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Watermelon (Tune Teaching Tutorial)

Watermelon (Tune Teaching Tutorial)

By Andy Mullen 

MLT, Practical Applications, Tunes for Teaching

In this Tune Teaching Tutorial, I break down one of my students' favorite tune, the "should be Grammy-nominated" hit, "Watermelon."

The Tune

This is a very simple tune from my book, Fifty Tunes for Teaching. In fact, there is only one word in the whole tune - WATERMELON! 

You can listen to the song (and therefore use any of the associated activities) on my YouTube channel. Here it is for your reference:

Movement Ideas

As explained in the tutorial, after students have heard the song a few times, explain that there are three parts of the tune, and each part moves to a different layer of the beat. The first part moves to the macrobeat; the second part moves to the microbeat; and the final part moves to divisions. I remind students of the syllables for each of the different parts of the beat using this slide from The Literate Musician Teacher Slideshows

Then, I assign each part of the beat a specific movement. For macrobeats, I tell students to move about the room in forward curvy pathways. I demonstrate, and then invite them to try it. For microbeats, I have students move backwards (safely!) in curvy pathways. Finally, for the divisions, I have them move forward in curvy pathways on their tiptoes. After a few practices with the varying movements, I play the track and we try it together. Incidentally, there are a couple of times where I throw in some new layers of the beat (super macrobeat and double divisions). I tell them that they need to make their own movement decisions. 

Tonal Ideas

Aside from working nicely as a round, this song, because of its predictable harmonic progression, is great for introducing subdominant, the IV chord. Some of the "on the nose" ideas from the MLT play book could include:

  • Singing the bass line. Show students the "function fingers" and have them sing the bass line while you sing the song. Or, divide the class in half, and have half of the sing the melody while the other half sings the bass line. OR! Play the video track and have them sing along with that. Dealer's choice.
  • As demonstrated in the video, show students the Purposeful Pathways (Thanks, Chris Azzara!) between the I, IV and V chords. I use the slideshow below, and give everyone the chance to sing all three pathways through the progression before I divide them into groups. 
  • Reinforce with Instruments. I have had students accompany this song with ukuleles, keyboards, guitars and even Boomwhackers! I have put students into small ensembles and made a classroom arrangement of this tune with great results! Here are some free reproducibles for you to use in your classroom:

Let me know in the comments if you try out any of these ideas and tell me how they went! 

About the author, Andy Mullen

Andy Mullen is a teacher, folk musician, multi-instrumentalist, recovering singer-songwriter, and lifelong learner. He has taught all levels of students in a number of subjects, and is currently a middle school general music and choir teacher in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mr Mullen holds Masters degrees in Music Education and School Administration, and serves on the faculty for the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) in Elementary General Music and Choir. He is the author of "MLT Any Music Teacher Can Du...De," "The Literate Musician" and "Fifty Tunes for Teaching," and the composer of the children's album, "Chucka Chucka Wawa."

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