Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal                                                                                                                    Part 2 The Power of the Parachute

In this second installment of Magical Moments I wanted to build upon the activities and resources I shared with you in the first blog post on stretchy bands. As I mentioned earlier, I noticed there are few places where church choral directors can find music and movement activities, so I decided to develop and collect a set of activities to enhance my choir rehearsals.  I also have some fun ideas that can work well with either the stretchy band or the parachute in addition to some ways for you to make your own parachute. These activities will surely either turn you into a great parachute aficionado or get you excited to take out your favorite parachute!

Magical moments with parachutes are revealed when adult and children’s choirs team build together. Last year, I began having both of my choirs perform together. Overcoming their age differences was a concern until I had the inspiration to take out the parachute, then suddenly everyone was smiling, and helping each other. Afterward, the anthems the choirs sang together resounded as one choir rather than two!

Choir members of all ages can enjoy the benefits of using the parachute!

The Power of the Parachute                                                                       

ACTIVITIES for Adults and/or Children

Popcorn– Add balls and get  the balls off of the parachute without rolling them, balls that roll get tossed back onto the ‘chute.

Round the Universe– The choir members move one medium sized ball around the edge. Once the group gets comfortable going clockwise, change to counter clockwise, you will be surprised by the extra challenge for the ight handed people to go counter clockwise.

Mushroom– (for active adults) Everyone lifts the parachute high overhead and moves the edge behind their back and sit down simultaneously.

The adults enjoy this prop too, especially with the children. The children like the parachute even more with grown-ups because the adults lift it higher! For the adult choir the primary benefit of the parachute comes from working as a team. When considering making a parachute, keep in mind that creating a strong parachute is important for the adults, since they are stronger and will put more wear and tear on the prop.

Magical moments with parachutes are revealed when adult and children’s choirs teambuild together… Afterward, the anthems the choirs sing together will resound as one choir rather than two!

Activities- Children

He’s Got the Whole World– Have students run under the parachute by the calling out color they are holding, and the other students try to catch them by bringing the parachute down on the runner on the phrase “in His hands”.                                                                        

Genesis 3 Snakes– Put one individual-sized jump rope on the parachute and have choristers flutter the ‘chute while trying not to get bitten by the “serpent”! If they do get “bitten” (touched), they have to go underneath the parachute. While shaking the parachute the students can sing this call and  response song to the tune of Old John the Rabbit: O sneaky serpent, oh yes, Has a mighty habit, oh yes, of coming to Eden garden, oh yes, and tempting down the apples, Oh yes, and causing lots of troubles, Oh yes and if I live, to see next fall, there ain’t gonna be no garden at all.                                                                                                                                            

God Made the Stars– Ball up 10 pieces of paper and have the choristers flutter the parachute while trying to keep the stars in the parachute. Here is a rhyme they can chant:  God made the stars and God made me, whether I am here or there, He is close to me.    I’ve Got Peace like a River– Students can shake the parachute on each repetition of “River” in the song.                                         

Current Repertoire Run– Have students take turns dancing in place in the middle of the parachute while the group shakes the parachute up and down trying to knock them down.  The duration of the child’s turn in the parachute can be judged by the choristers singing the chorus of a recent anthem. Change the song for each turn or use the game to assist learning or memorizing a particular section by repeating the same section.

 

Activities for Stretchy Band or Parachute

Hymn Singing– Lift and lower the band or parachute as a group, showing a visual of the hymn’s melody line ascending and descending.

Solfege– Lift and lower the band or parachute up and down according to the pitch of the solfege syllables being sung.                             

Steady Beat– Bounce the band or parachute to the steady beat of a song, recording or rhyme.                                                                  

Pitch Matching– The choir director sings and moves stretchy band or parachute and choir members echo and mimic.  

How to Create a Parachute

Here are some guidelines for the size of parachute you will require: 12 adults/children will need at least a 12 foot parachute, for a group of 24 students a minimum of a 24 foot parachute or for 24 adults a 30 foot parachute would be best. 

For Makers on a Smaller Budget- On her blog “And Next Comes L”, Dyan Robson has a tutorial on how to make a small parachute using dollar store shower curtains that could cost as little as $5 and two hours of time.

For Maker with No Budget- Have someone donate a king sized sheet and sewing skills to alter it to a round shape.

 

I hope you have found some terrific ways to create magical, musically meaningful moments in your church choirs with parachutes and stretchy bands in this post! For my next blog post, I am looking forward to offering you some activities that will utilize scarves and ribbons to increase your groups’ understanding of their anthems.

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Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She has a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory at Berkelee, 14 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

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