Mike Moxcey ©2005
Ideas for Shows
Songs about specific subject areas
You could also do Pioneer songs or Train songs or Sailing
songs or lots of other groupings if you just wanted to do theme shows.
American Musical History: You could do with different instruments
if you're so inclined or just use one instrument for all the songs.
You can discuss the kinds of instruments used during particular eras, the
influences of Irish tunes or English ballads or African drumming (which
were banished by slave owners). You can start with Revolutionary
war tunes (or start later) and follow the history of folk music or other
styles or all styles together. For a gig at a family festival at
an old folks home, I used just the banjo and started with Oh
Susannah, then went on to Buffalo
Gals, Ain't She Sweet
(to emulate the Gay 90s), Cakewalk
into Town (blues), Minor Swing (jazz),
Slewfoot (bluegrass), Johnny B. Goode (rock and roll) and
ended with Me and Bobby McGee (modern folk music) talking just a
little about each of the traditions as I introduced the songs.
Composers: Do songs by just one composer such as Stephen Foster,
Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan or one band such as the Beatles.
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Work Songs (Row Your Boat) or Lullabies or Play Songs
(Ring Around the Rosie) or Counting Songs (This
Songs about theme days
Halloween and Christmas
have quite a few songs you can do.
President's Day: Do a bunch of Patriotic songs such as the instrumentals:
Spangled Banner (), the Victory Rag (a Mother Maybelle Carter
instrumental), Under the Double Eagle or Stars and Stripes Forever.
For singing songs, do America
the Beautiful or
Land is Your Land and maybe some of the historical songs. Passing
Through has a bunch of verses about presidents.
Valentine's Day: There are lots of songs about love. You can
also do the Beatle's Can't Buy Me Love as it's a good antidote to
the spending spree. It's a good tune for Christmas, too.
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Springtime: With the leaves coming out and grass coming up, you
can do Crawdad Song (fishing),
to the World (by Three Dog Night), Here Comes the Sun and Where
Have All the Flowers Gone?
If you want to do a teaching about specific musical concepts, here are
Rhythm (4/4, 3/4, 6/8, everyone can use rhythm sticks over their
head, behind their backs...) You can do a parade where the instruments
set the pace. Talk about the need for a conductor.
Speed (fast/slow play songs at different speeds and see which
works best, speed up and slow down while doing the song, let the kids dance)
Volume (quiet/loud play songs soft or loud, do a loud lullaby and
a quiet work song, get louder or quieter with each verse)
Musical Styles (country, blues, jazz)
Music in Daily Life (you can talk about Muzak in stores and commercials,
is it happy or sad, record sitcom intros and ask if these are scary or
funny). You can also do Work Songs or Lullabies or
Songs or Counting Songs. You can discuss and demonstrate how
music is used in worship and at sporting events (is there a difference?).
If you bring a friend or two, you can do stuff on:
Writing Songs (change one word as in Happy Birthday or change a
rhythm Happy Birthday cha cha cha or write new words to an existing song).
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Harmony or Backup vs. Lead or Rounds or Call and
How a Band Sounds (Do Old MacDonald Had a Band)
You can demonstrate different instruments and how they are played.
Don't forget all those "toy" instruments laying around in drawers and closets
such as ukulele, tambourine, harmonica, kazoo, jaw harp, slide whistle
or nose flute. don't forget the spoons, sandblocks and musical saw.
Often pre-school teachers will have triangles, bells, and maracas available.
You can discuss instruments from different musical families (Percussion,
Wind, String) and how they sound different. You can also talk
about how those families are broad classifications and musicologists are
making new ones. The piano and hammered dulcimer have strings (String)
but are hammered (Percussion). You can also try to have the children
guess the instrument by its sound. They can guess the family or even
the instrument itself.
You can just play one instrument different ways: Guitar strummed,
fingerpicked and flatpicked or banjo strummed, frailed and fingerpicked
or a guitar played country, blues, rock, flamenco.
I'm sure you can think of many others, but these ideas should get you started.
And several ideas can be combined (and probably should be) to make the
presentation more informationally dense and interesting to the audience.
I'll often combine a theme day with a musical concept so you get some knowledge
imparted while hearing relevant songs.
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The physics of sound. You can talk about how sound is caused
by vibration and increased with amplification, how instruments are
tuned, how big spaces make louder sounds than small ones, do harmonics
on a string.
- Physics of Sound
- Musical Improvisation of Songs
- Christmas Show with Musical Concepts
- Intro to Stringed Instruments
- Instruments and Music in Colorado: Then and Now
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