• Jenny Ferris

Welcome songs


Hello there. Bonjour. Aloha. Ni Hao. "Sup?

So many ways to greet people these days! Have you ever thought about how you greet each class when they come in for a lesson? There are so many possibilities!

Some teachers are required to mark the roll for each class and so turn it into a musical exercise or perhaps use it to assess solo singing (multi-tasking for the win!). Others may launch straight into a game or begin with some active listening to tune into the fact that this is a music class, not science or history.

I like to start off with some group music-making in a circle. I think there are a lot of wonderful things to be said for circle time with a music class. Especially as we tend to only see our classes once a week (unless you're lucky enough to work in a school with a daily music program, in which case I want to hear from you so I can live vicariously, albeit bitterly through your experience!) our time with each class is so precious and we don't have the luxury of endless hours to build a rapport with each group. Coming together into a circle sends the message that we are all here together, equal to do something fun, something happy, something wonderful - make music together.

Therefore I like to have a set "hello" song that each year level sings at the beginning of a lesson. I find it's a great way to get the ball rolling, especially with younger kids who sometimes need a little extra help to just get in the door and get started. If you're already inside and are halfway through the first verse, they realise that they've gotta hurry up and find a place in the circle!

Now, of course to ensure they don't get bored with these songs, I find ways to vary them after a while - adding an ostinato, changing actions, having students contribute their own actions etc. and we tend to change hello song each term, certainly each semester.

Some of them are also great for discovering new rhythms or pitches, such as Funga Alafia. If you haven't already, go and buy the MusicMap series book because it's brilliant!

It comes with beautifully illustrated pages and a CD with a professional recording and then partway through the book there is an instrumental section where the page shows the melody through a series of elephants dotted around the page to show the pitch contour. They even have different sized elephants to show the crotchets and quavers!

Available through MusicMap and on sites like J.W. Pepper

It's an excellent song for teaching syncopa and the melody stays within the pentatonic scale so it is excellent for those Middle Primary years. And the moment I get to share the book with the kids and those lightbulbs start going off when they realise the elephants are showing the melody absolutely make my year!

What do you think about trying a regular welcome song? You can find a bundle of welcome songs, including Funga Alafia and another one composed by myself (!!!) at my TeachersPayTeachers store here


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