Music class is not just about singing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Oct. 20, 2005

It&8217;s about this time of year that containing a classroom of 20-plus children takes on a new level of difficulty.

There&8217;s loads of candy, school holidays and presents all in sight, and the energy level only escalates daily from now until the Christmas holidays.

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Who can blame them? Two of the three upcoming holidays rank tops on the favorite charts for most kids. And the world around them does it&8217;s best to hype them up.

Monday, it was Halloween music that did the trick (or treat!).

After a round of naming their favorite type of candy, the fourth-graders were asked to showcase their dance moves to learn a new song in music class.

Now, I&8217;m having a hard time recalling any of the Halloween songs I sang in school, but I&8217;m fairly sure this wasn&8217;t one of them. I guess music is something else that evolves with the times.

In the song, Igor &8212; Frankenstein&8217;s little helper &8212; goes into some sort of trance and breaks into wild and crazy dance moves. Right, because kids need another excuse to jump around and be hyper at this time of year.

Things start off slow with a little shoulder shrugging (shrug became a vocabulary lesson for some of the kids), and escalate to full-blown robot moves.

That &8217;80s band Styx could take a few robot lessons from Tristan Cameron, Ayana Larry and D&8217;Elvenney Berry. Those kids have some moves.

Teaching across the curriculum is an education term that gained strength when state and national testing upped the ante. It means reading teachers should include some math word problems in their lessons, science teachers should social studies facts to make their points and elective teachers should incorporate all other subjects into what they do.

Melissa Upchurch&8217;s music class was a cross between language arts and P.E. Monday.

The kids were on their feet more than half the class period moving their arms and legs and getting a fairly intense workout.

And the insanity and ugly little picture of Igor provided for a brief lesson on fact or fiction.

Music class isn&8217;t just about singing anymore.

Surely unknown to them, the kids also practiced study techniques and memory recall while learning the notes of the treble clef.

Ms. Upchurch reviewed two mnemonic devices to remember the notes, Every Good Boy Does Fine for the lines on the scale and FACE for the spaces.

And she also taught them how to use their hands &8212; because they&8217;ll always have them &8212; to create the scale.

The five fingers are the lines, the space between the fingers, the spaces.

The kids who proved good knowledge of the scale were chosen as group leaders to quiz their classmates on the material before an ultimate face-off of musical wits &8212; boys versus girls tic-tac-toe.

The team that correctly named the line or space on the scale placed their X or O accordingly. The girls won, of course, 2-0. Sorry boys, you&8217;ve got to step it up.

Julie Finley is the education reporter for The Natchez Democrat. She writes a weekly column based on experiences with Marty Tuccio&8217;s homeroom class at McLaurin Elementary. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or