Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old Roger Is Dead

I'll admit - I feel that I can teach rhythm pretty well, until we get to 6/8 meter.  I've always loved so many songs in 6/8 meter but it has been hard for me to verbalize it.

I found this adorable picture on Pinterest using big lego-type blocks to teach macro beat:


I love that it separates 6/8 into 2 groups of 3 - what a great visual!  All of a sudden, 6/8 time doesn't seem so daunting.  All you have to do is talk about macro beats and micro beats, and you're set!

Last year, I learned the song "Old Roger is Dead" at a workshop.  I had never heard it before.  It is the PERFECT song for Halloween time that is not about Halloween:


It reinforces 6/8 meter, it is a really good one to introduce anacrusis (pick-up notes), and even ti because of the s-l-t-do pattern.  You could also extract high do for 3rd grade from the first couple of measures.  There are several different versions of this song floating out there, but this is my favorite because of the melodic elements.

I loved it so much, I made a whole presentation about it that you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

There's a lot as part of this:  

Steady beat:

Iconic rhythm:

Discussion of macro and micro beats:

Introduction to anacrusis/pick-up notes:
Melodic practice and introduction to ti:
Also on a staff:

But really, the best part is really the game.  Basically, the game is that you dramatize the words.  In my classroom, I call this game "Silent Movie."  This is, without question, my students' absolute favorite game.  They have to act out the lyrics of any given song (or sometimes, just the story line for something instrumental, like "In the Hall of the Mountain King").  Since the lyrics for this song involve a guy dying, a woman picking apples near his grave, and then the dead guy getting up and giving the woman a shock, this song becomes an instant October favorite.  (Zombies!)  You can play by having "Roger" chase the old woman around the circle, a la "Duck Duck Goose," or just getting up and shocking her.  Even when I have talking problems in my class, one mention of the word "Silent Movie" gets every student to shut their mouths and truly listen to the song.

I usually play Silent Movie with a certain group acting out the lyrics, while everybody else is singing, so they can truly appreciate the "silent" part of "silent movie."  Sometimes, we'll take turns with everybody showing off their performance to the rest of the class.

Other student favorites to play "Silent Movie":

  • In the Hall of the Mountain King (I have one person creep into the Mountain King's lair, then get chased out by trolls)


  • Don Gato (the kids love that the cat falls off the roof, dies, and comes back to life)


  • Oh, Susanna! (crazy lyrics will do it every time)

Try it!  I guarantee your students will like it!

Oh, and just so you have the choice, here's another popular version of this song:

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