Our theme this term is Classical Music, with some great new pieces for our harmonauts to enjoy, and some old favourites of course. Learning classical repertoire is a great way to strengthen musical foundations, expand our vocabulary and harness important performance principles. While we work on our study pieces, we will also investigate our musical element topic, which is dynamics.
With help from their Harp Academy teacher, children in KS2 will select classical pieces from KS2 Music Library, or from their teacher’s classical catalogue. Pre-School, Reception and KS1 children will focus on KS1 Book 1 with an emphasis on our classical tracks, and will also work on classical material from our KS1 Music Library.
What is dynamics? Children will learn standard notation and terminology to bring light and shade into their playing. The two main building blocks are piano and forte, and degrees of both these devices. However, we sometimes have to change between the two, introducing the concept of crescendo and diminuendo. More information here.
Legato and staccato are central to good breath control and expression on the harmonica. Children will learn to include smooth sections in their playing, with longer sustained notes. They will also learn how to articulate short repeat notes, with varying dynamics. We will keep an eye on posture and how we hold the harmonica; there is a conventional way of using both hands, which facilitates further technical skills. Longer-serving KS2 children will continue to develop their note-bending skills.
Children are encouraged to identify and talk about dynamics in songs or music they personally enjoy, and how this adds to the character of a piece of music.
Performance is a powerful device for building self-identity and a sense of worth. Our chosen pieces will help build key performance skills. Where feasible, we will end our term with a playback in school assembly. We are also running a Children’s Workshop on Sunday 9th February, 10.30am to 1.00pm at The Brunswick in Hove, with Joe Filisko from Chicago (USA).
Waking Up Wendell – April Stevens
This is a really funny book, with some crazy characters and noises. We particularly enjoyed Henry Hobart Whittlespoon who lives at No.5 Fish Street. What do you think his favourite musical instrument might be, and why does he have a book by his bed called The Blues?
A perfect bedtime story book, children and parents will really enjoy reading this together. Waking Up Wendell is published by Schwartz Wade books (ISBN 978-0-375-83621-3). Illustrations by Tad Hills (illustrator of Duck & Goose books). Buy at Amazon UK
The Cello of Mr.O – Jane Cutler
We absolutely adore this book! In a war-torn city, a little girl struggles with many emotions. Her father is away fighting, there is no heating oil, and food is scarce.
Each afternoon, in full view of snipers and amidst the bomb bursts, Mr.O sits in the square and plays his Cello. Until one day a shell destroys his instrument. Undaunted, he returns to play tunes on his harmonica. Through Mr.O’s music, the little girl learns to confront fear and build courage. The Cello of Mr.O is published by Dutton Children’s Books (ISBN 0-525-46119-1) and illustrated by Greg Crouch. Buy at Amazon UK