Veterans Day can be such a special day at school. I love the way students respond to learning about the rich and colorful lives of the veterans in our community. I am moved by the way they show their respect and gratitude. When possible, I love to spend several class periods working with patriotic music. Here are a few other patriotic music posts that may interest you as you plan for Veterans Day:
A few years ago I had a retired Army officer ask me if I taught my students the songs of the United States armed forces. Although I had taught some simplified versions in beginning band, I really didn’t use the songs in lessons with my K-8 general music classes. As I set out to rectify the situation the next year I experimented with ways to introduce the songs and a little about the history of each branch of the military in a way that would engage students and help them remember these songs.
Last year I really felt like I did it! Here’s a great plan for November, Veteran’s Day or any time you want to focus on some patriotic pieces.
I used Sara Bibee’s Our Musical Armed Forces-Guided ListeningUnit in combination with my Armed Forces Listening Glyphs for a complete unit on the music of the five branches of the U.S. military. I used variations of this plan last year with several grade levels. My 5th and 6th graders seemed to connect with it the most. Sara's listening unit (PPT and PDF are both included) gives a brief history of each branch of the armed forces, lyrics for each of their songs and then links to listening examples and videos to use with your classes.
I started with the music of the Army because this was the branch that most of our local veteran's was associated with. Without introducing the song, I played "The Army Goes Rolling Along" leading the group to keep the steady beat in various places on their body (lap, shoulders, etc..). About half way through I said "Create a quite percussion accompaniment on your lap." They loved it and were quite good!
After we finished we discussed where they may have heard the piece before and then I introduced it with Sara's PowerPoint.
Then I explained that we were going to do a listening journal with this famous piece of music. *insert student groans here* They were delighted to find out that their "journal" was actually a coloring sheet.
Students got their supplies and we talked about the elements that we were going to listen for in the piece. We listened to the piece without writing or coloring. Then students completed their listening glyphs based on what they heard. My last blog post was about using listening glyphs. Check it out for tips to make this experience a positive one.
These listening glyphs are from THIS set.
This took about half of my 50 minute class time to complete with 5th and 6th graders. I did a similar plan with each of the branches while still preparing their concert music. It was so nice to come back to these pieces in January (after Veterans Day and after our December performance) and see what they retained from this experience. Not only did they remember what branch each song belong to, they remembered other details about our lesson too. My principal was most impressed!
Looking for more patriotic ideas? You might like to see my Patriotic Resources Pinterest board.