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link to "Let's Have Another Round," music book
Let's Have Another
Round
,
a book of rounds to sing and play, edited for Suzuki strings students by
Karen Zethmayr


Different uses of picture cards:
Reading Readiness: "Who Ran Away?"
Expression: Animal Personalities


Who Ran Away?

This reading readiness game emphasizes both looking ahead and remembering.

Big cards with animal shapes.

• Version 1:

Hold up the deck with one card showing. As you hide that card in back of the stack, you say "who ran away?" As soon as the child/group answers, "bear ran away," hide the next card and ask "who ran away?"

They are saying the name of the animal that is gone and looking at the animal they will name when it too disappears. Gradually raise the bar by accelerating the tempo. Gauge the tempo by the level of engagement you see on little faces.

• Variation 2:

When the child is ready to take it to the next level, you can slow the tempo down again, but omit the question: "Now you will do all the talking. As soon as I hide the card, you tell me who ran away."

As skill increases, you can also omit "ran away," and the child says only the name of the picture.

Variation 3:

Many kids have a sight word vocabulary of 10 or more words or phrases you're glad they know (women, men, exit) and some you wish they didn't know (garage sale, ice cream....) You can put these on cards and let them play the same game. Some years down the road, they will need the habit of having the eyes a distance ahead of the voice when called upon to read aloud. That need is in the future, but you can gently lay the groundwork with signs and words at their level.

• Variation 4:

This variation is good after you have used the the Rhythm Flash cards many times in lessons and for home practice. After the child is familiar with the rhythms and can identify them quickly, use them for a castanet or hand drum activity.

When parent and child are comfortable with tapping the rhythms, you can line them up in a row and tap them in succession. Give that game some weeks to become easy and fun.

When the child is comfortable with the activity and also with making his own sequences, introduce the idea of playing Who Ran Away with the rthythm cards. Just as in reading words, we will eventually want to be able to read ahead of what we are playing.

Eventually, NOT IN BOOK ONE, we are playing what we memorized a measure or so ago, and looking at our future.

Looking ahead to Book Two and beyond, memorizing, which the kids do from the beginning, is freeing for the body. For older students who tend too much to hunch the body over in front of the music stand, I let them look at the music to memorize, perhaps 6 notes, perhaps several measures, then turn away from the stand and play that amount. Ideally we have laid the groundwork for that exercise by playing the simple card games in the beginning.

As in Rhythm Flash, this game foreshadows the link between reading and memorizing: look ahead, play what your eyes just left behind.

For a reading teacher's take on note reading, see Parent Letter, February.

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Animal Personalities

'Cello teacher Liz Weamer brought a fun activity to the recent Suzuki Association of Wisconsin workshop in February: She presented a set of cards with animal names, and the students discussed traits of those animals and ways of playing that might bring those traits to mind. After this discussion she passed out the cards and gave the kids a moment to think of a Book One piece to play and a way to play it that would make the others in the class think of the animal in question. In this setting, each student had a chance to:

• Perform from their "working repertory." (Teachers lie awake at night inventing new excuses to do those things called practice, repetition, and keeping a full body of repertory in shape.)

• Play old stuff in a new way.

• Find things in other students' performance to comment on in a way that is both supportive and constructive.

In such a setting, where students from different cities have only recently met, Liz demonstrated the wisdom of focusing on how different each rendition sounded, rather than questioning whether or not it was the perfect representation of the animal. The first goal was to "add one more notch" in performing the piece yet another time ("I already did that, didn't I?"), and the second goal was to experience the power of giving the piece a different character. The genius of the exercise was in making it seem so simple that kids had the courage to perform in the presence of peers who were not long time buddies.

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