I grew up playing video games, maybe too many if you ask my parents. Looking back, I should have picked up an instrument sooner instead of playing all those games. There is a positive side, though, because my favorite gaming series, The Legend of Zelda, has taught me problem solving, how to read, and a love for music. The music featured in the series is some of the best in video gaming. There are several Zelda games that feature an instrument such as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. The main character in the games has to play very simple songs in order to galavant around the land and save the world. One of the things they stress in the Teacher Education program at Pepperdine is that you need to “spice up” the lessons, which means incorporating my love for Zelda in my music classes.
In our music classes we have been learning how to read the treble clef. I’m teaching classic acronyms such as FACE for the spaces and EGBDF (Every Good Boy Does Fine) for the lines. Once I felt that the students had a good grasp of these concepts, I figured that they needed to see the notes in action. They needed to play something, to experience music coming to life. I was lucky to have two sets of bells donated to me before coming down to Huehuetenango. Naturally, I want the students to get good use out of the bells, and I thought that a simple way to ease them into it would be to teach them Zelda songs. Zelda melodies are straightforward and catchy. You hear it once and it is stuck in your head. Some of the songs are comparable in difficulty to other child classics, such as “hot cross buns.” The songs’ simplicity made them ideal for this lesson.
I took the time to write down two of the melodies from the games. Then I had the students split into small groups of about two or three students and write out the rhythms and the names of the notes, reviewing everything we had done so far in the class. When the groups were ready, I showed them the bells. They seemed to be excited because they have not had anything like them in the music classes in the past. I gave them some time to play with the instrument and then asked them to try and play the song. I am happy to report that it went smoothly. Once they mastered the two songs I notated from the Zelda franchise, I saw and heard the students starting to create their own songs, witnessing the creative process before my eyes.
This is only the beginning though. Soon my students will be playing many simple songs with the bells in order to get more practice. I am excited to see where the bells and this new found creative freedom takes the class. If all goes as planned, most of my students will have their own original songs before the first bimester ends! In the next bimester we will be playing the recorders!