How to Use “Peace Like a River” to Teach Melodic Phrasing and Dynamics

How to Use “Peace Like a River” to Teach Melodic Phrasing and Dynamics

Ever wonder how to teach melodic phrasing and dynamics? I love using spirituals and freedom songs to teach these concepts.
One song that works well for teaching concepts like melodic phrasing and dynamics is the African American Spiritual, “Peace Like a River”.

HOW TO USE “Peace Like a River” TO TEACH MELODIC PHRASING and DYNAMICS

I’ll be sharing my teaching ideas for the spiritual; “Peace Like a River”.

SPIRITUALS: Many African American spirituals come from songs sung in churches in the southern United States.

These songs blended with the songs of the slaves and focused on themes of freedom, justice and liberty.

Later, spirituals became some of the best-known songs in American music history. Spirituals use timbre, tempo and dynamics to express the meanings of the music.

That’s why they are used in many music curriculum’s.

Singing spirituals and folk songs helps students make connections to American history and their heritage.

In addition, using familiar songs gives students a foundation of material for their the rest of their life.

HOW TO TEACH MELODIC PHRASING

Melodic phrasing is using breath control to show a complete melodic phrase.

Usually a complete sentence or complete thought in a sentence.

Show students how to breathe before and after the phrase.

Read the phrases first in one complete breath.

Sing the song on “oo”.

Pretend to be blowing out a candle to shape the mouth correctly.

For each phrase, have students make a rainbow with one arm. Move the arm overhead and across, then down to the side for each phrase. Switch arms for each phrase.

Have each student or a small group sing each phrase and then listen as the other group sings the next one.

HOW DYNAMICS HELP EXPRESS THE MEANING

Dynamics are an important part of the presentation or performance of a musical selection.

They are an expressive element of music that can help keep your audience interested, provide variety in the music and communicate emotional states and feelings.

Some basic dynamics are:

Very loud,  Loud, Medium soft, soft, very soft

Using the song “Peace Like a River”, you can help students understand how loud and soft can communicate peace, joy and love.

LEARNING GOAL:

Help students understand that  Dynamics and tempo express the mood, feelings or ideas in the music.

Use loud and soft to express the different emotions.

Peace- medium soft

Joy- loud

Love- medium loud

Peace (2) soft

I express to my students to sing from the heart- sing it like you mean it- and be free with their expression.

Try practicing the song in different ways so that students gain an understanding of expression through melodic phrasing and dynamics.

Looking for a music lesson to teach DYNAMICS?

You may want to check this fun set of activities based on animal characters.

Music Class Dynamics activities with Animals from Sing Play Create.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHOIR SINGING STRATEGIES TO TEACH MELODIC PHRASING AND DYNAMICS

There are tons of ways you can teach melodic phrasing and dynamics,

  • Ask a student to conduct the song.

  • Use Dynamic flash cards and have students hold up one- the choir performs what’s on the flash card.

  • Have students sing with their eyes closed.

  • Have students sing holding hands.

  • Sing in a circle.

  • Sing walking and moving around as the music moves you-

  • Create body percussion for the entire song and show it without singing.

CLICK HERE to get a FREE DYNAMICS LESSON when you Subscribe to the Free Resource library.

TEACH THE SIGN LANGUAGE:

I love to use sign language with most of the singing activities in my classroom. Signs and actions can also help students express melodic phrasing and dynamics.

Hopefully, I’ve got the signs correct in my video- if not, I apologize.

But the main point is to keep students engaged, and keep their hands busy with action does a great job of that!

PEACE like a river-

JOY like a fountain-

LOVE like the ocean-

LYRICS:

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river,

I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

Vs. 2

I’ve got joy like a fountain-

Vs. 3

I’ve got love like the ocean-

This blog post has some fun ideas for dynamics and improvisation!

“Making Rain in the Music Room” ideas to teach dynamics and improvisation!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to get the RESOURCE?

“PEACE LIKE A RIVER”  MUSIC LESSON AND MATERIALS

You can PURCHASE the TEACHING PRESENTATION, SHEET MUSIC, GUITAR CHORDS  AND LESSON IDEAS from the Sing Play Create web Shop and the TPT STore

The resource also includes the melody and chords in the key of F and the key of C, and audio files for both melodies.

CLICK HERE TO GO STRAIGHT TO PURCHASE THIS FILE

PEACE LIKE A RIVER MUSIC LESSON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE MUSIC CONCEPT TEACHING POSTS:

STEADY BEAT

FORM

DYNAMICS

I’m hoping this blog post helps you teach students to express their music through melodic phrasing and dynamics.

Sandra from Sing Play Create

 

 

 

 

Like this post?  Please share with your music teacher friends!

Peace Like a River music lesson

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Zach VanderGraaff

    I love this! I’ve done this song before, but I like how you take the song beyond the normal performance. I need to help my kids be more sensitive to higher-level music skills like this. Thanks!

    1. Sandra

      Thanks Zach! Happy singing:)

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