In Missouri, one of our music objectives is teaching first graders about singing in head voice. As we know, this is important for vocal health, to save the throat and to encourage children to sing in their natural ranges. We use sirens, scarves, and other tricks.
I am always looking for new ways to utilize my ever-growing collection of puppets in new ways. This year (2016), I had a brainstorm. Two years ago, I used a Merlin cap as part of the sixth grade program. I will admit, I'm lazy. My costumes are housed in our school basement in a corner of the STEM closet. Somehow, the Merlin hat didn't make it to the box, and I really didn't want to go downstairs to put it away. So, the hat ended up on my boy Folkmanis puppet we had named Wolfie (for Mozart, from the movie Amadeus). This year, I looked at the hat, and Wolfie, in a whole new light. The hat remained, and I renamed Wolfie to the much more dignified name of Mozart the Marvelous Mouth Magician, complete with I.D. card (well, the picture has to be taken care of first. He has a temporary one). I decided that Mozart would make a great tool to teach first graders about head voice and proper singing. The video below shows Mozart's first introduction to the first grade:
My heart almost broke when one little voice in first grade (when I talked about how Mozart was afraid someone would make fun of him) said "We would NEVER do that." Lesson in head voice AND lesson in character education! These kids were too precious. And the Merlin hat? Terrific visual in head voice! Since the superstrain of lice hasn't disappeared, the kids can't share the real Merlin hat, but we will be making our own for their next music classes so they have their own magic hat for head voice. Hopefully I will be sharing those activities as well.
UPDATE, August, 2017: The original post came out in 2016. I revisited Mozart recently, and the first graders still love it. They wondered why he always sat there last year when they were in kindergarten without participating, and now they know. The tie-in with being bullied and teased seemed to resonate with some of my students. They are very excited to make their own magic hats. I've refined the craft since I posted about this in 2016, so that's coming up soon! They especially loved it when Mozart "whispered" the idea about the kids having their own hats in my ear. Awww, the innocent hearts of first graders makes me hopeful for the future.
So, we're going to keep on the continuing adventures of Mozart the Marvelous Mouth Magician. Stay tuned!
***Disclaimer: I will be developing activities with Mozart for future workshops and possibly other ventures. If you should choose to share this idea, I would greatly appreciate receiving credit. Thanks!