Sunday, December 7, 2014


Hello everyone!  I wanted to share this Hanukkah idea for older students - just in case you're looking to diversify your holiday season.

Here's a nice minor melody (I don't recall where it is from and it might not be Israeli, shh!  If you happen to know, please illuminate me) that would be great for older students. Beforehand, talk about Israeli/Hebrew music and circle dancing (check youtube - lots of good video clips to show) so students have a cultural reference.  This activity is fairly simple and is a good way to cover the content/concept without taking too much class time (as I'm sure your older students are preparing for performances, sing-a-longs, etc).

I like this song because it doesn't have words, that I know of at least, so the students get to experience creating and moving to instrumental music.  Those on instruments realize that the dancers are relying on them to create the music.

I would tackle the melody first, since the other parts are really structured around it (and you can identify which students can play it and which need a simpler part to avoid prolonged frustration).  In my powerpoint, I can have the pitches labeled for those who need it, or I can simply click and the pitches are removed.  Depending on the level of your students/time restraints, you may choose to have the soprano xylophones play the blue (A) phrase while the altos play the yellow (B) phrase - that way the students are learning very small chunk of the melody.  Of course, both instruments could play the complete melody, as could recorder - just add what you'd like.

The drum (I like a hand drum played with a mallet), tambourine, and glock parts are fairly simple.  You (or a student) could play the melody while the others pat on the circles (transfer to drum), snap on the squares (transfer to glock), and clap on the "Hey" (transfer to tambourine).

The bass part is a little tricky - but students can usually figure it out if they listen and watch you play the bass part while you sing the melody.  Have them identify where in the song the chord changes (moves to C and G) and also discuss the differences between the two lines (first line ends on A, second line ends on B).  Be sure to tell them "if you're playing something on the "Hey" - you made a mistake" so that they don't just barrel through.

You may choose to record your students playing in order to have something to practice dancing with (if you'd like to teach the movement to all the students) or you can have a few continue to play while a few learn the movements.  Ideally, about half the class would be playing and half would be moving at the same time.

You can see the movement suggestions (in blue and yellow) next to each phrase - simply follow those.

My students have gotten to the point where they hardly raise their hand when I say, "I need a helper" or "I need someone to play this part" etc because they know I'm going to ask a question.  Here's a few good ones to keep in mind:

1. What do the blue phrases have in common?

2. How are the yellow phrases similar? How are they different?  Why does the first yellow phrase end on "A" while the second ends on "D"?

3. What is the form of this melody?

4.  Is this melody in a major or minor key?  Which key is it?

5. How is moving to live music different then dancing to recorded music?  How does this activity feel compared to you say, dancing to Taylor Swift in your living room?


  1. Thank you for providing all of these awesome suggestions for scaffolding and teaching the song! I definitely want to try it out (at least with the few instruments I've got...)

    Rachel Tanenblatt
    Music With Mrs. Tanenblatt

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