access to the Switzer book, there is a full retelling of the
story of the opera for reading aloud to the class.)
The following are the songs from the opera that will appeal to the students the most. They are listed with brief descriptions and the amount of listening time they take.
1. Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja, in Act I, the second
aria, takes about 2 2 minutes.
This very playful song is sung by Papageno, telling that he is a merry bird catcher who wishes he had a net for catching a pretty girl for himself so he could have a wife. The students will be able to hear a rustic-sounding flute, or Pan pipe, playing by itself at the ends of all the phrases. Papageno has a baritone voice, which the students learned is the middle range of a man's voice, between a tenor and a bass (Music Lesson Two, Vocal Ranges).
2. O zittre nicht - Zum Leiden bin ich auserkoren, in Act I,
aria by the Queen of the Knight, takes about 5 minutes to play.
In this aria, the Queen of the Night tells the hero, Tamino, the sad story of how her beautiful daughter, Pamina, was taken from her. She appeals to Tamino to rescue Pamina. The Queen of the Night has the very highest kind of soprano voice, and during the last part of the song she sings some amazing high notes, the very highest pitches possible for a soprano.
3. Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen - Da bin ich schon,
halfway through Act II, aria by Papageno & then brief exchange with
Papagena disguised as an ancient crone, takes about 6 2
The students will hear Papageno singing about how much he needs and wants a wife. At the ends of the verses of his song, they will hear him play the magic glockenspiel, which sounds like tinkling bells. In the last 2 minutes, Papagena enters disguised as an old crone and speaks to Papageno in a witch-like, funny voice in order to test him.
4. Pa-pa-gena! - Pa-pa-geno!, part of the Finale, sung by Papageno
and Papagena, takes less than 3 minutes.
This is the most playful of all the songs, playing with the names in a very rapid-fire duet between Papageno, the bird catcher, and his soon-to-be-mate, Papagena, with plans for all the little boys and girls they will someday have (Papagenos and Papagenas).
5. Die Strahlen der Sonne vertreiben die Nacht, the last song,
sung by Sarastro, high priest of the gods, and the chorus and soloists,
takes 32 minutes.
Sarastro, a real bass, which the students know is the lowest of the male voices, introduces this final number in the opera. It is serious and expansive, opening with the lines "The Sun's golden glory has conquered the Night:/Original Darkness gives way to the Light." The students will hear the chorus singing in harmony and a very prominent tympani part.