My 2nd and 3rd graders started laying the groundwork for harmony singing last week. One Bottle of Pop. Alfred the Alligator. My Dog Treed a Rabbit. Kookaburra--both the "normal" and "naughty little kid" versions.
We talked about harmony and its definition (a room full of 2nd graders bellowing, DIFFERENT SOUNDS THAT WORK TOGETHER!!!). I showed them some examples: All singing "One Bottle of Pop" is not harmony...why? Because we're all singing the same thing. It has to be different sounds. Same thing, but with the guitar--is this harmony? Yes! The guitar is different. Then a funny example: Singing "One Bottle of Pop," while I play the accompaniment to a different song, in a different key and different meter. Above the giggling and puzzled looks, I ask again. NO! It sounds like a big mess. Doesn't work together.
The big punch line is happening this week, when we start applying this stuff, singing rounds and partner songs. Some classes struggle with the team concept, getting their ears past themselves to hear the whole group. There's a big difference between understanding it and doing it. But other classes really get it--I can hear it in their voices and see it in their faces. It's the best thing about teaching: Being there when it happens, even presiding over it. That feeling is what hooked me on teaching almost twenty years ago. It is what has kept me with it all these years. It is addictive.
The harmony really starts happening; those different sounds really start working together. The little light bulbs start coming on, the energy in the room kicks way up, and I don't really have to tell the kids that we're all in this together. I don't have to tell them that they can accomplish things as a group that they could never accomplish by themselves. I don't need to point out that our differences make us strong. I don't have to tell them that when we really come together, we can do just about anything.
They get it.