The pupils have to learn to identify notes through movement as a lead up to actually learning musical notation.
The pupils will work with Fable, both through visual decoding and actual programming, to learn how you communicate notes, and then translate those notes in to melodies. After this lesson plan the pupils should have an easier time, understanding the concept of musical notation, and sheet music.
For this lesson plan to make sense, the pupils need to have a basic foundation, where the teacher can build on top of existing knowledge. In music it is necessary, that the pupils are familiar with the concept of writing music, why it is used, and what it is used for. Then it is also important, that the pupils have been introduced to Solmisation, the concept of giving every note in the major scale a singable word, do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti(or si)-do. This is the terminology used when programming Fable.
Then it is an obvious advantage, if the pupils are familiar with Fable and the app Blockly, used for programming Fable. If this is not the case, time must be added to this lesson plan, to introduce the pupils to this, before they have to use it.
The following materials are needed for the lesson (per group or per pupil, if you prefer that the pupils work individually)
- 2 Fable joint modules
- An iPad or a Chromebook with the Fable Blockly app installed.
- Paper and pencil
- Miscellaneous small instruments, keyboards, glockenspiel etc. that the pupils can use. This could be in app-form
´Common objectives’ and learning objectives for the lesson plan:
|Area of competency and objective
The pupil is able to attentively participate in singing, playing and movement, with an awareness of their own and others’ role in the musical performance
Playing – stage 2
|The pupil is able to play simple melodies and rhythms from ear and with support from notation
||The pupils has a knowledge of simple notation and playing by ear
The pupil is able to creatively express themselves in musical activities
Improvisation – stage 1
|The pupil is able to carry out simple improvisations with instruments
||The pupil has a knowledge of scale and form in musical improvisation
The pupil is able to attentively listen to and express themselves about music
Analysis – fase 1
|The pupil can describe basic song structure in short pieces of music
||The pupil has a knowledge of song structure and the related words and terms
Overall learning objectives:
- The pupils are able translate “signs” into musical notation
- The pupils are able to understand which song is being communicated to them
- The pupils are able to convert own compositions into programming
Learning goals regarding programming:
- The pupil can program using block structured programming.
- The pupil can use debug their programming.
- The pupil can optimise and correct their programming using logic reasoning.
This lesson plan is started with a recap of basic knowledge about musical notation. The concept of Solmisation is introduced, and the pupils sing their way through a C-major scale, lead by the teacher. Then the teacher explains musical notation and how it is used to communicate songs etc. It is important at this stage, that the pupils understand the words do-re-mi etc. is descriptive of the notes in the scale. The c-major scale is the best example for this, as it has neither flats nor sharps. At this point Fable is introduced to the pupils, as well as the movement card with the notes.
When Fable’s different positions have been shown – including the waiting/middle position with the arms pointed straight to each side – you can make a small quiz where you randomly show the pupils different positions, and they have to guess which note it is.
Then the actual assignment is introduced. The pupils have to try to decode, which note sequence (which song) the teacher has programmed on Fable. The pupil looks at the movement card, and write down which positions Fable are at. Here it is important, that the song is not too long, or that it is just a little bit of a song, and especially that it is not too complicated. In the coding example the song used is the two first lines of ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’, but in principle most songs could be used. The pupils probably need to see the program a couple of times to get the correct notation. Then the pupils have to try to translate what they have written down into notes or actual sheet music. In this case the rhythm must be seen as less important. When the students have written down, which and how many notes have been shown, and the order it was shown in, they have to work with their instruments, to figure out which song was played. Here it is important, that the song, that is played is not too rhythmically complicated, because that might make it too difficult for the pupils to figure out which song it was.
When the assignment has been completed, finish with a talk about what was difficult about the assignment, and whether it was easier or more difficult to understand when Fable gives the signs or when it has been written down as musical notation.
The next assignment is the pupils’ own programming, where they work in 2 pairs (or just one pair, if they have individual robots), and each pair try and compose a song on their instruments, and then convert their song into programming. Then it is the task of the other pair to try and decode the song. For this assignment a clear time frame must be defined – e.g. 90 minutes for composing and 90 minutes for programming – because if no time frame is defined they might get lost in the assignment and spend too much time composing, completely forgetting about programming. In this phase, the pupils will need the teacher’s guidance, to make sure they program the right movements, so they get their melody right. For the quick and skillful pupils, the assignment can be made more difficult by adding that their composition must include both an A and a B part, possibly with added repetition, so they get an AABA form. Then use 2 lessons (90 minutes) for the pupils to switch robots and try to decode each others’ song.
To end this lesson plan a formative evaluation is carried out, where the pupils are asked about their understanding of musical notation. Following this lesson plan it would be ideal to use this knowledge as a basis for a lesson plan on traditional musical notation, now with a focus on rhythm as well.
If you only have one joint module per pupil (or group), you can still carry out this lesson plan. You can create variations on the movements for do-re-mi, so they can be shown on one module. However, this requires that you create a combination of movements, the utilises both the X and Y motor. This can be combined in several ways. You can choose to use one motor at a time, and create movements at 45 and 90 degrees (both plus and minus), so there is only movement on one axis at a time. You can also choose to use 90 degrees (plus and minus), and make 4 of the notes into a combination, where the module moves on both axes – see ex. 2. In both cases the challenge for the pupils will be, to be aware of two axes, and that the movements become “smaller”, so they have to pay considerably more attention, when trying to decode the song.