Friday, August 21, 2015

A Review of Brian Hiller and Don Dupont's "What to Teach When" (by Catherine West)

Grades K-1 and 2-3


The names of Brian Hiller and Don Dupont have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and are sure to become more so with the publication of this practical, affordable, yet quite comprehensive curriculum. This three-volume set is modest in size and price compared to a comparable resource, Gameplan: An Active Music Curriculum by Randy DeLelles and Jeff Kriske, but will appeal to the same teacher groups.

Each volume contains repertoire and learning activities for teaching grade-specific elements of rhythm, melody, form, texture and timbre for two grades. The curriculum goals are summarized on one page at the beginning of each grade, and every song or game in the book is referenced back to them. These songs and games are arranged in a suggested order, with brief teaching ideas. Many of these activities reinforce the learning with active movement and instruments (non-pitched used more often than Orff). The visuals for these teaching ideas, available in thumbnails on the page with the music, are included on a CD so they can be printed or projected with ease. Each grade is also provided with a sample assessment tool and a sample lesson which shows how to develop a concept more fully.
Many of the materials here are traditional and familiar, but often presented with an imaginative twist (see Wee Willie Winkie below). The series offers a high-quality, affordable, carefully sequenced core music program which could save teachers many hours of preparation. I would suggest augmenting with more listening experiences, creative work, movement, Orff instrument activities, drama, global repertoire and literature. A few examples are provided for all of these, encouraging teachers to go further on their own. The amount of global repertoire improves greatly in the collection for grade three. Whether this is used as a “guide on the side” or the backbone of a music curriculum, it will be useful for many music teachers.

Include the following if you like:
Wee Willie Winkie
The following is an active game from the first volume, suggested for kindergarten. Use the traditional melody (found in M. Murray Ed. Music for Children¸Vol 1).

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,

Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown.

Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,

“Are the children in their beds, for it’s eight o’clock?”
Move arms to the beat as if walking.

Sway side to side.

Imitate knocking on a door.

Point to wrist as if looking at a watch.

Teach and play the following game: Have the students stand in self-space and tell them that they are in their houses and have to stay in them until Willie visits. Assign one child to be Willie. Explain how as the class sings the song, Willie will walk around the room. On “Rapping at the window,’ he or she will stop in front of a student and perform the movement. Then he or she will trade places with the student who was standing and sit down on the floor in his or her “house” to pantomime sleeping. The new student will assume the role of Willie. Continue in this manner until all students have had a turn to be Willie (and are seated). The last child to be selected should play the role of Town Crier, tip-toeing through the classroom to make sure that all students are “asleep.”
(From Brian Hiller and Don Dupont, What to Teach When: A Thoughtful and Engaging Music Curriculum, Grades K-1)

This review was first published in the journal of Carl Orff Canada ( Ostinato Vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter, 2014). Used by permission.

Toronto Orff Specialist Catherine West was the Editor of Carl Orff Canada’s national journal, Ostinato, for many years. She is the Director of Orff Teacher Training for the Royal Conservatory of Music, where she is also an instructor for all levels of Orff teacher training. She recently completed a term as Instructional Leader in music with the Toronto District School Board, and now works with Smart Start ™, a RCM research program investigating the use of music to enhance cognitive skill development in early childhood. She has an international reputation as an author, workshop clinician, course instructor and arts-in-education consultant.