This activity is one of a series which would occur in general music in grades 2, 3 and 4. Students will compare and contrast the Pinkney books: Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa. The focus of the response is: students will learn about the lives and music of two famous Jazz artists, while considering the choices made by the author and the illustrator in the creation of the books. Students will also learn how to improvise through Scat singing.
First Activity–Read Ella Fitzgerald:
At the start of the class, the teacher will be play the music of Ella Fitzgerald–“A-Tisket, A-Tasket”. The teacher will then read the book on Ella Fitzgerald.
Second Activity–Compare both books: (Sets of books are needed)
The students will be placed in small pairs or groups with a list of items to compare in both books. We will read the list together before they start. They will be instructed to look at both books and asked to find at least four things that are the same in both books. They do not have to write them down, although they can take notes. They will be given a time limit of ten minutes–with more time as needed. Sample list:
Illustrator, Author, Main Character, Subject matter, Place, Time Period
When they are done, we will discuss the subject for 15 minutes or so.
IN THE NEXT CLASS
First Activity–Ellington info:
The teacher will then play background music of Ellington while reading his story. Play quiet background music–recommend “Mood Indigo” instrumental arrangement.
Second Activity–Contrasting both books.
The same groupings of students will be asked to go back to the books and find out four things that are different about each book. The can write down the list or just be prepared to discuss those elements of the books that are different.
We will then discuss.
Culminating Activity–Improvisation through Scat Singing.
‘Both Ella and Duke “improvised”, which is creating music on the spot. Improvising is a major part of Jazz. Ella’s speciality was improvising through Scat singing. People scat sing, by singing nonsense syllables using “Blue Notes”.’
I will have the kids gather around the piano. I will play blue notes and show them how to sing them. Then, I will turn on the “ABC” scat on the Silver Burdette and Ginn, Scott Foresman CD, Grade level 3. The students will sing ABCs over the rhythm of the music while echoing the singer. Later in the song, they will echo the teacher, and finally, they will “Scat” using nonsense syllables. It’s an energetic way to end class.