Tuesday, January 27, 2015


You have probably all heard the Russian folk tune called "Beriozka," or more commonly, "Little Birch Tree."

It is a really beautiful little folk song!  I love that it is in minor, and that it is very rhythmically and melodically accessible to my kids.

I'm using this song this year to present "tom ti" to my 5th graders (dotted quarter, eighth).  It happens only in 2 places (both loo-li-loos) with otherwise very simple rhythm, so it is in a great place to point it out.

Basically, this is the sequence of how I work my transitions from rhythm icons to actual notation:

We discuss things at every step, while the students are discovering where the beat falls and why we need to have the tie (the note is held out for 1 1/2 counts).  Finally, I introduce the finished rhythmic notation:

This song is also absolutely wonderful for reviewing l,t,drm.  I don't use it to present low ti, because I like presenting that in a way that goes ti to do, but this is a great review.  I also have melodic practice slides that I love using:

You can find my whole Teachers Pay Teachers file here.

Did you know that Tchaikovsky used this little melody in his 4th symphony?  It is in the 4th movement.  After I have taught my kids the song, they love listening for how many times the melody occurred in the movement, and how Tchaikovsky changes it a few times, with different dynamics, different embellishments, different instruments, etc.  So much to discuss!  You can find a great recording on YouTube.  Note - the movement is almost 9 minutes long, so you really probably want to make this a guided listening example.

I just finished my 5th grade program, and they sang this song.  I found a great unison choral arrangement by Mary Goetze.  It has a beautiful flute or recorder ostinato.  This would be a great piece for an elementary chorus.

Here's an example of Fort Wayne Children's Choir singing this piece:

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