This Land was Made For You and Me!

I know there have been a lot of things happening in the world right now, and sometimes it can be hard for kids to understand all of it. It’s often hard for adults to understand all of it too, so it’s ok if you feel overwhelmed. I wanted to start today by sharing a video my friend and fellow educator Mrs. Fritz made for her students. She teaches 1st grade, but I think that this video can help all of us as we try to process our feelings about the big things happening in our country.




Now, since this is a music blog after all, let’s learn to sing a protest song that has been around since the 1940s!

You may not even think of this one as a protest song, but the lyrics are all about making a country that belongs to all of us, and it was even used during the Civil Rights movement. Here is the original version of “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.


Woody Guthrie’s America had a lot of problems all at once, and it’s easy to think he must’ve felt a lot like many of us do right now. During Woody Guthrie’s life, there was a big problem in the Great Plains and the Midwest where the wasn’t enough rain for a long time. The soil on the ground blew around in huge dust clouds, destroying people’s homes and endangering their lives. These people tried to move away to California, but they were greeted at the California border by police officers who told them to go away. Meanwhile, in the South, police officers were enforcing unfair Jim Crow laws that kept black and brown people from sharing schools, bathrooms, water fountains, and everything else with white people. On top of all of that, America’s economy was in a Great Depression, which means there weren’t enough jobs for people, and many people were hungry and homeless. Woody Guthrie wrote this song as he traveled around the country seeing all of these big problems.

Woody Guthrie’s friend Pete Seeger brought the song to the Civil Rights Movement. He met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sang some protest songs for him. Dr. King was really struck by the song “We Shall Overcome,” which you can learn all about in my previous post on the song here! Pete Seeger joined Dr. King’s marches, and sang songs like this one to try to help share a message of fairness for everyone. Here’s Pete Seeger singing the song at the “We Are One” concert, celebrating President Obama’s inauguration as our first black president.


In music class, I like to do a comparing and contrasting listening activity about different versions of this song. Can you make a Venn diagram to compare one of the versions above with one of my favorite versions which I’ve posted below? What things are the same? What’s different? (think about the lyrics, the instruments, the style of the music, who is singing, etc.)

Here’s the Sharon Jones version we used on the Venn Diagrams above…it’s a personal favorite of mine and the students can never hold still when we hear it!

Let’s Rap a Book!

Hi friends! Mr. Beekman and I have been loving these Youtube videos of a guy who raps Dr. Seuss books to Dr. Dre beats…do you think you could rap a book? I’ll drop a beat for you to rap to at the bottom. First, here’s an example of rapping the book Fox in Socks:

Here’s a beat from Flocabulary you can use to try rapping one of your books at home!

Let’s Experiment with Chrome Music Lab!

Today is the last day for Elementary Chromebook distribution, so I wanted to remind everyone about one of my very favorite resources on my links tab! Today, I hope you’ll take some time to play with Chrome Music Lab. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like when you go to the site:chromemusiclab


We usually experiment with this site during our 5th grade science of sound unit, but it’s really fun for all ages. Try out all of the different apps and see which one you like best!

Let’s Sing “This Old Man!”

Yesterday, I had the fun chance to be Ms. Wiederkehr’s Monday mystery reader! Reading the book inspired today’s post, you’ll see why when you check out the video here:

Now for the song…can you listen once, then make a list of the numbers and the rhyming words that go with them from memory? Then, try singing it!

Alright, now back to those jazz musicians I was talking about in the book! If you want to learn about the real people we read about, here are the musicians that go with each number, and some links to learn more:

  1. Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong
  2. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
  3. Luciano “Chano” Pozo y Gonzalez
    • For my big kids, learn about Chano Pozo’s home-Havana, Cuba
  4. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington
  5. Charlie “Bird” Parker
  6. Art “Bu” Blakey
  7. John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie
  8. Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller His nickname always makes us giggle! You might recognize the waiter in that clip from’s another clip from the movie that will help. Can you guess who it is now?
  9. Charles “Baron” Mingus

If you want to learn more about jazz history, I really like this playlist of jazz history videos to help you dig a little deeper.

Let’s Look at Melodic Direction!

Hi guys! It was so exciting to see so many Fisher students at our Chromebook distribution yesterday! It’s going to make it so much easier to complete our RPS@Home lessons, and access lots of other educational resources online! Today, I’d like for you to learn a little bit about how melodies can move in music. Melodies can make lots of different shapes. Use your finger to point along with the different shapes in this video. Make sure your finger moves from left to right, because we read melodies the same way we read words in sentences, left to right.

Now that you’ve got the idea, let’s practice singing some melodies with different kinds of movement. I love this silly video to practice, and the dog in it is so cute!

Now, when you listen to music today, can you listen for the direction the notes are moving? I post a lot of listening maps that can help you see the direction while you hear it, so you might try watching these first. Then, as you listen to your favorite kind of music today, as you hear songs on your video games, Youtube videos, tv shows, or movies, see if you can listen closely and draw the shape of the song in the air with your finger. As you watch these listening maps, practice showing the shapes with a finger.

And a fun one for our composer of the month!

Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

Hi friends! It is too beautiful outside to hang out indoors today! It’s supposed to be cool and rainy for the next couple of days, so I hope you’ll spend as much time outside as you can. I am typing this from my backyard right now, and this breeze would be perfect for flying a kite. When you come inside to cool off, try learning to sing the song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite!”

If you haven’t watched the original Mary Poppins movie, maybe you could do that on one of these upcoming rainy days! Here are the song lyrics so you can sing along…

Think about how this song is organized, what happens first? Next? Then?

I hear Verse #1, then a chorus or refrain that will be repeated again later. Next, I hear verse #2, followed by an instrumental interlude. Then, I hear one last chorus or refrain to end the song. Can you make up your own dance moves to show how the song is organized? Remember that is called the song’s FORM.

After singing and dancing, make your own homemade kite to fly today. You can make kites from lots of different things around your house, for example, a garbage bag, paper, newspaper, or whatever other creative ideas you can come up with yourself!

May’s Composer of the Month!

Hi guys! We made it to May! Today, take a look at May’s composer of the month, Ludwig von Beethoven. Be sure to color his picture in your interactive music notebook if you are in K-2nd grade, or you can complete a listening reflection about this piece in your notebook if you’re in 3rd-5th grade.

Here are the 4 facts we would’ve read about him this month:

  1. Beethoven was a composer and pianist born in Bonn, Germany. His dad was very strict, and made Beethoven wake up in the middle of the night to practice music.
  2. Beethoven moved to Vienna, Austria in his 20s, where he became one of the first composers to make a living without working for the church or for royalty.
  3. Beethoven wrote symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and just one opera.
  4. Beethoven began to lose his hearing in his 30s. He wrote some of his most famous pieces when he was almost totally deaf, including his 9th symphony.

Check out this neat listening map that goes with Beethoven’s 9th:

And for my big kids, I can just hear all the questions you have about him bubbling up! This video will give you a little more information about him.

The incredible Kanneh Mason family performed a little bit of Beethoven on a Facebook live concert at home last month, check this out and get inspired to make some music with your family, too!

Let’s Practice Listening!

Hey guys! Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to be super duper quiet and walk around listening to the music of your house. What sounds do you hear? Make sure your feet are really quiet! Listen for the hum of the refrigerator, the creak of the floor, traffic or bird sounds near the window, the sound of the air conditioning,  the click of your family members fingers on their phone/tablet/computer keyboard. You have to be really, really quiet to hear the music of your house, but I know you can do it! Now your ears are ready to hear some living room music. This is a fun piece of music composed by John Cage. John Cage believed that any kind of sound could be used to make beautiful music.

So, now you can create your own living room music! Walk around your home and look for objects you can tap with your hands or a spoon from the kitchen to make different sounds. Remember that something big would be good for a low sound, and something small and metal would be great to tap with a metal spoon to get a nice higher sound. Play around with your objects and your voice, to create your living room music. Take it a step further by writing down your composition-you don’t have to use real notes, you can draw pictures of the objects in the order you want them played. Remember that rests are important, too, so draw a squiggle like a lightening bolt if you want to add some space in between your sounds.

I want my big kids to try out a game to work on your listening skills, too. It’s tough, but I know you are up for the challenge! Click here to visit the Music Memory game.You’ll need to enable Adobe Flash Player and be sure  you have your ad blocking turned off for that page to get started. Be sure you take a few minutes to click on the different note buttons first and get used to how they sound…don’t click the start button until you’ve sung them going up and down and trying out different combinations of notes! Singing them is really important.

Let’s Learn About Mariachi Music!

Hey guys! Today I have a story and a new genre of music for us to learn about. I’ve been spending a lot of time practicando mi Español on the DuoLingo app, which inspired me to read this book to you today! I used to “play” DuoLingo with students at van dismissal, and I totally recommend it if your bigger kids want to learn a new language during this crazy time.

Happy Earth Day!

Hi guys! Today is Earth Day, so I walked up and down my block to collect litter this morning. I filled up a grocery bag full of trash, check it out:


After that, I joined a Zoom chat with some of my Kindergarten friends, and one of them taught us to make masks from cardboard and items we found in nature! Look how awesome they turned out!


Let’s keep the Earth Day fun going with some songs about our amazing planet! Try singing these today! Can you make up some dance moves to go with one of these songs?