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Music: Cuckoo, where are you?

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By Jolly Music

Reinforce musical structures using simple songs in the last of our three-part series from Jolly Music

The last of our three articles on Jolly Music looks at a short question-and-answer song. This question-and-answer format provides an opportunity for learning some important musical principles, as well as forming the basis of a popular game, which will help to sharpen the children’s listening skills.

Teach the song

First sing the song ‘Cuckoo, Where are You?’, for the children to listen to (you can play the song below). Remind the children that when you are teaching the song, it is your turn to sing when you cross your arms across your chest and their turn to sing when you open them wide. Sing the first line to the children, then give the signal for them to sing it back to you. Do the same for the second line. Now repeat, but sing both lines together for the children to sing back to you.

Explain the format

Tell the children that there are two characters in the song. One asks a question, Cuckoo, where are you? And the other is the cuckoo, who gives the answer, Here I am, I see you. Invite the children to imagine that they are looking for the cuckoo in a cuckoo clock. When they sing the question, the cuckoo pops out and answers.

Teach the game

In the same lesson that you teach the song, ask the children to sit in a circle and tell them that they are going to play a guessing game. Choose a child to be the guesser and sit or stand in the middle of the circle with their eyes shut (see photograph). Invite the class to sing the question, Cuckoo, where are you? As they do, point to a child to be the cuckoo and answer, Here I am, I see you. Can the guesser identify the cuckoo by their singing voice? The cuckoo then becomes the guesser and the game is repeated several times. Try to ensure the questions and answers follow each other without any gaps. Continue work on this song and game over the following weeks.

Week 1

Remind the children that they learned a song about a bird. Can they remember which bird it was? Sing the question part of the song and ask a volunteer to sing the answer. Repeat this with different volunteers. Let the children sit in a circle and play the game several times.

Week 2

Reinforce to the children that they know a song about a cuckoo. This time, invite a volunteer to sing the question, and sing the answer back to them.

Invite two volunteers to perform the song together, with one singing the question and the other singing the answer. Try giving a bird puppet to the child who is the cuckoo. Have the children sitting in a circle and repeat the game several times with different children.

Week 3

Remind the children of the song and invite two volunteers to perform the song together. Play the game several times. Teach the children to perform the rhythm of the song, while maintaining the distinction between the question and the answer. Tell them that your hands are going to be the characters in the song, and make each of your hands into a beak shape. Tell the children they are just to watch and listen as you sing the song. Then sing the song, moving your fingers to the rhythm of the words, and using one hand for the question and the other for the answer.

Inform the children that you are going to sing the song again, but this time they should sing with you and copy what you do with your hands.

Ask the children to sing the song and show the words using their hands again, but without your help. Invite a volunteer to try this, and then encourage the class to perform the song in this way one more time.

Week 4

Jolly Music

Jolly Music is a step-by-step music programme for primary schoolchildren, including games, activities, puppets and a singing chair. Teachers do not need any specialist music training – the handbook and CDs guide them through lessons. The first teacher handbook, for four-to seven-year-olds, introduces the basics of pulse, rhythm and pitch. Subsequent handbooks will teach the fundamentals of learning to read and write music. Jolly Music is published by Jolly Learning, makers of literacy programme Jolly Phonics. Visit www.jollylearning.co.uk for more details.

Remind the children of the song, and invite a volunteer to come and sing it to the class. Encourage a pair of volunteers to perform it, with one singing the question and the other singing the answer. Let the children sit in a circle and play the guessing game several times.

Questions and answers

This call and response, or question and answer, is one of the most basic musical structures. The children will have already worked in this way with ‘Hello everyone’. Here, they will experience it again with ‘Cuckoo, Where are You?’, both with the game and through more explicit question-and-answer work, either with you or another child. Through this kind of activity children can work on listening, pitch-matching and timing their contribution to a performance.

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