I believe as a primary school teacher that I need to be a generalist. Indeed, most of the primary school job descriptions in Victoria are labelled 'Generalist P-6 teacher.' Accordingly, I never shun to develop my skills in what are typically thought of as specialist areas of the curriculum, despite my utter lack of talent in the arts, most notably music. I try to attend as many specialist classes as I can to learn from them and also to see my students' in another, often very different light.
So, with the very mildly put caveat that I was not born a musician, this is a music lesson (which could easily be extended into a unit), focusing on listening and responding to the music of the cartoon movie Finding Nemo. After playing each of the below You Tube clips, I engage in an open Q & A session about the music and this can often lead into explorations regarding the type of instruments or musical techniques to which the questions relate.
The questions should not be used as a list to be given to or asked of students or result in a profound amount of teacher-talk during a music session. Make sure you draw upon students' answers and use the questions as a base from which, at any point, you stop the lesson and engage in a lengthy exploration of an inspiring answer using activities and the resources of your music classroom.
· Is there any backing music? No, just Dori singing.
· How did Dori change her volume? Started softly then varied and emphasised key lyrics with a loud volume.
· What, if any, pulse or beat did Dori’s song have? At the start she did have a beat of 4 (1) Just, (2) Keep (3) Swim- (4) ing. Then she stopped this pulse and it really just became an opera.
· Why do you think Dori started singing rather than just talking to Marlin? To brighten his mood and encourage him to become cheerful.
· Why did Marlin think the song was going to get stuck in his head? Why do songs get stuck in your head? Repetitive: Just keep swimming, matched with a pulse/beat.
· On which word does Dori become really upbeat when she is singing: Just keep swimming? Swim-
· What are some instruments you heard playing? Piano. Voice/singer. Trumpet. The creatures of the ocean were used as percussion instruments during the song, as with the ships firing cannons, hitting the turtle’s head, fish playing keepings off and the whale’s tail hitting the sea at the end.
· How would you describe the way the male was singing? Smooth. Fairly low pitched.
· How does the music vary in volume over the song? Steady at the start. Then there is a loud section with the trumpets, with the singer then singing louder than at the start. Towards the end it trails off into a more relaxed, soft volume.
· What sort of music genre would you classify this as? A mixture of jazz and a bit of hip-hop. Mention trumpets are often prominent in the jazz genre.
· How did the first 30s of music make you feel and how do you think the music contributed to this? Wondrous and mystical. Through the use of high pitched instruments played softly, particularly the whistling sound, with some silence between the sounds.
· During the first minute, what happened to the music? It gradually became louder and as more instruments were added. The initial instruments were still playing but more were added through a process called accumulation.
· When Coral and Marlin were chasing each other, how did the music change? It became faster, more upbeat and with shorter notes. It was still string instruments playing. This shows the same instruments can create different moods depending on the length of notes, even with the same low pitch.
· How was silence (or really soft music) used during the song? To create suspense, for example right before the swordfish ate Coral at around 2:18. How was volume used during the song? It was mostly soft and became loud during upbeat or scary scenes.
· Stop the video at 2:37. What type of pitch was that? Why? Low. To create terror. Did the music become faster? Why? Yes. Because it had to match what was happening with the swordfish snapping at the fish, which was really fast.
· Stop the video at 3:31. What type of pitch was that? High. To create wonder and suspense, like at the start of the song.
· Do you think the music was made to match the visual images or do you think the visuals were edited to match the music? The music was created to match the animation. Why do you think that? The characters were muted and it was only one scene
· How is this different or similar to the previous two pieces? For this one, the music was probably made to match the video. For the second video, scenes were edited to match the music. The first one was a scene of the movie so the music and animation was probably created together because it was Dori singing.
· What types of instruments did you hear the most during the music? Strings of all kinds: chellos, violins, etc. There was some piano at the end which wasn’t played (or didn’t feature prominently) during the rest of the music. This change in instruments could be to signal a new beginning.