PERFORMING ARTS K - 3

Kindergarten

Students interpret elements of nature through their growing skills in music, dance and drama in a myth with themes of changing seasons, migration and kindness.


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In the spring, the kindergarteners showed their progress to their grandparents and special friends with a program about time.
Pantomiming School Activities
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First Grade

Students play with rhymes as a source of skill-building and improvisation using the mediums of song, speech, instruments, drama and dance.

  • Humorous Bug Rhymes Using Sol, Mi and La on the Staff- Illustrated in Visual Art Class


  • Nursery Rhymes are Developed and Extended into Performing Arts Forms:

Dramatizing Theme & Variation with Little Miss Muffet


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Question & Answer through Dramatized Speech and Song with Instrumental Accompaniment in "LIttle Boy Blue Meets Little Bow Peep"
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Song, Movement, Instruments and Drama Show AB Form in "Wee Willie Winkie"
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Speech & Body Percussion/Song with Instrumental Accompaniment Are Used to Show Rondo Form with "Little Tommy Tucker"
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Second and Third Grade Performing Arts Integrated with American History:

Folk Tales, Folk Songs & Folk Dances Reflecting our Virginia Heritage


This past year, the second and third graders embarked on a year-long exploration of American Folk Roots. They participated in music, dance and dramatizations of stories drawn from West Africa, Great Britain and Native America and in their synthesized forms that merged in Colonial Virginia and the greater Appalachians. Each class presented two major performances in the theatre and several informal "shares." The teacher views performances as the organic culmination of the processes that preceded them.


SPANISH ROOTS


A brief foray into our Spanish roots with this choral piece. Next year, we will focus in depth on both Spanish and French roots in the Louisiana Territory. Opportunities abound for integration with the Foreign Language Department and with the history curriculum.

"A la Puerta del Cielo" - a beautiful two part arrangement by Shirley W. McRae; 15th c. Basque origin from New Mexico.
"A la Puerta del Cielo" Spanish-American Lullaby; 15th c. Basque origin from New Mexico.  Beautiful two-part arrangement by Shirley W. McRae.
"A la Puerta del Cielo" Spanish-American Lullaby; 15th c. Basque origin from New Mexico. Beautiful two-part arrangement by Shirley W. McRae.


AFRICAN ROOTS

Multi-genre Narrated Dramatization of the Ngano story, "The Hunter and the Axe." (Sorry, no pictures!)

The West African story-telling tradition of incorporating music and dance parallels our Orff -Schulwerk. The musical dramatization of
the Ngano story, "The Hunter and the Axe," provided the platform for reviewing past skills and developing new ones while laying the groundwork for the concept of the evolution of performing arts forms - in this case, African song evolving to American Spirituals; African dance evolving to American Jazz Dance and Tap; African Mixed Genre Storytelling evolving to the American Musical.

The second and third graders shared their multi-genre story-telling with 5th graders who also study African dance and storytelling in their drama classes with Ms. Solomon. (The 5th graders also present an African Festival in the spring, so maybe more collaboration with MS and LS can be explored for the coming years.) The 5th graders participated by joining their younger friends in the accompaniment parts (good review!) and in the final celebration dance.

The following breakdown is an example of how grade level curricular skills and concepts in each performing arts genre can be introduced, practiced and played with as an integral part of developing a story and generating hands-on experiences with another culture.

New Music Skills & Concepts
  • rhythm: syncopated patterns
  • melody: transposition from C to F Do Pentatonic; full use of plagal pentatonic scale
  • texture: poly-rhythms
  • form: Call and Response
  • timbre: African instruments for sound blanket and song accompaniment
Process: imitation, skill practice, structured improvisations using each skill, music literacy, extend and finalize forms, reflect and polish

New Dance Skills & Concepts
  • Specific African dance steps derived from a U-tube presentation
  • Use of contrasting levels & axial motion
  • Incorporating musical concepts in movement
Process: imitation, practice, structured improvisation, reflection, revision, both student and teacher choreography

New Drama Skills & Concepts
  • Creating WHERE: levels through focus; jungle environment
  • Creating WHO: Iconic good and evil (hero/villain) characterizations through full body, face and voice
  • Creating WHAT: rhythmic task gestures
  • The Magic Three in drama
  • Improvising simultaneous group dialogue
  • Working with narrator cues
  • Choosing and improvising scenes from the story
  • Choosing opportunities for and improvising additional scene
Process: discussion, structured improvisation, reflection, revision

Progression from African song to American spirituals featured in the Winter Concert.


Moments from "Old Ark A-Movin" performed by the the 2nd graders.


  • Animals wreak havoc on Noah's Arc in the spiritual, "Old Ark A-Movin" performed by 2nd graders.  Students have gained skills (playing and sight-reading)  in transposing from C to the plagal Do pentatonic in F  > By spring, they were able to notate on the staff using solfege.
    Animals wreak havoc on Noah's Arc in the spiritual, "Old Ark A-Movin" performed by 2nd graders. Students have gained skills (playing and sight-reading) in transposing from C to the plagal Do pentatonic in F > By spring, they were able to notate on the staff using solfege.
    Animals wreak havoc on Noah
  • RAIN!!  in "Old Ark A-Movin" by 2nd graders.
    RAIN!! in "Old Ark A-Movin" by 2nd graders.
RAIN!!!

Third grade Angels RING, SING AND DANCE in "One Morning Soon."

Students worked collaboratively in small groups to create their dance movements.
We developed an arrangement of the song that was complex and took lots of practice, perseverance and collaboration. (Note that Ryan is dancing thanks to his mentor- fellow student, Nathan.)
  • "One Morning Soon" had the third graders "singin'", "ringin,'" and "dancin.'"
    "One Morning Soon" had the third graders "singin'", "ringin,'" and "dancin.'"
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NATIVE AMERICAN ROOTS

"Arise" from the Winter Concert


Ceremonial Song, "Arise," from the Pueblo of Zuni featured 2nd graders' choreography and polyphonic accompaniment reflecting the song's ABCA form. Students used a different polyphonic mixture of arppegiated drones, tremolo, moving drones and several different ostinatos in each section of the song. Their beautiful singing reflected our work on diphthongs, pure vowels and ending consonants.

Arise, Arise, a ceremonial song from the Pueblo of Zuni.  Student choreography and the three-section accompaniment reflected the song's ABCA form.
Arise, Arise, a ceremonial song from the Pueblo of Zuni. Student choreography and the three-section accompaniment reflected the song's ABCA form.

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2nd grade students performed polyphonic accompaniments using tremelo, arpegiated drones, moving drones, levels and various ostinatos to create the mood for "Arise."
2nd grade students performed polyphonic accompaniments using tremelo, arpegiated drones, moving drones, levels and various ostinatos to create the mood for "Arise."

Musical Dramatization of "The Bunched Star," a Blackfeet Myth


In the spring, the Second Grade students learned about the BLACKFEET TRIBE of Montana through their musical dramatization of an ancient myth,"The Bunched Stars." The story provided many opportunities for discussion of homelessness, hunger and the need to take care of all children. Native American songs for the dramatization were chosen to facilitate the students' continued practice with the plagal Do pentatonic in F and to introduction the La pentatonic. Dances were developed by the students through structured improvisations. The spoken scenes were developed from improvisations.
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BRITISH ROOTS


Appalachian Play Parties from the Winter Concert

Second graders sing, dance and accompany "Sourwood Mountain," an Appalachian play party song.
Second graders sing, dance and accompany "Sourwood Mountain," an Appalachian play party song.

Sourwood Mountain



"Old Joe Clark" with "Round the Christmas Tree" lyrics performed by 3rd graders.
"Old Joe Clark" with "Round the Christmas Tree" lyrics performed by 3rd graders.

Old Joe Clark with "Round the Christmas Tree" lyrics



Appalachian Ballad

Students also developed and performed "The Cherry Tree Carol," a very famous British derivative ballad that existed throughout the Appalachians and the Ozarks in many different versions. We dramatized the story through dance with the characters' movements mirroired by the choir in the repeated B section. The students mastered a complex accompaniment that changed with each verse.


Virginian (via Great Britain) Mummers' Play with traditional characters, Barley Corn and Old Bet.

Old Barleycorn makes his entrance in the 3rd graders' performance of a Virginian (via Great Britain) Mummers' Play.
Old Barleycorn makes his entrance in the 3rd graders' performance of a Virginian (via Great Britain) Mummers' Play.

Old Bet threatens to "kiss you all" in this Virginian Mummers' Play.
Old Bet threatens to "kiss you all" in this Virginian Mummers' Play.


ASHPET: The Third Grade Ballad Opera

A cross-curricular project interfacing with American Colonial History, Writing Workshop and Literature.


This story was chosen largely to give our lower school students the opportunity to experience and compare an American version of the Cinderella story with last year's third grade production of Psyche & Cupid, the Roman progenitor of this fairy tale.

Ashpet and Catskins are Appalachian derivatives of the Cinderella story. For our stage adaptation, I chose elements from both of these stories as well as elements from Diamonds and Toads and Jack and the Draga-man. To reflect the period's performance practices, the story was adapted as a ballad opera - a music theater form of early 18th century England in which popular songs with changed lyrics were interspersed with dialogue. Ballad operas typically illuminated social ills; ours reflected the class system of Colonial Virginia.

By the time the students had started developing and rehearsing the production, they had already become experts on the colonial period through their classroom history studies. They applied this knowledge to their scene writing and to their acting. Several scenes were written by the students as were many of the rhymes through a collaborative session with the 3rd grade classroom teachers. Other scenes were developed through improvisations and then adapted to script form by the teacher. Songs and dances included a hornpipe, a 17th c. sea chantey, Appalachian ballads and play parties. These songs were adapted with new lyrics and with interspersed dialogue that promoted the plot. Each of the 41 students had a featured role.
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The students learned the steps to this Hornpipe by taking a hornpipe dance class on ITUNES taught by a young girl in the Bahamas. The Prince, a second son, is arriving in America to claim land.
The students learned the steps to this Hornpipe by taking a hornpipe dance class on ITUNES taught by a young girl in the Bahamas. The Prince, a second son, is arriving in America to claim land.

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In our colonial adaptation of the story, Ashpet is an indentured servant who was kidnapped from England.  Here she receives her orders, in student-created rhymed verse, from her new "master."
In our colonial adaptation of the story, Ashpet is an indentured servant who was kidnapped from England. Here she receives her orders, in student-created rhymed verse, from her new "master."

This shows the "Well-Scene" in which the "Draw Me A Bucket of Water" song was interspersed with character-revealing dialogue.
This shows the "Well-Scene" in which the "Draw Me A Bucket of Water" song was interspersed with character-revealing dialogue.

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The lyrical song, "Way Up Yonder Above the Sky, A Bluebird Lives in a Jaybirds' eye" was sung as the birds and Ashpet spun thread and made cloth on a loom.
The lyrical song, "Way Up Yonder Above the Sky, A Bluebird Lives in a Jaybirds' eye" was sung as the birds and Ashpet spun thread and made cloth on a loom.

The Well Woman is really the fairy god-mother who recruits her Magic Tailors to sew Ashpet's dress for the ball.  I added scenes to the Ashpet story in order to incorporate play-parties from the Appalachians and to give all of the students parts.
The Well Woman is really the fairy god-mother who recruits her Magic Tailors to sew Ashpet's dress for the ball. I added scenes to the Ashpet story in order to incorporate play-parties from the Appalachians and to give all of the students parts.

The magic tailors throw their red scraps in the air at the end of the folksong, "Thread Needle."   Our dance was successful because our first graders couldn't figure out how the ballgown magically appeared at the end of the song!
The magic tailors throw their red scraps in the air at the end of the folksong, "Thread Needle." Our dance was successful because our first graders couldn't figure out how the ballgown magically appeared at the end of the song!

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The students created a colonial ballad with cannon included!  The Prince defeats the dragons and rescues Ashpet with help from his militia, the fairy godmother and the magical birds.
The students created a colonial ballad with cannon included! The Prince defeats the dragons and rescues Ashpet with help from his militia, the fairy godmother and the magical birds.



The dragons propose to the wicked mother and sisters, giving our fairy tale adaptation a happy ending for all.
The dragons propose to the wicked mother and sisters, giving our fairy tale adaptation a happy ending for all.