Saturday, December 17, 2011

Braindance: The whole brain/body experience

When we learn, each of us will prefer to process new information through one of our senses.

Take the example of learning a dance routine:

VISUAL learners need to see the dance performed or look at the directions before trying the steps.

AUDITORY learners need to hear the directions and will usually say the directions to themselves as they do the steps.

KINESTHETIC learners need to actually go through the steps and “feel” what the dance is like.

Most teachers are not connecting with a large percentage of their audience in their presentations.

Research shows that 40% are visual learners, 40% are auditory and the remaining 20% are primarily kinesthetic.

Learning is dependent on the strategy used in the way the material is presented. A teacher usually teaches the way he/she was taught or in the style that he/she learns. Now if the style of the learner and teacher matches - SUCCESS! Mostly they are mismatched and the student feels comes out the loser, not the teacher.

Teachers need to learn to teach in a variety of styles to reach every student - sounds hard but isn’t really.

Have you ever noticed how talk show hosts, radio announcers and motivational speakers inject sound effects and music into their programs?

David Letterman uses effects from Paul Shaeffer’s band and the sound of glass breaking when he throws a card away.

Since I began noticing sound effects in presentations, a lot more stand out, from the voices of celebrities saying things which are taken out of context on purpose (MAKE MY DAY!), to song clips which can underline your message with humor.

If you even uttered a chuckle or tiny snicker, then the effect registered in your brain and at the same time the presenter’s message.

Years ago I produced a "Braindance Sound Effects" CD in the studio and a guide to accompany the CD. I sold a lot of copies. I have now turned this into 95 high quality MP3 files to accompany the book.

My book will give you the chance to address your students or audience with a greater impact on their listening and learning. I will provide you with useful examples for your next presentation. Try out a few sounds and soon you will be on your way.


The 29-page guide Braindance Presenter's Guide (in PDF format) and accompanying 95 Braindance Sound Effects (in MP3 format) can be purchased and downloaded online as one package from TeachersPayTeachers. A free preview download is also available.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flashmob Dance at the 2011 PITA Fall Conference

I recently presented FLASHMOB DANCE at the BC Provincial Intermediate Teachers’ Association (PITA) Fall Conference.

What? You haven’t done a flashmob dance with your students? This is the Eurovision Flashmob Dance called Glow done in 2010 all over Europe. If you missed my presentation you may download my Flashmob summary. Contact me if you would like me to assist your school on putting on such an event.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Power of RAP: Write Your Own RAPS

I developed this teaching unit a number of years ago in response to my students' request to "do rap" in music class. I created a guide to help students and teachers write a rap to help remember facts and rules. It is designed to be user-friendly and fun!

The lessons should carry you through an eight week period but could also springboard into many other areas such as song and poetry writing and creative movement.  The lessons refer to our accompanying 20 RAP TRACKS (in MP3 format) and also outline rules for rapping.

Rules For Writing A Rap

  • Select a topic. This should be general to start with; the title will be selected after the rap is finished.
  • Start writing down everything that comes into your head in sentence fragments and single words. Working with a partner or doing a few together in class will help get you started.
  • Select or circle the thoughts that you want in your rap. Remember to make every word count. Try to use "FAT" words (words that are very descriptive). e.g. scamper instead of run.  
  • Write in rhyming couplets when in the beginning stages; later you can encourage them to rhyme within the line.
  • MOST IMPORTANT! Rap is done in 4/4 metre; count 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 when listening to the accompaniment tracks. When you start to write, feel the metre in your head.  NOTE: Rap cannot be written in any other metre.
  • Select the background that feels most comfortable; try a few different styles and tempos.
  • Add a chorus or repeated section that will be said or sung by a group or the whole class. This adds variety to the composition.
  • Have Fun!
The lessons will guide your and your students through the process of writing a practice rap; writing a commercial rap; and writing an info rap (based on facts you want to remember).  Rap music is a great way to involve all of the kids in your class, regardless of music ability.

A Couple Practice Raps

You can say it slow; you can say it fast,
Rap can be a story and it can last and last
Making a rap can be real tough
Even though we think about a lot of stuff
Rapping should have a steady beat
1 - 2 - 3 - 4, make it sound neat!

Come take a rap of any kind
Slow or fast, I don’t mind
To the beat it has to be
With a theme, that’s the key
That’s the way, say no more
I hope you’ve learned a lot from my rhyme
So come again and say it one more time!

The 30-page guide The Power of Rap (in PDF format) and accompanying Rap Backing Tracks (in MP3 format) can be purchased and downloaded online as one package from TeachersPayTeachers.  A free preview is also available.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Music in the Classroom (for Non-Music Teachers)

We all know how music can affect the way we feel. Subconsciously, we play music to uplift our mood, dance, or help us relax. Music can invoke powerful memories and help “set the scene” for our life experiences. Research supports the concept that – “Music can greatly enhance our learning and living.”
Why is it that teachers use music in their personal lives but fail to realize the importance it can have in the classroom?
The intentional use of music in the classroom can set the scene for learning and also make it more fun and interesting.
My suggestion for you to get started is to incorporate one technique that makes you say, “I can do that!” The enthusiasm and response from your students will be a guideline and incentive to try more.
Side effects of using music:
As you begin to use music, you may find that students want to share parts of their life triggered by the music. When this happens, notice and celebrate the connections to real life experiences. Expect and enjoy the miracles that will occur!
Reasons to use music for learning:
ü      Music establishes a positive learning state.
ü      Music creates a desired atmosphere.
ü      Music can help build a sense of anticipation.
ü      Music can add energy to activities.
ü      Music can change brain wave states.
ü      Music can help focus concentration.
ü      Music can increase attention.
ü      Music can improve memory.
ü      Music adds another sensory dimension.
ü      Music can help release tension.
ü      Music can release imagination.
ü      Music can be used to form groups.
ü      Music can improve community spirit.
ü      Music can inspire and motivate.
ü      Music adds the element of fun.
ü      Music can add a layer to theme-based units.
There are many ways, each with a repertoire of classroom techniques, that can be used easily by anyone. You don’t need to be a musician and all ages and levels will experience an increase in the joy of learning by adding music to your lessons.
Try this:
Write or find a poem that you can say to a steady beat of 1-2-3-4.
Example (from The Power of Rap by Barbara Feuring) :
emphasize the underlined words
There are many ways that we are smart
To teach these ways is indeed an art
But if you want to reach ev’ry lad and lass
You’ll use these ways as you teach your class.
Have students clap, step, snap or pat the steady beat while saying the poem. Students can write their own alone or in groups and perform for the rest of the class. It can be about something you are learning in class.
Each student or group can teach their “rap” to the rest of the class. If the students want to add mouth sounds, then someone else can say the words. Most important – keep a steady beat of 1-2-3-4.
For more ideas on how to use music in the classroom you may download my free book (in PDF format) titled The “Sound” Classroom -- Introduction to Whole Brain Learning and Using Sound and Music to Enhance Learning in the Classroom.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Introduction to the "Sound" Classroom

The future is here already.  Education has to make dramatic changes to the way students’ experience “school”, compared to the classrooms we know of yesterday and today.

By reading and using the information in this book, your students will get a chance to use ‘whole brain’ learning, a method which recognizes that teaching to both hemispheres of the brain is equal and necessary for a complete education. Your vision, like mine, can enable us to make a difference and make our schools better than our wildest dreams.

I hope this book adds a new dimension to your present knowledge of music, Imagine holding a prism to the sun and watching the colors change as you move it. The “SOUND” CLASSROOM will encourage you to view the use of music from a different angle, to improve your teaching and, more importantly, your students’ learning. We have always known the power that music has over our physical and mental states - from improving digestion to getting our heart pumping through aerobic exercise. There is NO substitute for well-chosen music to affect our state of being.

I plan to discuss how you can use music in the classroom both as a relaxant and a stimulant to achieve greater results - for focus and concentration, for controlling physical and mental energy, for increased coordination, performance ability and more.

Music is all around us but in general, our knowledge of its connections to our lives is at an all-time low!

As I work with young children and have used some of the techniques I have been amazed at how their focus and enjoyment has increased over a short period of time. I invite you to try some of the ideas suggested in the following pages and to share your findings.

I do not pretend to be an expert, only a teacher who realizes that music and creative thinking is the key to giving our children and future leaders the edge they will need to shape fulfilling lives.

I urge you to become familiar with such innovative artists as Vangelis, Yanni, Medwyn Goodall, and Stephen Halpern, who give us music that is stimulating, uplifting and in tune with heart and soul.