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Teaching the Dulcimer
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Resources

Below are some links to resources that I have found useful for music programs for young children.

For  music listening:

For children under six years of age, children need an opportunity to listen to a wide variety of music from different periods, styles, and regions of the world.  Initially, music should be chosen because it has stood the test of time and is considered a "classic" for its genre.  It also should be something the teacher enjoys and believes the children will enjoy.  However, it is important to watch children's reaction to the music.  If children do not respond well to the music, it should be removed and something else should be tried.

In general adults have many stereotypes about children's likes and dislikes.  We should not limit children by our preconceived ideas of what they will like or not like.  Children tend to like what they know.  However, that does not mean that it is the only thing we should provide to them. 

Older children have begun to identify with the models to which they have been exposed.  This means they can react negatively to things to which they are not familiar.  The question then arises as to how to approach  extending the range of music they enjoy.  Essentially, music is an experience.  In order to broaden the experiences children will enjoy, the process involves helping children develop a number of abilities.  The abilities are grouped around the abilities a person needs to appreciate:
 
1)  what the composer has done,
2)  what the performer is doing,
3)  and the quality of the sound of the instruments or group of instruments.

This is an  experiential approach. Helping children develop the ability to hear differences in quality of sound, in phrasing, etc., helps them experience a performance more fully.  It is fun to listen to several different performances of the same piece and ask students to consider which one they like best and why.  Why does it make greater emotional sense?  What qualities give it emotional meaning?

Today, we are fortunate that teachers and parents can have access to vast libraries of music which can be easily accessed from Amazon.com and from Apple's iTunes and other online resources and local stores.  Most vendors supply compilations of  music organized by country, by period or style, or by composer.  Also, it is easy utilizing Google, or Bing, to search online for a timeline of music, a list of great composers, or other search category.  Most online sources provide an ability to hear portions of any musical selection.  Sometimes it is possible to search for a selection on YouTube and hear longer excerpts of well known pieces. 

Initially, the teacher researches music to find examples to place in a classroom music library.  Later, older children can be engaged in a group project to research the periods, styles, and composers of music and organize them on a timeline in a computer.  Representative selections of music can be chosen to place on the timeline.

For Dancing:

I recommend:

1)  letting the children dance and move freely to music.  It is beneficial to let children independently choose from music the teacher has made available in addition to the teacher making a choice of music for a community dancing.
2)  change the music to require different steps like walking steps, marching, running steps, gallops, or skipping.
3)  Introduce singing and rhythm activities where children put movements to accompany words of songs.
4)  introduce singing and dancing games like "Ring Around the Rosey," or "London Bridge is Falling Down."  The children sing to accompany their movements. 
5)  providing a group activity where the teacher leads children in simple movements like holding hands in a line and moving forward and backward and then forming a snake and moving around and eventually forming a circle.  The circle can go clockwise and then shift to counter clockwise.  You can then break the circle and re-form a line.  It is fun to make things up as you go along.  A line moves forward with each individual standing up straight and then moves back with everyone bowing down as they move back or vice-versa. 
6)  Begin to introduce simple folk dances, line dances, square dances, circle dances, etc..
7)  Introduce ballroom dancing. 
 
The following are the books and resources I recommend for dancing:

From the New England Dancing Masters - http://www.dancingmasters.com/store/index.html

I recommend:

1)  Instructional Video:  The Chimes of DunKirk: Teaching Dance to Children  (This is the dance DVD).  This is really excellent and very helpful.
2)  The Chimes of DunKirk:  Teaching Dance to Children (This is the book with instructions,  printed music, and background information).  Be sure to also get the CD which contains music to which your students can dance.  The Book, DVD, and CD are all very valuable.
3)  Sashay the Donut: Even more dances for just about anyone.  (Get both the book and CD)
4)  Listen to the Mockingbird:  More Great Dances for Children, Schools, and Communities  (Get both the book and CD)
5)  Jump Jim Joe:  Great Singing Games for Children (Get both the book and CD)
6)  Down in the Valley:  More Great Singing Games for Children. (Get both the book and CD)

Two other resources are:

120 Singing Games and Dances for Elementary Schools by Lois Choksy and David Brummitt.  http://www.amazon.com/Singing-Games-Dances-Elementary-Schools/dp/0136350380/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315377334&sr=8-1

Traditional Barn Dances Calls & Fiddling.  This contains some good simple dances and a very helpful video glossary.  http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Barn-Dances-Calls-Fiddling/dp/0736076123/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314158127&sr=8-1


For Singing:

Singing with Young Children.  This book is also available from MWEI in a spiral bound edition with an accompanying CD containing a recording of each of the key songs in the book.  The book provides a developmental sequence of songs that can be used for singing with young children as well as the source of pieces for beginning dulcimer.  The songs also provide a good sequence of music to use for helping children learn to notate music. 

For a more extensive list of developmental songs that can be used with children up through 6th grade,  see a list of songs at:  http://www.montessoriworld.org/CD309/SingingD.html

These pieces in this list have been selected from a large selection of campfire and other song books.  These are all songs that have been around for a long time and have been very popular.  They have been selected for their appeal and have been put into a developmental order.

For Playing the Dulcimer:

On this website, after this overview of a suggested approach to music, there is a guide to helping children learn the dulcimer.  This website provides illustrated steps for building a dulcimer, stringing the dulcimer, as well as video demonstrations of how to play 101 pieces on the dulcimer. Whenever you are asked for a password, the password is dulcimer.  You can access the information on using a dulcimer with children under "Teaching the Dulcimer."

For Making Musical Instruments:

Some of the most useful resources I've found for making musical instruments with children are:

1)  Making and Playing Homemade Instruments (DVD)   This is good for starters. http://www.amazon.com/Making-Playing-Homemade-Instruments-Marxer/dp/B000EDWL8C/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1315378621&sr=8-2
1)  Making Musical Instruments with Kids - http://www.amazon.com/Making-Musical-Instruments-Kids-Projects/dp/1884365485/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314159429&sr=1-1  This one is relatively new and a good resource.

For Writing and Reading Music:

Show the children how to write down the songs they are learning to play on the dulcimer.  Show them only what they need to know for the songs they are writing.  The songs are presented in a developmental sequence.  Use the order of songs suggested in the following list:
http://www.montessoriworld.org/CD309/SingingD.html.  Then, for any level, have the children compose and write down their own song that uses what they have learned and have them read and try to play or sing what each other has tried to compose.

Updated on Feb 29, 2012 by Bob Blodget (Version 13)