Our theme this term is Reggae and Ska, with some great new pieces for our harmonauts to enjoy and some old favourites. Learning Reggae and Ska is a great way to appreciate note duration, syncopation and rhythm. Reggae and Ska are an uplifting and integral part of the UK and international music heritage. While we work on our study pieces, we will investigate our musical element topic, note duration, with a focus on syncopation and rhythm. Children can also investigate the First Steps in Reggae page in our Key Stage Music Libraries.
KS1 players will work on items from Book 1, including This Old Man played to a reggae beat. KS2 players will be working on Reggae and Ska pieces including One Love, Pass The Dutchie, Enjoy Yourself, My Boy Lollipop and 10/10, as well as repertoire to compliment personal interest or school projects.
What is duration? Harmonica arrow tabs tell us which holes to use and whether to blow or draw. However, they don’t really tell us how long to hold our notes, when to rest, or how to play phrases. For this reason we sometimes add song lyrics underneath the tabs to indicate how a tune flows. Learning note and rest symbols, counting bars and understanding time signatures are valuable skills for any musician to acquire.
We don’t have to become fluent sight readers, but an understanding of the principals means we can communicate with other musicians more comfortably and appreciate music at a whole new level.
Breath control is the foundation of playing long notes, repeated notes, and note combinations. We will work on ways to develop a deeper understanding of our breathing and how to manage it. Slide notes, push-pull notes, jump notes and repeat notes are the core movements on a harmonica. Children will be encouraged to identify and use these in their playing. 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 develop their note-bending skills, cross-harp, pentatonic and blues scale capabilities.
Children will learn to identify note and rest values in our study pieces, along with time signatures and rhythm. They will be encouraged to identify reggae and ska songs from radio, TV and film, as well as investigate the First Steps in Reggae page in our music library.
Performance is a powerful device for building self-identity and a sense of worth. We often perform playbacks in school assembly and school events. We also play in public with children from all our schools at the following annual events:
• December : Royal Alex Children’s Hospital
• February : Harpin’ By The Sea international harmonica festival
• May : Brighton Festival
• July : Paddle Round The Pier beach festival
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