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6th Grade Woodwind/French Horn Class Impact Project

Improving​ ​Note Knowledge, Rhythmic Accuracy, and Balance in ​Mexican Folk Song Suite ​by
Joseph Phillips

Unit Objectives:
● Students will be able to verbalize, clap, and play rhythms involving dotted quarter notes
and dotted half notes.
● Students will understand how their part fits into the entire piece (are they melody,
harmony, etc.).
● Students will learn new notes and be able to perform them within the context of the piece.
● Students will be able to play both in unison and in multiple parts.

Pre-Test:
The pre-test for this unit consisted of sight reading through ​Mexican Folk Song Suite.​ I

utilized the same rubric that is used by assessment stage judges to grade their performance. The

goal of the pre-test was to identify what aspects of the music the group seemed confident with

and what they were struggling with. The results were used to plan the lessons on this piece.

Below you will find a blank copy of the rubric as well as the rubric that I filled out.
Mexican Folk Song Suite​ Pre-Test:
Lesson Plans:

Lesson One
Movement I: Cielito Lindo, Learning How To Count Dotted Rhythms, Tied Notes, and Improving
Tempo.

Objectives: The students will,


1. Understand how to count dotted half notes.
2. Be able to count tied notes.
3. Balance to melody.
4. Keep a consistent tempo.

Procedures: The students will,


1. Unpack their instruments and briefly warm up on their own.
2. Play m. 1-11.
a. Explain pick up note.
i. Flutes and clarinets have pick up, saxophones and horns do not.
ii. Clap this rhythm and then play.
b. Understand how to count a note that is tied over a bar line.
c. Counting dotted half notes.
i. Clapping, verbalizing, playing.
3. Play m. 11-31.
a. Work on balance between accompaniment (alto sax and horn) and melody
(clarinet and flute).
i. Listen to both parts individually and then combine them.
b. Re-address tied notes.
c. Slowly go through eighth note run in m. 30.
i. Gradually speed up.
4. Play m. 31-end.
a. Work to not slow down dotted half notes.
i. Tap feet to beat.
b. Discuss multiple parts at m. 47 vs. unison rhythms in m. 55.
i. Listen to individual parts to decide which should be heard (melody).

Assessment: The students will,


1. Identify their role in the music.
2. Perform in small groups or as a full group.
3. Verbalize, clap, and play new rhythms.
4. Be called on to answer questions or will volunteer to answer when prompted.
Lesson Two
Movements II and III: Las Mananitas and Chiapanecas, Learning New Notes.

Objectives: The students will,


1. Identify unfamiliar notes in music.
2. Use resources to learn fingerings for new notes.
3. Find exercises in the method book that utilize these new notes.
4. Perform new notes in context of ​Mexican Folk Song Suite.

Procedures: The students will,


1. Unpack their instruments and briefly warm up on their own.
2. Search through Movements II and III of ​Mexican Folk Song Suite t​ o find unfamiliar
notes.
a. Work in pairs to find notes.
b. Share with class.
3. Discuss resources that can be used to help find fingerings for new notes.
a. Fingering chart
b. Method book
c. Ask a teacher
d. Ask a friend
e. Internet
4. Use available resources with a partner to discover new fingerings.
a. Teachers will walk around classroom and assist.
5. Search through method book to find exercises that utilize new notes.
a. First with a partner and then share with class.
b. Play through these exercises (ex. #145, #120, and #121).
6. Play through m. 17-25 of Movement II.
a. Focus on note accuracy.
b. Address rhythmic issues.
7. Play through m. 11-17 of Movement II.
a. Discuss new notes.
b. Work on unison rhythms.

Assessment: The students will,


1. Identify unfamiliar notes.
2. Identify ways to discover fingerings to new notes.
3. Search for new notes in music and in method book.
4. Play new notes in small groups and as full class.
Lesson Three
Movements II and III: Las Mananitas and Chiapanecas, Note Accuracy, Rhythmic Accuracy, and
Balance.

Objectives: The students will,


1. Be able to play rhythmic figures that include dotted quarter notes.
2. Understand their role in the music (melody, harmony, etc.).
3. Feel confident counting rests and making entrances after rests.
4. Put new notes into the context of the piece.

Procedures: The students will,


1. Unpack their instruments and briefly warm up individually.
2. Play m. 1-9 of Movement II.
a. Instruct saxophones and clarinets to look ahead to m. 9-17.
b. Review pick up notes.
c. Address dotted quarter note rhythm.
3. Play m. 9-25.
a. Discuss difference between unison rhythms in 9-17 and different parts in 17-25.
i. Play seperate parts in small groups to figure out what is melody and what
is not.
b. Relate to what the flutes and horns plays in 1-9.
4. Play m. 25-end
a. Unison rhythms but different notes.
i. Check notes to create proper chords.
b. Work on releasing together.
5. Play m. 1-17.
a. Point out that when horns are playing, woodwinds are resting, and vice versa.
b. Reminder that the song is in 3/4, so they should count their rests in 3/4 as well.
c. Work on playing “light and separated.”
i. Think of tonguing with only one taste bud.
ii. Lift off of the note rather than pounding down on it.
6. Play m. 17-33.
a. Work on resting on beat 1.
i. Using foot tapping to feel this.
ii. Light tonguing.
b. Horn playing melody- must hear them.
i. Hold out dotted half notes for full value.
7. Play m. 33-42
a. Everyone playing melody.
i. Hold out dotted half notes for full value.
ii. Continue with light tonguing on quarter notes.

8. Play m. 42-end.
a. Understand how to count rests (in 3).
i. Understand what is going on in the music (brass) during those rests by
listening to the recording.
b. Recap of beginning of piece.
9. Play through both songs all the way through.

Assessment: The students will,


1. Identify their role in the music.
2. Perform in small groups or as a full group.
3. Perform new rhythms in the context of the piece.
4. Be called on to answer questions or will volunteer to answer when prompted.
Post Test
Reflection

When deciding which class I would like to focus on for my impact project, I decided that
one of the 6th grade classes would be the best choice. I ultimately decided on the
woodwind/french horn class because of the opportunities to teach new fingerings to the
woodwind sections and the challenge of having all of the woodwind instruments plus a brass
section in the class. Because we had just gotten out of assessment season, I decided to use the
same rubric that was used by the stage judges at assessment. We had been discussing a lot of the
categories from that rubric in class such as specifically technique, rhythm, and balance that were
mentioned by the assessment judges. I decided that continuing to use this rubric with their new
music would allow me to connect some of their critiques from their previous music selections to
the piece we were now working on, ​Mexican Folk Song Suite.
As I prepared for the first lesson, I worked to anticipate what difficulties the group would
have based on the results of the pretest. Two of the most significant issues that I found from the
pretest were understanding how to count the dotted half notes and balance. For the entire week
before the pretest, this class had been working on dotted rhythms in the method book so I
thought that they would have been more successful than they were. It seemed that while they
understood the dotted rhythms in isolation, they struggled significantly when the rhythms were
put in the context of a piece and mixed in with other rhythms. When we worked out of the
method book, I noticed that there were many different learning styles. Some students worked
better when they were able to move, some prefered having a visual representation of what they
were doing, and some needed to hear the rhythms first and then could recreate them. I tried to
appeal to all of these learning styles by allowing students to clap the rhythms, verbalize them,
play them, and provided visuals on the board. To address the issue of balance, I had each
individual section play their part while the others listened and decided if it was melody or
accompaniment. This seemed to be effective as the balance did improve by the end of class. If I
were to do this lesson again, one way I could improve would be to record the class playing and
have them listen back to critique their balance. This simple use of technology would allow the
students to hear the issue back so that they could notice issues they may not realize are
happening while they are playing.
One of the most significant issues that I discovered from the pretest was that many of the
students, especially clarinet players, had not yet learned the fingerings to several notes that were
found in the second and third movements of the piece. I also noticed that while they all had
fingering charts in the back of the method books as well as several other readily available
resources, they did not take the initiative to search for answers on their own. Because of this, I
chose to focus the second lesson on discussing fingering resources and learning the new notes.
This lesson seemed to be very beneficial because since then, I have noticed the students taking
greater ownership of their own learning and searching for answers on their own before coming to
me or my cooperating teacher.
For my final lesson, I decided to focus on implementing many of the concepts that were
discussed in the first two lessons into the second and third movements of the piece. The
movements were immediately more successful than they were during the pretest because of the
simple fact that the students now knew the fingerings to all of the notes. They still struggled with
some of the dotted rhythms and had difficulties with counting rests. It may seem boring to count
through rests but it is an important skill to have. Since the 6th grade classes are seperate, they are
often missing significant parts of the music when they rehearse in class. Rather than skipping
ahead to the parts where the sections in this class played, I had them count through their rests. I
found that many students found this even more difficult than learning to play their parts.
Something I could have done differently would have been to utilize myself and my cooperating
teacher to play through some of the brass/percussion parts along with them so they could hear
what those sections played during the woodwind/french horn rests.
When I conducted the post-test, I could clearly see great improvement from when we ran
through these pieces the first time. The most notable improvement was that we did not have to
stop and restart as we had in the pretest. I was very proud of the ability of the students to recover
from any issues and to continue to play through the movements. The students seemed much more
confident in their parts but also recognized that there was still much to work on as we moved
forward in concert preparation.