Dynamics in music are one of the hardest things to get across, yet they are one of the easiest ways to improve the sound of your musical performances. If you want your next in-class kazoo concert or your next serious performance for the parents to sound much more polished and musical, add dynamics.
For the non-musicians in the group, dynamics are basically about softness and loudness in music. If your classroom goes with a holler-along approach for group singing, you’ll be impressed by how much more pleasant the sound is once kids get control of dynamics. Impress your fellow teachers, too, by reminding students in assembly to take their seats pianissimo.
Games for practicing dynamics:
- Hide an object in the room and say “warmer” and “colder” while one student searches for it. getting louder as the searcher gets warmer and quieter as the searcher gets colder. One teacher we know uses a toy dog and has the class sing, “Where O Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” with appropriate dynamics to show how close the searcher has come.
- Take turns serving as the conductor while the class sings familiar songs. Have the conductor make big movements for loud and small movements for soft dynamics, while the class follows the conductor’s lead.
- Read a story like “The Three Bears” or the “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” with a big, forte voice for the biggest bear or goat and a little piano voice for the smallest bear or goat. Once the kids know the story, have them provide the voices as you read the narration.
- Put on music with some dynamic range and have students sit cross-legged on the floor. Challenge them to respond to the dynamic level of the music, standing and moving as it gets louder and sinking back down and curling over when it gets quieter.
Here’s a collection of online resources:
- listening to a thunderstorm
- a more complex version of the lesson, using instruments
- a listening lessson with flash cards
- a lesson for Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony” involving visual representations of dynamics
- a cool dynamics lesson using Easter eggs
- a fun introductory lesson for young children with “Boom chicka boom“