According to KidsHealth.org, children who are involved in music activity excel in reading, goal-setting, coordination and cooperation. They also tend to get along with peers and have higher self-esteem. Musical activities provide children with the opportunity to interact with their peers in a healthy, engaging atmosphere. Whether you are designing a school camp just for music or incorporating musical activities into your camp, focus on age-appropriate activities that will teach kids about music while also providing hands-on experiences.
The Musical Alphabet
Children can learn note values, the musical alphabet or how to read music in a classroom, but music camp can enhance the experience of doing so. Review note values, such as quarter, half and whole notes and rests. Play a bean bag toss game in which children toss a bean bag into a bucket labeled with a note or rest; they get the number of points for each beat that note or rest signifies, but only if they correctly name the number of beats. Draw a giant keyboard in chalk on the sidewalk; review the letter names of each key. Divide children into two teams and have a person from each team draw cards with a letter of the musical alphabet. Give that student a water balloon or bean bag and have him throw the balloon on the correct key; each correct answer wins the team a point. Use a giant keyboard chalk drawing to spell words with letters in the musical alphabet or to teach children intervals -- distance between notes -- by standing on certain keys.
School of Rock
Many children have limited experience touching and playing instruments. Older school-age children, around grades five and up, might enjoy being in a rock band, so assemble guitars, amps, keyboards and drums. Teach students about these instruments -- how they make sound, what family of instrument they fit into and how to play them. Let kids have a jam session or put on rock performances for their parents. Put together a rhythm band for younger children, grades preschool to fourth grade. Use toy xylophones, tambourines, shakers and other handheld instruments. For students who have had six months or more of music lessons, teach easy songs, songwriting, jamming, ear training or performance techniques.
Get kids active with music and movement activities. Younger children will love freeze dances or songs that instruct them to move a certain way, such as jumping, spinning or doing the twist. Older students might enjoy musical volleyball. Prepare a volleyball with various musical tasks, such as tapping a beat written in notation or reciting the musical alphabet. Play volleyball, but when the ball hits the ground, the team that didn’t send the ball back over the net must perform the musical task. Try a musical relay in which students must run to a set of water balloons hanging on a wire. The first student must bust the balloon with “A” written on it and run back to her team, the second student busts the “B” balloon and this relay continues until one team bursts letters A through G, or the notes in the musical alphabet.
Play Together With the Band
Music encourages group participation and cooperative effort. Teach children simple songs and sing them together as a group; research popular songs many kids might already know. Encourage students to participate in karaoke. Divide students into pairs, and instruct them to create their own musical instrument together, followed by sharing their creation with the rest of the group. Make a musical scavenger hunt, and the first team to find and correctly name all the items wins. Engage children who have had private lessons in ensemble camps based on a genre of music, such as jazz or orchestral music. These ensembles give kids a chance to play with each other. Each day can include large ensemble rehearsals, chamber ensemble sessions and master classes.
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