Middle School Mondays: Sixth Graders Spontaneously Singing: More Fall-out from "The Sound of Music."
I posted a lengthy review/critique of NBC's production of The Sound of Music the other day. You can read more here.
At any rate, I've been teaching my 6th graders musical intervals. We do a new one every week. I come up with a song that uses that particular interval, as well as some mneumonic devices to help them remember.
I was trying to come up with a good example of a Major 3rd. It's an easy interval, but I couldn't think of a song that would be familiar to them. I thought about it all last week, but nothing. Which was okay since last week was Minor 3rd, which is the famous lullaby song.
Well, last night I was watching Fraulein Underwood and the children sing "Do-Re-Mi" on YouTube. I had missed that and wanted to see it. As I drove to school this morning, it hit me. The part where Maria and the kids sing, "Do-Mi-Mi..." a perfect third. I didn't think it was super familiar to them, but I thought they could pick it up quickly. So, I showed the class the YouTube clip I just mentioned.
About three seconds into the clip, one of the girls asked if they could sing along. I told them they could, and about six seconds later the WHOLE class was singing. 28 6th graders. Cool kids, and not-so-cool kids. Musically inclined kids and jocks. Boys and girls. It was so cool! I've rarely seen anything like it. 28 kids just singing their hearts to to "Do-Re-Mi."
These are the kind of magical moments that make being a teacher so worth it. The psychic pay that comes when you don't expect it.
I mentioned the other day that critics have never liked The Sound of Music. But wow. If I could write something the critics hated but would still be read or sung nearly 60 years later, I'd be pretty happy.
At any rate, what does this have to do with middle schoolers? Well, just this: they surprise you. I would not have predicted this. In fact, if you would have suggested it would happen, I would not have believed you.
And, I guarantee that if I had said, "Okay, everyone, today we're going to sing "Do-Re-Mi," so I want all of you to sing along," it wouldn't have had nearly the same response. You have to approach students at this age in less obvious ways.
Middle School students spend a lot of time putting on a front, acting cool and tough. But there are moments when you realize that they are still capable of childlike fun and wonder.
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