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Junior Years

New Entrants - Year 2

 Moreprok - Ruru  by Emily Cater

Poetry and Stories

In the junior years picture books and oral storytelling provide inspiration for movement, drama, and soundscape work.   We work with the natural rhythms in rhymes and poems with a particular focus on our New Zealand word wizards such as Maragret Mahy, Patricia Grace, Alan Bagnall and many more.  We play with the language and pulse of poems and add in our own sounds to illustrate the words.


We sing lots of songs in unison using hand gestures and a song ladder to show the pitches in a melody going up and down.  We sing along with music map books and create our own music maps using our own artwork.  These maps show pitch and rhythm using pictures that you can follow as you sing.  We make rainbows with our arms to show the phrases or ‘musical sentences’ in a song, listening for where the song takes a little breath, just like a full stop.  We sing lots of scale songs while we grow like trees and melt like snow. 


We spend lots of time putting the beat in our feet: walking, clapping, jumping, stamping and skipping to the drum and different types of music.  We learn about stillness and how to freeze.  Sometimes we move in our self-space and sometimes we travel around the room.  Sometimes we move up high and sometimes we move down low.  Sometimes we do big movements and sometimes very small movements. In year 1 we dance to ‘The 3 Billy Goat’s Gruff’ story from ‘Dance Upon a Time’ by Tanya Batt and learn about different shapes and sizes that we can make with our bodies.  In year 2 we dance to ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ also by Tanya Batt and learn about moving at different speeds.


We also do lots of free movement, responding to the expressive elements of music such as tempi (different speeds), dynamics (louds and softs), energy, and mood.  We dance with scarves and ribbons as we explore movements that best match what we are listening to.  We dance like the things the music makes us think of such as hot air balloons, snow, prowling animals, butterflies, and owls flying in the night-time.  


For folk dancing we start with simple partner dances that have two clear parts (AB form) that we can move to in contrasting ways such as Jibidi and Howdy Partner.  This teaches us to listen carefully and respond to the form of the music.  By the end of year 2 we participate in simple circle dances where we walk to the beat keeping our circle shape, changing direction as a whole group, and moving in and out of the circle while keeping a circle shape.

Active Listening

We spend some time dancing like trolls to the energetic orchestra piece called Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.  This is the song of Tormod the Troll who is the main character in the book ‘My First Orchestra’.  Tormod introduces us to the different families of instruments in the orchestra and famous orchestral pieces that we listen to snippets of.  We use this reference book throughout years 1 – 4 and over this time will listen to snippets of Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Bach Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bartok, and many more.  We learn some fun stories about the composers and the pieces they wrote such as Beethoven’s ‘Rage Over a Lost Penny’.


Contemporary NZ Music:

We also listen and move to some examples by local Wellington composers including: excerpts from the rhythmic percussive work ‘Matres Dance’ by John Psathas, Gareth Farr’s pizzicato introduction to Mumbo Jumbo, and excerpts of ‘Mosaic’ by Ross Harris which uses water sounds collected from Paekakariki on the Kapiti Coast, a local Wellington environment.  We also use songs from Hirini Melbourne’s ‘Forest and Whenua’ album in a range of movement activities.

Percussion Instruments

We begin our percussion work on our own bodies with clapping, finger clicking, stamping, and knee patting.  We then explore how we can transfer body percussion patterns to instruments.


We use percussion instruments to play along to songs, illustrate poems and stories, and to play musical games such as passing the sound around the circle in different ways.  We learn about the musical qualities of four main families of percussion sounds, each with their own special basket in the music room:


  • Wood sounds such as woodblocks, claves, and guiro

  • Resonating sounds such as bells, finger cymbals, and triangles

  • Shaker sounds such as maracas, tambourines, and cabasa

  • Drums: we have hand-drums, djembe, bongos, bucket drums, and even have a timpani to play.


We also explore the musical qualities of a basket of found sounds including river stones, shells, pinecones, rākau, harakeke castanets, and newspaper.

Barred Instruments

As well as un-tuned percussion we play on tuned barred instruments including marimba, xylophones, and glockenspiels.  We play games to learn how to hold the mallets.  We also learn how to bounce our mallets and strike the middle of each bar so that it makes a nice sound.  We play simple stepwise songs that teach us about the different note names in the 7 letter musical alphabet.  By year 2 we will understand that in music there is a ‘home note’, which we call ‘doh’.  We will play and improvise on a five-note scale (pentatonic) and find our way home to ‘doh’ so the piece feels finished.  We move our mallets up and down the scale learning about pitch as our mallets move up and down between low sounds and high sounds.  When we play together on the barred instruments we start to learn about playing as an ensemble, playing all together at the same time.  We learn how a conductor keeps everyone in time.  By the end of year 2 there will be opportunities to take the lead and conduct small groups using expressive hand gestures and keeping the pulse on a drum.

Te Ao Māori

Along with the creation story about the separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku we learn that Rangi represents the mind, including our imagination and dreams, and Papa represents the body.  We learn that  ‘rangi’ is the Māori word for tune and is also a term to describe the expressive qualities of music.  For example the rangi of a waiata might be described as celebratory and joyful or perhaps sad and like a lament.  Musical melodies are thought to drift up to Rangi’s domain of the sky after humans hear them.  We also learn that Papatūānuku’s heartbeat is the basis of all rhythm.  Traditional Māori instruments can be divided into melodic instruments, the family of Rangi, and rhythmic instruments, the family of Papa.  We consider the instruments in our music classroom, tuned and un-tuned and categorise them into these two main families.


Among the many beautiful picture books from around the world that we will use, we will focus on Patricia Grace and Robyn Kahukiwa to celebrate our New Zealand bicultural heritage.  Taniwha and the Tuna of Champion Street become favourite characters that inspire movement and music.  Through these stories we explore our relationship with the environment, in particular our forests and oceans, the domains of Tāne and Tangaroa.  In year 1 we listen to the story of Tāne and the Stars and sing waiata about the night sky and Matariki.  We also listen to the legend of the Sea Child and the Kite and create a soundscape while moving like kites in the wind.  In year 2 we work with the Māori creation story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku expressing the story in music and movement and explore the dance elements of space and energy.  We also get introduced through song to Tāwhirmātea, Māori God of the wind and weather, and Hinepūtehue, goddess of the gourd who breathes in Tāwhirmātea’s wild winds and turns them into gentle breath that can make music.  We also tell this story in movement with wind dancers who dance with scarves and a circle that grows as it breathes in the winds of Tāwhirimātea.


We sing Māori waiata with a particular focus on action songs that focus on building te reo kupu (Māori vocabulary) that describe how we can move our bodies in space.  Favourites include: Tohorā Nui, Ke Hea te Tuna, E Rere Taku Poi, Homai te Pakipaki, Pakipaki Pekepeke, Pākēkē Mai ō Matimati, To ringa ki roto, and Waiata Tinana.


Poi, harakeke castanets, and rākau are used to accompany waiata and to feel the beat.  They are also used in dance work to explore the elements of levels and position (in front, to the side, behind) and for improvised movement.  We also learn basic body percussion and movement kupu including Pākēkē (finger clicks), pakipaki (clap), paki wae (clap legs/thigh slap), and takahi (stamp).

Taniwha by Emily Cater

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