Got a musical family? Then our summery songs and music activities may help you share music with family and friends during the summer break. Activities are suggested with voices and simple instruments.There’s a song to keep the children creatively engaged, improvising new lyrics, during long journeys, rounds to sing in unison or in parts, and an arrangement of Schubert’s exhilarating “To Wander” with new lyrics. Words and melodies of all the songs can be downloaded from the “Summer Fun” page and, if you have more able instrumentalists in the family circle, full ensemble parts can be purchased from the “Miscellaneous Music” page. We are in the process of changing the way our music is streamed and tunes on the “Summer Fun” page now play on iPad. Lyrics can be viewed online . Please let us know if you have trouble viewing any of the files.
2-chord tunes are a wonderful resource for a creative approach to music teaching! A vast number of melodies can be harmonised with just chords I and V – folk tunes, of course, but also melodies by major composers. See the teacher notes for a classroom project based on “Carnival of Venice”, which can be downoaded from our Easy/Classroom Ensembles page. This uses classroom, or other available, instruments and body percussion. In my software package, GridPlay: Creative Explorations Level 2, though, one of the fifteen grids (mini-apps) is IVTUNES, in which I’ve designed a self-contained resource for exploring the subject. Teacher notes in the accompanying e-book make it even easier for a non-specialist teacher to introduce a project, with suggestions for using the computer as an integrated classroom resource.
A first step to improvising and composing 2-chord melodies is aural recognition of the chord changes. In IVTUNES, I have designed a grid with which pupils can practise this skill. Words, music and chord symbols for these tunes are included in the e-book. As each tune plays back, accompaniment patterns based on the the two chords can be triggered, allowing experimentation until pupils are confident that all sounds right. Beneath each chord’s accompaniments, cells contain individual notes of the chord, stacked vertically. Pupils can use these chord tones to accompany one of the melodies. Later they can record a 2-chord backing track over which to improvise their own melodies.
In the present economic climate many of you amateur musicians may be thinking twice about booking summer school courses next year. Perhaps you can be tempted, though, by the short courses offered by the Benslow Music Trust. These include weekend and mid-week courses in a wide and extremely imaginative range of musical knowledge and skills. In the 2008-2009 list, three creative music opportunities particularly took my eye:
“Fruit salad with Sambuca: Recorders, flutes, guitars, lutes…
Michael Copley, Peter Martin
9-11 January, 2009
Working with source music ranging from Balkan folk music to baroque sonatas and of various types, including chord symbols, keyboard scores and figured bass, you will go through the process of arranging new music from original score through to performance….”
“Composing for Amateurs
27 February -1 March
Composers young or old, interested in exploring the exciting world of contemporary music are invited to participate in this course. The programme will involve developing new skills using traditional notation as well as exploring various contemporary techniques and practices such as graphic notation. The course is open to instrumentalists and vocalists from a moderate standard upwards….”
“Compose a New Musical
Compose a new musical from scratch and learn more about songwriting and composing for the theatre… After group songwriting workshops and individual composition and tutorial time, the course will culminate in a read and sing through of the resulting new musical….”
Each of the above courses costs less than £200. Resident. For further details visit www.benslow.org, or telephone 01462 459446.