Ideas For Boomwhackers®

Whacky Do Re Mi Lesson Plan

Submitted by Barb Philipak, Missouri

Idea posted 2002-08-02

The following is what I did when I used Boomwhackers® with the song Whacky Do Re Mi (from Music K-8, Vol. 11, No. 1, also available in Whacky Do Re Mi And Other Boomwhacker® Favorites). This includes all of the basics and how I explained them to the students, including: how to hold, care, and play for Boomwhackers®.

Hope you enjoy this!

Grades: 2nd - 5th
Concept: Melody, chords, ostinato, instrument pitch relative to size.
Songs: Do-Re-Mi (from The Sound Of Music), Whacky Do Re Mi
Supplies Needed: Boomwhackers®. Also, instead or in addition, the following instruments can be used; Barred Orff instruments, keyboard, resonator bells, step bells, piano.

Also, I made several different overheads of this song. I have one overhead of just part 1 (I covered up part 2 and copied it) and one overhead of just part 2. Then, when I finally put both parts together, I color code each part on a separate overhead.

Lesson Steps:

Listen to Do-Re-Mi from The Sound Of Music. Most kids are familiar with this song. While it is playing, I first point to the Kodály hand chart that is up in my room. Then, on the next verse, I switch to doing the solfège hand symbols with kids joining me. Also, I invite the kids to sing along if they know it. After listening, we discuss the solfège symbols and how they can help us to learn a song.

Next, I tell the students that "I have another song that teaches us about Do, Re, Mi. It is a brand-new song (this grabs their attention). It is called Whacky Do Re Mi." They LOVE the title. I see many grins and lots of body movement as I play this song.

Next, I explain how to connect letter names to DRM. I do this by drawing a chart on the board. I tell them that C is Do in this song and we walk through the process of figuring out the letter names for the rest of the syllables. I leave this chart on the board, so they can quickly refer to it when we start playing the Boomwhackers® (also, this greatly helps when we start switching around the Boomwhackers®).

Then, I get out my bucket of Boomwhackers®. (The first time I do this, I hear lots of ooooohhs and aaaahhs.) I pull out my longest and shortest Boomwhackers® of the same letter name. I ask the kids, "Based on what you know about the size of the instrument in relation to the pitch it makes, which Boomwhacker® will make the deepest sound and which the highest?" Then, I play each to let them see if they were right or not. (They also LOVE the first time they hear the Boomwhacker®!) Next, I hold up several Boomwhackers® in order, C, D, E etc. and point out the length differences of each. Then, before I pass them out, I discuss how to care for them and how to play them. I discuss how they are perfectly round and that if they are crushed or bent they will NOT sound the same. I also tell them that if they are hit too hard on the edge of something (such as the edge of a desk) and get bent in the middle that they would be RUINED! I continue with more information on how important it is to take care of our instruments, etc...

For how-to-play information, I show them what it sounds like in various ways and help them to 'decide' which sounds best - (they always pick the correct one). I play it on my head, on the floor hitting just the tip of the tube, and on the floor with my fingers "in the way - on the bottom so that they hit the floor," and the MOST RESONANT WAY - WHICH IS WHAT I TELL MY STUDENTS IS THE CORRECT WAY - with my fingers out of the way, holding the tube parallel to the ground, then hitting the tube completely flat on the ground once, and then pulling it up off the ground rather than letting it continue to bounce on the floor.

Then, I pass out the Boomwhackers®. I have two of the normal sets and one bass set. Sometimes this is enough, and sometimes I use a resonator bell or two for the rest of the kids. One thing that helps A WHOLE LOT is to put all of the C Boomwhackers® together, all of the D's together, etc... This helps SO MUCH in the beginning. As I pass these out, I instruct the kids NOT to play until I say they can practice OR they will lose their turn on the Boomwhacker®. (This almost always works.)

Then, I have the kids tell me, group by group, which letter plays on Do, which plays on Re, etc... Then, we go around in the circle and play one group at a time. They really like to hear how it goes right up the scale and they identify it immediately with the DRM pattern from the song. Then, I usually let them 'whack' for a few minutes - until they can find the best way to hit it etc...

Next, we try it with the song. I explain to them that on the first and last note of their 'phrase,' e.g. "Do, I make my cookies out of do," they will play on "Do" and "do" at the end; "Re, like on a sunny, sunny day," they play on "Re" and "day." I tell them that if they watch me I will 'direct' them. I found that in the beginning, if I bring my arms down parallel to the floor when they are to play, this really helps.

I also have them play along with the "So, Mi, La, So, Mi" parts at the beginning. I usually have them practice this a couple of times before we try it with the CD. On the line where it is "So-so, Mi, La, So, Mi," I just tell them that "so-so" is just like a ti-ti and they get it!

After the first time, I ask them how we could improve our performance. I usually get answers such as "play together better" and "play on time." So, we try it again. After that I let them switch. I usually try to work it out so that every child gets to use one of the longer (in my case, one of the bass) Boomwhackers®.

The next time I have them in music, we review the song once as is, then, with my 4th and 5th graders, we work on playing every single note in the melody part. I have color coded an overhead transparency with colors that match the Boomwhackers®. This works pretty well. I also review the staff and letter names at this time and help them find out where their 'note' is. We go through the song once or twice slowly without the CD. Then, we try it with the CD.

When they get really good, you can mix up the seating of the groups (so that all the letter names are mixed together) and play it again.