Hopefully, everyone has had a wonderful start to this school year!
This fall, third graders will develop beginner part-singing skills. Part-singing is defined as singing in which two or more melodic parts occur at the same time to create harmony. Students will experience the following methods to develop part-singing: melodic ostinato (repeating pitch patterns), rounds/canons, and, eventually, partner songs.
Before children can begin part-singing successfully, they must be able to sing in unison. Third grade students have had much practice with unison singing in their music classes over the years. Unison singing is where all performers sing the same pitches, text, and rhythms.
For a first part-singing experience, third grade students will pair a unison song called Ickle, Ockle with a melodic ostinato (repeating melodic pattern). As third graders perform Ickle, Ockle in unison accurately, they will also learn a repeated melodic pattern “swimming in the sea”. When students can sing both Ickle, Ockle and the melodic ostinato separately and accurately, we form two groups with half the class in each group. One group sings the melody of Ickle, Ockle and the other performs the melodic ostinato simultaneously.
Since each melody above has different text and rhythms, third graders can easily perform the parts in groups at the same time, and the harmonic result is pleasing and impressive to them.
In their next part-singing experience, third graders will sing in a round. A round is when each group of singers performs the same melody, but the groups begin and end that same melody at different times. For part-singing in a round, third grade students will perform Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?). Again, third graders must be accurate in singing the unison melody first. Once the song melody is accurate, we divide into two groups. One group begins Frere Jacques while the second group, with teacher help, sings the same melody by start eight beats later.
Part-singing in a round is a bit more difficult than part-singing with a melody and a melodic ostinato because the text that the performers are singing in a round is the same.
Lastly, third graders will have an opportunity to sing in parts with a partner song. A “partner song” is a song where two independent melodies are performed together to create harmony. This part-singing endeavor takes weeks to develop as the students must learn two, independent, more complicated melodies. As mentioned before, students must be able to sing each part accurately and independently before joining the two melodies in part-singing.
Over the years, the highlight of part-singing for third graders occurs in the holiday concert as they perform a partner song on the program. Last year, third graders performed Spin a Little Dreidel as a partner song. This year, the goal for third grade is to perform a partner song called When Sweet Winter Comes Again with the fourth graders at the holiday concert.