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5 New Singing Games
Singing games are fun for the students and creates the opportunity for multiple repetitions of songs that internalize melodic and rhythmic concepts. Singing games taught to younger grades create a foundation of songs that will be used later to label and practice these concepts.
Include a new singing game in the first half of the music class period. Teach the song, play the game and move on to another activity.
When extracting concepts (either labelling or practicing) play the corresponding familiar singing game to refresh the internalized concepts before working on the targeted rhythmic or melodic element.
Use a familiar singing game as a movement activity and “brain break” closer to the end of your music class lesson plan.
Additional teaching strategies (game instructions, concepts being covered and alternate game options) are included in the PDF download.
I enjoy playing singing games with my students almost as much as they enjoy playing them. They love the games. I love the fact that we can use the foundations they are internalizing to unlock musical concepts allowing musical skills to develop. What a gift it is to be able to teach using such a fun teaching tool.
I decided to start writing some of my own singing games when information started surfacing about songs that should be “retired” because they were no longer appropriate. We are sad to give up the memories of the fun we have had with these songs, but we want to do our best to make good choices for the songs we use with our students. How can we give up those older songs and find something else to use? As a composer, I have the tools to do something about that!
Singing games are an interesting composing project. They need to be simple, they are usually short, and they have limited musical elements that should be included. I think it is similar to writing a good joke. Introduce the topic, set it up, give the punch line and finish! It is a good exercise to compose in this “frugal” manner. I am always grateful for the inspiration my music classroom brings to my writing process and also the opportunities it provides in creating repertoire needs to which I can contribute.
There are singing games that become favourites because it is a great song. Sometimes it is because of the game itself. I chose two songs that were my students’ favourite games and created new songs that worked with those games. I was reluctant to give up the songs as they were ones that worked well with students in upper elementary grades. Teachers know how difficult it is to find just the right song for these older students. The students are really not as interested in the music, they just want to play the game. Armed with my list of musical elements and the games we wanted to continue playing, I created There’s My Chicken (a great chasing game!) and Old Back Door (a dance song). We are all happy to sing and play these new songs.
I composed Owl in the Pine Tree, Open All Your Windows Wide ,and Dogs Hide Bones to add more variety in the simple songs I use with my students to encourage individual singing and the development of pitch matching. Again, the students are just happy to be getting a turn in a singing game while I am intent on sneaking in those melodic concepts that create a foundation for future music activities.
I am delighted to use my composing skills to benefit my students and to facilitate my music program goals.
Composer, Elementary Music Specialist, Performer
Donna Rhodenizer loves playing singing games with her students. In addition to pretending to be a bird flying in and out of windows, an owl hiding in the forest, or a mother chicken calling to her chicks, Donna’s vivid imagination is put to good use composing songs for young singers. She has written over 400 pieces of music in the past four decades and, unless that pesky wolf in the forest causes an early demise, she has plans to write more songs in the future.
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