Brad’s Beat October 2015

I have several special dates set up with my grandchildren to visit pumpkin patches during the next couple of weeks.  IMG_2697

That’s Liam on the right, tasting the fruits of his first ever pumpkin hunt.  This year, Liam entered preschool and is enjoying his foray into the world of group instruction.  I must admit, I was a proud grandpa when Liam shared that he was chosen to be line leader at school last week!




One of my favorite early childhood songs for October is “Calabaza.”  My students always enjoy learning the Spanish text of this song created by Lucille Wood.   Descriptive phrases such as “Dos Ojos Brilliantes”, “Una Na Ricita”, and “Una Boca Grande” can be analyzed and defined with the help of Spanish speaking students in our classrooms.  Two favorite phrases of this song for my students are “Muy chistosa” (“Very funny”) and “No le tendo meado!” (“I am not afraid of you!”)  Although society debates the place of Halloween in a school curriculum, our students are clearly excited about dressing up, pretending to be special characters, and, of course, gathering large bags full of treats!

 spanish text








 Early in my career, I taught “Calabaza” as a traditional singing lesson.

The score is presented below.


song with english text






When a computer became available in my classroom, I began experimenting with adding the images we were singing about as we learned the song.  As the class sang along, I would open or close visuals on the screen, playing the computer instead of a piano or guitar to accompany the song.  My students were mesmerized by the simple animation and made requests to sing the song multiple times.  This experience early in the 21st century sent me on a quest to find efficient ways to utilize animation in many of my lessons; I was hooked on the process!  At first, I manipulated the animations by pressing command keys on my computer, turning visuals on and off as the text was presented.  By 2008, I had purchased a computer with enough power to allow the transfer of my animation ideas into movie files.


“Calabaza” is one of the first lessons I transferred from computer-triggered manipulation into an automated movie file.  By turning my animations into movies, I was able to present them in a universal format that any teacher could access. All of my writing since 2009 has been published in an animated format.  The power of animation to focus attention on instruction is demonstrated by the enthusiastic response and concept retention of the students who participate in this style of lesson.


If you have the opportunity, try presenting “Calabaza” as a traditional singing lesson to one group and as an animated lesson to another.  I believe you will find the students who take part in the animated lesson will demonstrate a higher level of enthusiasm for the material and retain the presented information more efficiently than the students participating in the traditional lesson group.  Although the “Calabaza” video that is shown below is not a published lesson, you have my permission to download the video onto your computer.







That’s Brad’s Beat for October, 2015.  I am busy preparing presentations for the upcoming NCMEA Conference in Winston-Salem in early November.  Many of the RBI staff will be attending the Orff Convention in San Diego during that same time frame.  Please make it a point to drop by the RBI Booth and say hello if you are attending either of these fantastic conventions!  We do appreciate you and all of the hard work you do to bring music into the lives of our nation’s children.



Bradley L. Bonner, M.Ed.

President, BLB Studios

Elementary Music Specialist, Rhythm Band Instruments