Friday, June 6, 2014

Blog Hop - Perfect Poolside Planning!

I am super excited to be participating in a blog hop with fellow music bloggers!  Check out my blog and at the end click on the "Perfect Poolside Planning" to be linked to the next hop in the blog!  Thanks go Lindsay Jervis for organizing this fantastic idea!

In the spirit of "Perfect Poolside Planning", I am drawn to thinking of ways to plan and incorporate movement into the Kodaly classroom.  We all do movement activities through folk songs, game, playparties and structured movement, but have you ever found this great new dance or activity and when you teach it to your students it goes sooooo badly?  Well, that happened to me a great deal when I first started teaching.  When the class was over, I thought to myself, that didn't go so well....  I was sequential in teaching the steps, broke it down in to smaller sections, gave time for practice and kept the tempo slower gradually getting up to the correct WHAT did I do wrong?  Maybe it was just that class that struggled - I'll try again tomorrow with this other group of students.  Well, you can guess what happened, the next group bombed it as what do I do?

I decided to find anything I could about teaching movement, now mind you this was many years ago and the resources available were much fewer than the books available today.  I started with two fantastic resources that were already in my collection:
1.  The Kodaly Context Creating an Environment for             Musical Learning by Lois Choksy
2.  120 Singing Games and Dances for Elementary                Schools by Lois Choksy and David Brummitt

Both of these books have wonderful songs and I had used them for that many many times, but I had not taken the time to actually READ the sections about movement and dance.  So I dug in!

I started with The Kodaly Context.  Click the picture to link to the book available for purchase at (it is pricey but you can buy it used for a significantly less amount of $$).

I found such interesting information in Chapter 3 "Movement and Dance in Kodaly Practice" from this book.  Specifically regarding movement in Hungary and historic roots of dance in America but the best part for me was the "Developmental Sequence for Teaching Movement and Dance Via Kodaly Principles" found at the end of that chapter.  Choksy has broken down types of movement and the skills involved into 17 different categories - this was mind blowing!!!  No wonder my kiddos were unsuccessful at the dance I was trying to teach then, I had skipped many of the movement skills necessary to do the one I was asking the to do!

I also dug into the 120 Singing Games (while I realize too this is an expensive book to purchase - it is well work EVERY penny - I have used nearly every song in the book at some point in time over my 20+ year career!).  Click the picture for a link to the book available for purchase from West Music.  

As I said, I was familiar with the song material but did not realize there was so much insight in the Forward, Preface and Introduction to the book!  And upon closer inspection, I discovered that the book is organized in such a way as to take you right through the sequence for teaching movement and dance to your students.  Choksy and Brummitt have laid the categories out in 9 sections:

1.  Moving in Space
2.  Free Movement in Space
3.  Circle Games and Dances
4.  Singing Squares
5.  Line Games and Dances
6.  Passing Games
7.  Clapping Games
8.  Games That Don't Fit
9.  Creating Games and Dances

Now that I had thought through this sequence of teaching movement and dance, how to incorporate it into my teaching?  PLANNING!!!  It is imperative to move through a progression of  skills when teaching movement and dance, much like teaching rhythms and solfege.  I compare it to a year plan where you skipped over tika-tika (4 sixteenth notes) and went right to ti-tika and tika-ti (eighth 2 sixteenth and 2 sixteenth eighth).  Your students would eventually get the concept and skills but it would be a much harder process than if you had not skipped over tika-tika (in my opinion).  Master teacher Jo Kirk stresses in her teaching that EVERYTHING you do in your lessons has a purpose....this is just as true when it comes to teaching movement and dance!

These new ideas significialy impacted my teaching oh so many years ago and now, as a Level III instructor at Colorado State University, learning how to teach movement and dance sequentially has become at the forefront of our studies.  Many teachers are hesitant or unsure of how to incorporate some of these ideas into their teaching.  It really is no different than learning how to prep/present/practice concepts and skills!  Throughout the years, I have compiled a listing of songs to fit the categories stated in The Kodaly Context.  This is by no means all inclusive and I give thanks to all of my former students for their contributions, specifically Jenny Authier, Mallory Harris and Jodi Shoppmann Roberts.   Please click on the link below to download the file.

If you know you want to include a certain dance or structured movement in your lessons, take a minute and refer to the sequences discussed above.  Are you students ready for all the actions called for?  If not, what are they missing?  Do they need experience with a certain type of action before they are ready for this dance?

I encourage you to take some time and go through your current song repertoire and take note of the types of movement you are already doing, I'm sure there are things already in place that set your students up for great movement success!  Are there steps that are missing?  Can you incorporate the missing elements with other song/game material?  

If you are interested in learning more about teaching movement and dance, I encourage you to attend workshops, read and talk with your peers about this topic!  There are classes on Dalcroze Eurythmics offered around the country as well as amazing workshops being presented - if you get the chance, check out Andrew Ellingsen, Sanna Longdon and Sandy Knudson just to name a few!

I hope you found some interesting information in this blog, you can follow CMajorLearning on facebook here and on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

And don't forget to click on the image below to make your next stop in the blog hop for more "Perfect Poolside Planning".


  1. Lots of great ideas, Karla! And thanks so much for the movement sequence freebie! Excited to dig into this. :)

    1. Glad that you found some stuff to dig into!!! I'm going to check out MrsMiraclesMusicRoom now!!!!

  2. WOW! The pdf attached to this post is priceless! Thank you so much for breaking movement down for me in a way that is manageable and sequential!

  3. Karla,
    I attended the NYSSMA Winter conference in Rochester, NY. I loved your sessions. I got the dropbox info you gave us, but I cannot seem to find the name of the book you used. Something like 200 movement songs? Can you tell me the name of the book you use? Thanks! PS- I am now following you on TPT!