Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal Part 3

Part 3- Wave Your Scarves and Streamers to Improve Phrasing, Intonation (and Fun!)

Welcome back from the sometimes lazy days of summer, to an always exciting fall, filled with opportunities to try new activities with your props from Bear Paw Creek! In this installment of “Magical Moments” we will explore the wonders that ribbon streamers and movement scarves can work in your church choir.

 In this third blog on making magical moments with music props in church choir rehearsal, I will share activities using scarves and streamers that are tailor-made for your sacred choral ensembles. In addition, I will give you tips on how to acquire a set of scarves or ribbon streamers for your group, no matter your budget, including DIY ideas.

 Magical moments are within reach the instant that you take out the scarves and streamers, because they are enjoyable! When the brightly-colored chiffon and satin start making their rounds through the room, the Holy Spirit starts moving singers to smile. This affords you the opportunity to “break the ice”, by having your singers get moving to their anthem, or any song that will get their hearts pumping and their energy for the rehearsal in full gear!

Everyone has fun when the scarves and streamers come out!

 

Scarves and Ribbon Streamers 

Use scarves and ribbon rings for self-expression, easing kids and adults into dance and movement. If an anthem has a dance time signature like 3/4 or dance-like rhythm, scarves and ribbon rings can help them to internalize the dance-like feel.

 

  • Moderate Budget- Bear Paw Creek also has Make Your Own Hoop Streamers available. These are 4” polycarbonate hoops, to which you would add your own ribbons: Make-your-own Hoop Streamers
  • Small Budget- go to the thrift store for scarves or buy plastic bracelets and loop ribbons onto them
  • No Budget- have members and families donate their unused scarves or lengths of ribbon (which can be used successfully on their own without rings)

Make Your Own Ribbon Rings

You need-

Make Your Own Hoop  from BPC at $1.25 each or  Plastic O-ring Shower curtain rings cost about $10 or less

Ribbons $5-10 craft store or plastic flagging tape about $3 from hardware store

STEPS-

  • Cut plastic tape or ribbon to double desired length
  • Fold ribbon in half
  • Place ring a couple of inches below the top of the loop you have made. Take the loop in your hand and tails in the other and reach through the loop to grasp the tails and pull them through. Pull the knot firmly to make it tight.
  • Repeat on the same ring until you have your preferred number of ribbons/streamers

 

TIPS:

– For a good deal, look at the craft store for ribbon remnants, I find grosgrain ribbon to be tougher than satin.

-For ribbons the float in the air well use strips of flagging (not sticky) tape from the hardware store. It can be found next to the caution tape

-You can also use rigid bangle bracelets or I have even used my daughters’ cast-off baby stacking rings. If you use shower curtain rings be sure that they are in an O-ring closed circle so the ribbons can’t slide off

– For increased durability use glue at the ends of ribbons that may unravel

– You can even just loop the ribbon halfway over the bangle and sew into position.

Magical moments are within reach the instant that you take out the scarves and streamers, because they... afford you the opportunity to “break the ice”, by having your singers get moving, their hearts pumping and their energy for the rehearsal in full gear!

 

 

Activities-

Difficult Section or Pitch- Use the streamers to follow the melodic contour of the difficult section in order to give singers a visual and kinesthetic learning opportunity and minimize the time spent in rehearsal fixing the section.

Kids-

Move Expressively- to a recorded Praise and Worship song like:

     Jesus is My Superhero– by Hillsong Kids, Gagnam Style- Christian Remix, or God Made Me by Casey Darnell and John Delich

Holy Spirit- Have the children show how they think Holy Spirit moves: up and down, through, side to side, or any way at all.

Pitch Exploration- Have one student stand before the group and however they move the scarf up and down the choristers reflect that in singing

Pitch Matching Hello- Sing hello followed by a chorister’s name on Sol Mi, then roll up and toss the scarf to that chorister and repeat.

Turn, Turn, Turn- Use scarves to create motions to match the text of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, or to the Byrds rendition of that same biblical text altered and set to music in “Turn! Turn! Turn!”.

12 Apostles- Sing “The Twelve Apostles” song to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”. Have 12 children stand before the rest of the group represent each apostle. Each child representing an apostle creates a motion to go with their apostle’s name. As the whole group sings along they can do the motion for each apostle.

TIPS: -Scarves and streamers can create a bonding and teambuilding experience for adults in choir because they may be doing something new and unusual for them.

-Keep an eye on the edges of handmade ribbons and scarves because with boisterous use they will need some minor maintenance to prevent fraying.

I hope these ideas  of how to get your choir moving with scarves and ribbon streamers have gotten you in the mood to try some new things with your church choir this season. When you give these props a try with your choir members of any age, you will find your singers energized, and able to pick up tough passages even faster when the element of movement is added to the rehearsal mix. Happy rehearsing!

BPC has a great variety of streamers and scarves for you to choose from, right here on bearpawcreek,com.

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.

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal Part 2

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.

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.

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal

Now that we are in the New Year, it is time to begin afresh, and make some magical moments with those wonderful props you have from Bear Paw Creek. But, have you noticed there aren’t a lot of resources out there for church choral directors to draw upon when searching for music and movement activities?  

I did notice the lack of resources, and certainly very few mentions of activities for more mature adults as well. So I set out to create some new activities and share some resources with you Bear Paw Creek fans and church choir directors to maximize the props you have.

If you do not yet have the budget to purchase the high quality props the BPC has to offer, then I will give you some alternative ideas for until your funding comes through. In addition, if you are like Janet and I and enjoy being makers, I am providing ideas, instructions and resources for you to make away!  

Stretchy Band

Stretchy Band in Choir Rehearsal with All Ages

Where is the magic? 

Where is the magic I mentioned?  To me, the magic rushes in in the moment when I take out a prop and see the excitement and expectation on the faces of those young and old in my choir, wondering what I will suggest they do with the prop! Then, just as thrilling, seeing the concept I wanted to impart take hold so quickly because manipulating the prop engages those kinesthetic and tactile learners in my group.

 In this first of several blog posts on magical moments with music props in church choir rehearsal, I will provide you with activities using the stretchy band that will be just right for the church setting. There will be suggested church-appropriate activities for adults and children, recommendations on how to acquire a stretchy band for your rehearsal space on any budget and two ways to make your own stretchy band.

[Tweet “The magic rushes in when I take out a prop and see the excitement and expectation on the faces of those young and old in my choir! “]

Stretchy Band Activities that are fun and engaging!

Adults and/or Children-

Breathing Technique- Everyone breathe with the following motions- step back on the inhale and forward on the exhale, but never fully collapsing their ribcage by moving all the way to the middle, this creates a visual for good breathing technique.

Musical Learning- Adults and children together or separate, work together to make the stretchy band into note shapes and dynamic markings, this helps them to team build and work together.

Musical Form- Analyze the form of a current anthem or hymn using teamwork, by making a triangle as group for the A section, circle for B, square for C and so on.

Children-                                                                                                                                                                                                 Song Movements- Use the band for movements to songs such as: Michael Row the Boat Ashore, My God is So Big, Father Abraham, Zaccheus or Deep and Wide.

Highlight Individual’s Movements- Sing songs that highlight individual’s actions, for the larger group to imitate such as Did You Ever See a Lassie or Walking, Walking.

Fisherman Song- Use the chorus of the tune Blow the Man Down to create fishermen lyrics such as: Gather the net and pull in some fish in yea hey, like Peter did

Preschoolers- Stretchy bands can work on fundamentals like: high and low, soft/loud, up/down, in/out, colors and shapes through movement and visuals.

Putting away the stretchy band: Teacher “How big is Jesus’s heart?” The children stretch the band back and say “Sooo big!  and release. Or simply have everyone pull back and have everyone let go simultaneously, either way leaving the band in a nice, easy to pick up pile, and it is fun!

Easy Stretchy Band Clean-up

TIP: Be open to participants contributing lyric, movement or song ideas, as they are often good ones. 

 

HOW TO GET A STRETCHY BAND:

  • Big budget: You can purchase a high-quality stretchy band right here on this site from Bear Paw Creek.
  • Small budget: I made a thick and hearty homemade band of my own design for less than $20 and about two hours of work several years ago and it is still holding up well! See below for directions.
  • Tiny budget: The blog Education in Our World has an entry with a very frugal way to create a thin stretchy band of flexible size.

 

Two ways to make your own stretchy band

  1. Thick and Hearty

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Fabric- colorful cotton/polyester blend or polyester cut lengthwise into 6 inch wide strips.
  • Fabric yardage- (using typical 44-45 inch width fabric) A few examples for stretchy bands intended for  different numbers of participants: 12 people= 1 ¼ yards, 20 people= 2 yards, 24 people= 2 1/3 yards. Formula for customization purposes can be found below.
  • 1 inch width elastic
  • Extra large safety pin
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
    STEPS:
  • Calculate size based on maximum number of children or adults times 1 foot, which will give you the amount of elastic. Then double that number, which should give you the total length of the fabric strips you will need.

o   Formula for elastic:  Number of People x 1 foot= Elastic Needed*.

o   Formula for number of fabric strips: Elastic Needed x 2= total length of fabric strips needed.

o   Formula for fabric yardage required: Total Length of Fabric Strips x 12 = total number of inches required. Inches required divided by the fabric width of 43= total put into calculator at Quilter’s Paradise: Pieces to Yardage Area Calculator.

  • Cut the fabric into 6 inch wide lengths down the longest way of the fabric until you have strips adding up to the total length you calculated in the first step.
  • Turn two fabric strips so the right sides are facing each other, then sew the short ends together, repeat until all the pieces are one very long strip.
  • Fold completed long piece in half the long way, right sides together and sew about 1/2 inch from the edge creating a very long tube.
  • Turn the tube right side out, you will need to use a very large safety pin stuck through one end to aid you in this process.
  • Now comes the challenge- threading 1 inch elastic with the big safety pin in the end through the entire length.
  • Finally, sew the two ends of the elastic, overlap by an inch and stitch in a box shape and then in and x over the center of the box. *If the elastic length you require can only be achieved by purchasing two packages of elastic, then you will use the above process to attach the two ends of elastic together to make a larger size.
  • Fold under unfinished edges and sew completed stretchy band closed.

TIPS:

  • Enlist the sewing skills of an adult choir member or a child chorister parent or grandparent.
  • Go big, you can always tie a knot in the finished stretchy band to shrink the size if necessary.
  • Always double stitch everything if you want it to last.
  • If you are savvy, you can make this style for about $15 in a large to extra-large size. Look in the clearance fabric for steep discounts.
  • If your band is one color or pattern, tie scarves or ribbons every 12 inches to the stretchy band in order to be able to call out choristers by color for activities
  1. Thin and Flexi

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 bag of nylon potholder loops

STEPS:

  • Can be found on the blog Education in Our World when you go to Mrs. Toben’s entry  “Games and Movement Band” where she explains how to make a thin, flexible band in five minutes for about $5 worth of spandex potholder loops.

TIPS:

  • You can easily adjust the size for each group
  • Create sections of a particular color so you can call colors being held for people to switch places etc.

I hope that these ideas are helpful to you in your upcoming rehearsals!  Let me know if you have any questions or comments below or you can email me at [email protected] Check out my next blog on Magical Moments for more activities.

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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