Here's the theory assignment from the classes earlier today. Both classes have fairly similar assignments this week.
1. Try to identify major and minor key music you hear on the radio. Have fun doing a "car music quiz" with mom or dad. It can be a fun game. Also listen for major and minor keys in the upcoming recitals. (Hint: all the book 1 pieces are major!)
2. Practice open string melodic dictation. After finding all the open strings on the staff to create a "cheat sheet", parents can pluck strings slowly and let your child find them on the staff. Don't be too eager to jump in and help too quickly. Feel free to let them make mistakes and learn to correct them since that can be a good part of learning and internalizing the knowledge. Also, you can switch roles and have your child pluck strings and you put the notes on the staff. Be sure to make lots of mistakes so they can help you and show off what they know! With melodic dication it's good to start slow and just do a small number of notes like 3 or 4, or maybe even just one or two notes if he/she is finding it really challenging without parental help. You can always increase the number if it's too easy. Each little melody should be repeated a few times so your child has time to check his/her work. If dictation is quite a challenge, try just doing two strings only and spend lots of time reviewing how to put the open strings on the staff.
3. Blue jello dynamics! Try doing different dynamics on the blue jello cards: pp (pianissimo), p (piano), mp (mezzo piano), mf (mezzo forte), f (forte), ff (fortissimo!), cresc (crescendo = get louder), decresc (decrescendo = get softer), dim (diminuendo = get softer). If it gets pretty easy, kids can try playing the rhythms on their the arm or on open strings. Remember that big bows are loud and small bows are soft.
Since I got questions about this from some parents, for the difference between minor and major check out:
Major key - any piece on the book 1 CD
Minor then Major key- The first half of this piece is minor and the second half switches to major around 0:50. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1fLJcnFAWc (on electric violin)
Major then Minor key - This piece is in major at first. It switches to minor at about 1:40 and swtiches back to major a bit before 2:30. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xaIH7lTiK4 (it's Yo-Yo Ma and Itzak Perlman, so it's worth checking out just for the sake of beauty, as well as for listening for major and minor!)
Feel free to ask me or your teacher if you would like more listening ideas to learn to identify the difference. Remember major keys are associated with positive emotions and bright colors and minor is associated with negative emotions and dark colors, so try listening for how the music makes you feel to help identify the key.