Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Review of Brian Hiller and Don Dupont's "Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears." (A Unison Musical for Grades 3-6)

Recently, our third grade did an evening performance of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, A West African Folk Tale retold with original music by Brian Hiller and Don Dupont.

There are four third grade classes totaling 120 students. They have general music classes once a week for 45 minutes. There were challenges mainly due to half days, holidays, and state testing, therefore some missed quite a few music classes. Because of this I may change a few things for next year (lesson learned!). Nonetheless, it went very well and was a magical event for the children and all involved.

The music Hiller and Dupont created is child-friendly, catchy, diverse, and fun. The songs go along beautifully with the story line. I love how each class reads together like a chorus as different animal groups (agamas, duikers, etc.). I also love how there are plenty of narration parts (something for everyone!).

For our performance, the students accompanied themselves on Orff instruments. This was a scary adventure in terms of the children keeping a steady beat and not rushing with excitement the night of the program. Sometimes we would practice with the Orff instrumentation recording. I would have the students “pretend” play as they listened so that they could hear their part and practice with that steady beat.

The dancing parts were for the most part successful. Some of my students had a hard time, so I created some easier steps on one of the songs. On the first number, dancers used colorful scarves which were fun and beautiful. The King Lion, Mother Sunbird and Mosquito danced through the audience on the first song as we welcomed the parents.

I was extremely fortunate to have had a mom that created and set up the stage for us. You can look at the photos to see what an outstanding job she did! I also had the banner provided on the Tuneful Tale CD made up. Another parent printed out all the animal props (also on the CD) in color on poster board. Other parents then painted two-foot paint stick whites (donated by Home Depot) and attached the poster board animal and leaves onto the stick. The animals are on one side and the leaves are on the other. It looked amazing with 120 kids holding props, all dressed in black! We decided to keep them square and not cut the animals out so we can get a few more years out of them! My daughter painted a large box with a jungle background and this is where the three main characters sat during the show.

There were many helpful components to the Tuneful Tales program:

-Various eye-catching letter templates to send home to parents (“calling all volunteers,” reminders, "save the dates," costume information, etc.)
-Props, posters, banner, and program templates

-The ability to post the lyrics and songs on my teacher page so students could listen and practice at home

-The organized timeline check-off list

This was my third Tuneful Tale program this year! Second grade performed Aesop’s Fables in December, first grade did Too Much Noise in March, and third grade just did Why Mosquito’s Buzz in People’s Ears. I have never been one to use “canned” programs, but must admit these three programs are going to be a tradition at our school. I look forward to adding on each year to the stage design and costumes—the children were so proud and there was such a great sense of accomplishment. There were also ELL and ADAPTS students that were part of the program and this was a special moment for them, their teachers, and their parents. All the parents were very thrilled and delighted. There was most certainly a lot of positive “buzz”.

I would highly recommend all three Tuneful Tales and hope they write some more!


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.

No comments:

Post a Comment