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You're My Best Friend

Currently, with my middle school general/core music students, we are learning to perform an accompaniment to the song “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen. I chose this song specifically since it is in the key of C major, and we learning the perform the chord root notes of C, F, and G (I, IV, and V). This is the first unit with this cohort of students in which I am transferring from rhythmic notation to melodic notation. We are using boomwhackers, resonator bells, deskbell/handbells, singing/curwen hand signs, and keyboards to perform. 

Since this is a new concept for my students, I am only using colors, and solfege letters (with Curwen hand signs), rather than combining them with rhythmic notation. Gradually once they master this, I will combine them. The colors that I use for these pitches are red, green, and blue. I specifically chose these colors because they come from the colors of the rainbow, and the colors that we choose matter. This is called conceptual learning - where I am using an idea that my students are familiar with (ie: the colors of the rainbow - part of nature and science, representative of our LGBTQIA+ community, many melodic classroom instruments already follow the rainbow spectrum) to build a foundation. In the words of Dr. Constance McKoy, “use the familiar to discover the unknown.” 

Activity Flow (typically with my students, this may last 2-3 weeks)

1) Introduce the new song (I include title, artist, album, and year)

2) Listen to the music and locate the steady beat in multiple ways (counting, pointing, movement, visual representation)

3) Give a brief introduction to the song/artist 

4) Introduce the keyword to represent the song (I chose the word friend, which we learned how to represent in American Sign Language)

5) Introduce/review the pitches do, fa, and sol

6) Review several examples with different ways we can show the pitches

7) Perform the accompaniment (which lines up perfectly with the refrain to the song when the chords change)

8) Clean up to transition to the next activity

Lifelong Learning Skills (While we are making music with age-appropriate repertoire, here are some of the secondary skills we are learning).

1) Learning about friendships and social skills

2) Teamwork by performing together as an ensemble

3) Cross-hemispheric motion through movement and playing on instruments

4) Language development on representing keywords

5) Student empowerment and choice in they have multiple options in how they want to show what we are learning

Key Takeaway

Think about what you want to teach, and how you can make it accessible by using something that our students are familiar with. In this example, I used colors from the rainbow to allow my students to perform the song “You’re My Best Friend.” The barriers of musical notation, playing together, processing, etc. have been removed - and all students have a way to find success. 

This Is Queen. (2018, December 20). You're My Best Friend (Remastered 2011). [Video]. YouTube.

UNC Greensboro. (2023). Constance McKoy.

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