Our theme this term is The Wild West, which includes pieces that have always been popular with our harmonauts. It’s a great way to celebrate the American Songbook, and also to explore worldwide musical traditions. While we work on our study pieces, we will also investigate our musical element topic, which is timbre (or tone).
With help from their Harp Academy teacher, children in KS2 will select Songs of the West from our KS2 Music Library. Pre-School, Reception and KS1 children will continue to focus on KS1 Book 1, but will also work on some of the easier Western material from our KS1 Music Library. Home support pages for all our songs are available to subscribers in the KS1 and KS2 Music Libraries on this site. Our favourites include the Theme from The Magnificent 7, Apache, Ring of Fire, Streets of Laredo, Red River Valley, Buffalo Gals, Jambalaya, You Are My Sunshine, Ghost Riders in the Sky and On Top of Old Smokey.
What is timbre, or tone? Children will learn to identify and distinguish the voices of different musical instruments and describe their qualities. They will also explore depth and variety of tone on the harmonica, applying these to their playing and learning how tone affects expression and the character of music.
Staccato and legato are central to good breath control on the harmonica. Children will learn to include smooth, sustained notes, and short repeat notes in their phrasing. We will also 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. KS2 children will continue to explore note-bending skills.
As appropriate, KS2 children will be encouraged to improvise using our Harp Academy’s popular backing tracks. Groups may also compose their own songs while exploring our tempo theme.
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. In the summer term, children will be invited to join us on the Kids’ Stage at Paddle Round The Pier on Saturday 6th July.
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