This blog post is here to provide you with an adaptable lesson plan that uses the Thanksgiving/Fall Gratitude Round as it’s anchor. I am providing you with unlimited copies of the round for free – (you must use code: SIMPLEGIFT at checkout). The round normally sells for $.99 per copy.
Musically-speaking, Thanksgiving is an often overlooked holiday and yet it is embedded in the fabric of family of American culture.
This pre-Thanksgiving lesson plan has all the fixins needed to serve up a meaningful and memorable rehearsal for your singers. It will work for virtually all ages: elementary, middle school, and high school because it focuses on universal concepts that can be easily adapted. The overall concepts that will be addressed in this lesson are: pinpointed articulation, written solfege, sung solfege, and a group discussion about gratitude.
The Round itself
Besides the musical elements of the song that will be explained, there is one positive, teachable theme that this round embraces: gratitude.
I created the Thanksgiving/Gratitude Round as a means to teach the two “th” sounds (voiced and unvoiced), both of which require a very forward tongue position. Thrown into the lyrics is the reinforcement of the ‘tr/ch’ consonants from the Trick or Treat round.
This round can be sung throughout the fall season as it makes no direct mention of Thanksgiving. Also, it is a great choice for a performance and it is written with a beautiful ending chord, naturally infused into the round. In fact, our choir will be singing this round along with Iris Levine’s “Hiney Ma Tov” and my brand new arrangement of Simple Gifts for SAB (also available in SSA) at a Thanksgiving Interfaith Service.
This lesson will not require our singer’s to break up into a round (unless there is time to do so). More on this later!
Here’s the Lesson Plan:
Download complimentary copies of the Thanksgiving/Fall Gratitude Round for your entire choir using code: SimpleGift at checkout! You will receive the one-page round, the round written out in 4 parts, and a one-page pdf with program notes and a detailed explanations about the consonant pairings; this page is intended to be given to your singers!
1. Speak the words and focus specifically on the consonants.
The lyrics to this round were intentionally written to focus on the ‘th’ sound, both voiced and unvoiced; both ‘th’ sounds require a forward tongue position. I rarely hear high school choirs consistently pronounce these two sounds.
Notice in the third line there are the words ‘treasure’ and ‘cherish’. The ‘tr’ and ‘ch’ are often confused. ‘Tr’ should sound different than ‘ch’, as a ‘tr’ begins with the tongue, not the lips.
Here are the lyrics to the Thanksgiving/Fall Gratitude Round with highlighted consonants to focus on:
There are tons of things to be thankful for.
Things that we’re grateful for, we should give thanks for all.
Think of the things that we treasure and cherish
Those are the things we should thank every fall!
I suggest speaking the lyrics through call and response and in the rhythm that the round was written. In addition to the call and response, I would recommend specifically speaking all the “th” words, one after another, ensuring our singers become hyper-aware of each specific sound and it’s production.
2. Label the pitches using solfege
When sheet music is distributed as a google “assignment,” all students will have access to their own online copy; as they fill out the solfege, you will be able to see if they are labeling correctly in real time. If students are in person, you can always opt to distribute physical copies.
In addition to labeling the solfege, you may also choose to have the students label the rhythm. Since the entire round consists of quarter notes and eighth notes, students of all levels can successfully label the rhythms.
3. Sing the round in unison on solfege
They’ve labeled their music, so now they should collectively be able to sing the song on the proper solfege. If your students struggle with the solfege, you can opt to teach the melody on solfege, line by line, through call and response. Remember, even if this feels like spoon-feeding, your singers still labeled the pitches to acquire the relationship between written pitches and solfege; now you are helping them to place the sound with the use of sheet music in front of them.
4. Sing the round in unison on the words
Now it’s time to connect the articulated words to the pitches. Students have spoken the words in proper rhythm. They have also sung the melody using the solfege syllables in proper rhythm. Now we must be a stickler for the clarity of those consonants as they combine the two. Call and response will work well for clarifying any weak articulation.
5. Sing as a round (optional step)
This peace has great performance value as a round. After singing once in unison, in TTBB choirs and SSAA choirs, the parts can be divided any way. When sung in an SATB choir, the suggested entrance order would be: Bass, Soprano, Alto, Tenor. This will allow for the best ending chord. All parts should sing until the last entry reaches the very end.
6. Use the lyrics to foster a class discussion
Gratitude is a theme that is worthy of discussion, especially prior to Thanksgiving. I would suggest posing a question to our singers either related directly to their experience in our choral program, or a more generalized question about gratitude.
There are tons of things to be thankful for. Things that we’re grateful for, we should give thanks for all. Think of the things that we treasure and cherish. Those are the things we should thank every fall.
What are we grateful for? (this could be related to your experience in our choir, our school, or anything that you are grateful for).
This question could be posed several ways. I think the most fun approach would be posting the question on an app such as nearpod, menti, or a jamboard and their responses can be posted in real time for the class. The positive responses can foster a discussion on gratitude. The intent would be to conclude our pre-Thanksgiving rehearsal with a positive, connected feeling within our choir.
My Words of Gratitude
I have so much gratitude for my readers and supporters of the Choral Clarity Blog. If you like this round, I hope you will check out my Valentine’s Day Round and Trick or Treat – Halloween Round as well; they too are intended to teach articulation. The Valentine’s Day round teaches the different between the voiced ‘v” and the unvoiced ‘f’ and again reinforces the proper ‘tr’ sound that is taught in the Trick of Treat round. For a limited time, if you purchase the package of all 3, you will receive Thanksgiving/Fall Gratitude Round for free and do not need to use any code!
Oh Hanukkah for SAB or SSA – Can be learned in 30 minutes or less!