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How about the classic it's the part of the song you remember" or in conjunction with rhythm and harmony (background) as compared to melody the "foreground." Maybe show a very simple melodic line and point out its visible differences using words and phrases like: up and down, vertical, forward, horizontal or sideways, notes heard at same time, etc.
"Kids what differences do see/hear/notice between these examples?" "Can s snare drum play a melody?" How about piano?" Can trumpet play rhythm, melody, and/or a harmony alone?" Just a few thoughts. They may surprise you. "What could added to this family of instruments to allow for harmony?"
We hum a lot in my primary classes as a way to express melody. Many of the seasonal songs I teach, "Albuquerque the Turkey" for instance, "borrow" familiar melodies to express the lyrics. Another technique I use is to play a melody on the piano that I'm sure my students will recognize. Often, they will begin to sing the words without being cued. Then I say, "I never said a word. How did you know what the song was?" "The piano told us!" is their typical reply. That's what's called a melody, students. Being able to sing the words internally (audiation) while a simple melody is played is a great skill to develop. Hope this helps.
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