Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Preschool/Kindergarten Music Appreciation: C is for Conduct

Sing Your Gathering Song

Introduce the New Word: Conduct

Coducting is harder than it looks! At its most basic, conducting is keeping the beat so that everyone in the band or choir stays together. Conductors do this by waving their hand, or a stick, in the air along to a beat. There are a few easy, beginning conducting patterns. These are the ones we’re going to learn today.

The first conducting pattern simply has the hand/stick hit “bottom” with every beat. If there were something for the stick to click against, it would sound like a metronome.
The second conducting pattern is in an up/down fashion, with each beat on the highest and lowest points. Kind of
like the leader of a marching band with their baton. I demonstrate both below.

Now that you know how to help your orchestra keep the beat, what else do conductors do? They also let the orchestra know when to get loud, or when to get quiet. When to speed up or slow down. How would you direct to make an orchestra louder or quieter?

Here’s your conduct card.

Activity: Conduct your children in singing a song they know well. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star works well because every word takes place on a beat. Show them how when you conduct faster, they sing faster, and the same with slower conducting. Then let each of them try.
My kids love conducting, although when they want us to go fast they just wave their hands in crazy circles. That means sing as fast as humanly possible. But now, my daughter has realized that the real control comes with slow conducting. So be ready!

Learn the Song: Camptown Races

This is not the whole song. It’s quite long. But this should be enough for your little ones.
The Campptown ladies sing this song,
Doo-da, Doo-da
The Camptown racetrack's five miles long
Oh, de doo-da day

Goin' to run all night
Goin' to run all day
I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the gray

As I was looking up information about this song, I learned that originally started out as a song making fun of black people and was written in a form of southern dialect. The song has been scrubbed clean of its racial overtones and we still sing it, but it definitely has a not-so-nice history. This isn’t something you really need to bring up with your young ones, but it is a nice rabbit trail for your older children to learn more about if they want!
Have your kids direct the new song, being sure to add in louds, softs, accelerandos and ritardandos.

Introduce the Composer: The composer for this week is Aaron Copland, one of the most beloved American composers. You’ll recognize his music instantly! Copland deliberately wrote music that would be accessible. The style was called populist. The harmonies in his music are what everyone automatically consider “American” music.
His most famous pieces are Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodeo, and Appalachian Spring. Pick one of the songs below. Have your children close their eyes. First talk about what the music makes you picture. Than have your children do the same. Once that has run it’s course, turn on Rodeo (below). Tell your children the name of the song (and explain a rodeo if you need to) then have your children act it out along to the music!

Sing any Requests

Pull out your flashcards and make sure everyone follows the instructions!


  1. Hello! Absolutely love this A-Z Music Appreciation, are you continuing the series?? Thanks

  2. I am! Life has been hard the past few weeks, but I just posted for D. It should be on my homepage. I'm glad you like it!