I don’t know about you, but I love the bargain aisle at Target. I could easily pick over that 7′ x 2′ space for hours, imagining all the games I could create and prizes I could giveaway. Ahhh…I digress. The point is, I found this tiny mailbox and fell in love. Thus, the Sweet Music activity was born!
In America it’s common to give and receive Valentine’s day cards in school. But in music lessons, it’s rare for my students to socialize outside of recitals, which are once or twice a year at most. On the flip side, I’ve always thought of music as a gift that’s meant to be shared and appreciated. So, instead of sending Valentine’s day cards, our students are sharing their music with one another.
Essentially, each student writes a micro song on a card- either a melody, rhythm, or combination of both. This is supposed to be short and sweet, nothing overly complex or time consuming. Then, they decorate it with illustrations or stickers, add lyrics, write their name and the receiver’s name, and place it in the tiny mailbox for the next student to open.
-Provides a gateway to musical dialogue
-Gives an alternative platform for expression outside of direct performance
-Applies musical knowledge in a practical and individual way
-Promotes creativity and imagination
-Boosts self-esteem and emotional connection to creativity
-Merges visual art and music
Recommended age: 4 y.o. and up
- small mailbox, bucket, felt envelope, or decorate cardboard box (serves as a mail receptacle)
- Valentine’s stickers
- ruled index cards
- Using a marker and ruler, teacher draws the staff.
- Ask student to create a short song for the next student. Think of it as sending a small musical greeting. Or a Facebook poke.
- Add lyrics or a short message (optional)
- Fold index card in half, to hide music. Seal card with sticker.
- Write ‘TO’ and ‘FROM’, with the names of the students. Decorate the outside.
- Place in mailbox and push the red flag to the upright position, to indicate that there is mail to be collected.
- Opening the message…have the student read the outside before opening, Then have student play the message.
Special Needs modifiers
- Using multi-colored dot stickers (Avery offers them in rainbow colors– which I use to teach the C- 5 finger scale), have students place stickers on staff. Then draw stems above each sticker to indicate rhythm.
- Take a popular song, i.e. ‘Hot Cross Buns.’ Ask the student to play, then notate on index card. Have student decorate the music. And ask them to add finger numbers.
- Instead of sight-reading the card, play the card for the student and have them sing along or play side by side.
Obviously there are many ways to adjust this activity to meet your classroom or studio’s needs. I’ve created this specifically for private lesson students. However, in a classroom you can use cubbies or play a game of telephone, where students add on to the initial song idea. The goal is to inspire students to share and create. Hopefully the musical dialogue will keep going back and forth between students for the month of February. So that the music continues long after the activity ends.