Check out the update below from one of ACEMM’s 2023 Spark Grant Winners

Clay Fissel teaches elementary general music in Dalton, Georgia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Lee University. Clay is currently completing his master’s degree at Anderson University with a research focus on children’s literature in the Orff-Schulwerk classroom. He has completed three levels of Orff-Schulwerk Teacher Education. 



The spark grant money for “Poetry Meets Percussion” was used to purchase three Remo kids percussion Konga drums, five 10-inch Remo frame drums, a Toca Freestyle Djembe, and a talking drum.

“Poetry Meets Percussion” enabled second-grade and third-grade students to explore the intersection between poetry, rhythm, meter, and instrumental performance. Second and third-grade students used the instruments in a multiweek unit titled “Snowetry.” In this unit, students engage with the asymmetrical meter by engaging with a snowflake-themed speech piece in ⅝. They then transferred this speech piece to body percussion and various hand drums. This speech piece would later serve as the A section in a larger-scale rondo form.

After the students mastered the speech piece “Snowflakes,” they composed poems and ostinati that functioned as contrasting sections in the rondo form. Second-grade students explored the poetic structure of Haiku and, in partners, composed Haikus about snowflakes. They then orchestrated their Haikus using pitched and unpitched percussion instruments. Third-grade students explored and wrote original cinquains that they later orchestrated using various percussion instruments. Students also wrote four-word ostinati using different winter-themed descriptive words and transferred them to percussion instruments. The speech piece, poetry, and ostinati culminated in a large-scale rondo form.

Thank you,

Clay Fissel

2 thoughts on “Spark Grant In Action: Poetry Meets Percussion

  1. This sounds like an outstanding unit! Congratulations, Clay – and big respect for bringing uneven meter to your younger students!
    Was the “Snowflakes” speech piece in 5/8 your own original composition, or text added to a Volumes or other piece?

  2. Well done, Clay! Engaging the students through the text and body allowed them to internalize the rhythms and patterns. In turn, they were able to create and apply what they knew in multiple expressions and in community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *