Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Review of Don Dupont and Brian Hiller's "Too Much Noise!" (A Unison Musical for Grades K-2)

For starters, I am not a fan of canned music programs. I often find them too difficult and time-consuming for young children who I may only see once a week. I have used many of Don Dupont and Brian Hiller’s materials and have attended their workshops, so I thought I would give their Tuneful Tales Series a chance. I’m glad I did!!

Recently, my first graders had the joyful experience of performing Too Much Noise. Each class did their own performance during the day in my classroom (I have a large room) and all five performances were smashing successes. The melodic structure aligns with the method of how I teach and is age appropriate. The songs are catchy enough for the children to learn them quickly, and they loved singing them. The arrangements are diverse and professional without a sappy, artificial sound. The songs’ lyrics link well with the theme, and the movements are also child friendly and quickly-learned. 


I teach 850 students a week, and took full advantage of the support materials; they were a huge time-saver for me! From the "Save the Date" letter to the "Calling All Volunteers" to the parent reminders, it was helpful to just type in my information, print and copy. Even better, the letters really assisted in getting parents involved from beginning to end. I also used the included programs which have the title and characters on the front and look fantastic. I just typed in my students’ names along with gratitude for the volunteers and presto...done! I also found the provided check list proved helpful for organizing all the details in a time line.

The script can work for small or large group situations. With a large group, you can just pick 30 students who love to perform and no one has too much to memorize. In my situation, doing the performance with each class, each student had their moment in the sun. It was an intimate setting with coffee and tea for the parents and family members following the show. Of course, with any of these materials, you can use only what you need or create your own materials to accompany/replace the materials provided. For example, I composed a letter for parents which explained the integration of music and literature and listed various web sites they could go to with their child for further exploration. I also had my students watch Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern on YouTube, and we were able to use our thinking maps to compare and contrast the stories. We also incorporated vocabulary building through context clues. 

The CD included with the book contains templates for costumes, props, posters and banners. Parents made the animal masks out of foam. Some parents actually ordered outfits for their daughters to look like wise women, others followed the directions (included in the text) which I sent home. Others adapted Don and Brian's plans to make their own versions of the costumes. One crafty mom even sewed the beards for the boys. I am fortunate to have a parent who owns a print shop; they made the five large animal props along with the banner and colored posters (also all included on the CD!). It gave the entire production a professional feel and certainly built excitement for the students. For my sets, one mom designed and decorated part of my room to look like the inside of an Eastern European home. Another mom painted a large box to look like the country side and the singers sat in front of this back drop. 

With ever-present pressure to integrate literature and reading with music, I feel that Too Much Noise did just that without compromising the integrity of my music education philosophy.

Thanks, Don and Brian, and well done! 


Patricia ("Trish") Sieckman graduated from Arizona State University in the early 1980's with a bachelor of music. She practiced as a board certified music therapist for 12 years in Arizona, California, and Texas. After starting her family, she stayed home with her two children for 15 years. During that time she performed with various groups, volunteered at church and schools, taught private lessons, and taught Kindermusik part time at UALR in Arkansas. She has been teaching general music in Arizona for the last nine years, and is a member of the Arizona Orff Association. Trish lives with her husband of 30 years and enjoys spending time with her two grown children, preparing healthy foods, and biking with her husband in the great state of Arizona.

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