Mrs. Niu - Mrs. Rzasa -
For all information regarding the Memorial String Orchestra Program, please click HERE.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Danse Macabre

This week, the fifth graders have been learning about Danse Macabre, a tone poem composed by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.  A tone poem is "a piece of orchestral music, typically in one movement, on a descriptive or rhapsodic theme" (source)   Danse Macabre is based on a poem (of the same name) written by Henri Cazalis- you can read the translation from French to English below:

Zig, zig, zig, Death in cadence,
Striking with his heel a tomb,
Death at midnight plays a dance-tune,
Zig, zig, zig, on his violin.
The winter wind blows and the night is dark;
Moans are heard in the linden-trees.
Through the gloom, white skeletons pass,
Running and leaping in their shrouds.
Zig, zig, zig, each one is frisking.
The bones of the dancers are heard to crack-
But hist! of a sudden they quit the round,
They push forward, they fly; the rooster has crowed.

We discussed the story behind the poem, and how it served as an inspiration for Saint-Saëns.  We followed a listening map and identified the various themes in the music.

It's an amazing piece of music, with haunting melodies and an incredible violin solo- please check it out below!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Violin Lesson and Assignment

The students had an awesome second lesson this week! Here's the assignment for them to practice at home:

  • Book:  Page 6.  This is a difficult page, so I told the students to do their best (and to try not to get discouraged if they are having trouble).  We will be continuing to work on these first fingerings next week!
  • String Names Worksheet: (a), (b), and (c).  If your child would like more to practice, they may continue on to the other examples on this page.
  • Practice Sheet 1: 1-4  These are basically a continuation of what they practiced on pages 4 and 5 last week  (for number 4, they will be composing a short song using D and A)

Thank you!

Violin Schedule

Today's lesson schedule for violins:

Cyr: 8:30 - 9:00
Kippenberger: 10:30 - 11:00
Ferullo: 11:00 - 11:30
Keating:  12:40 - 1:05

Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekly Review 10/21 - 10/25

Good morning, and happy Friday!

This week, the first grade students completed their "Bats are all Asleep" and "Thump, Thump, Thump" songs and activities.  They started to learn how to decode melodic's how it works:  I sing a pattern using So and Mi on a neutral syllable, and the students need to listen to the pattern carefully and figure out the solfege.  It's quite tricky, and they have been doing an awesome job!  they also sang a new song in a minor tonality called, "Autumn Leaves."  They expressed themselves through movement with scarves, playing a mirroring game with a partner as they sang.  Some classes reviewed "Ghost of John," sang it as a round, and added an ostinato on the glockenspiel.

The second graders finished the fun game called "A Funny Little Lady."  It was fun to guess who was singing the solo!  They also sang "Witches' Brew," "Ghost of John," and "Woman All Skin and Bones."  It was enjoyable to review these favorite songs from first grade!  They also listened to "Funeral March of a Marionette," an amazing piece by French composer Charles Gounod.  (Some adults may recognize the tune as the theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents).   A few volunteers were able to manipulate a skeleton marionette as we listened.

The third grade students completed their "Pass the Broomstick" activity, and reviewed the "Ghost of John"- a song they sang in first grade.  We added an instrumental accompaniment to the song, using the metallophones, xylophones, and glockenspiels.  Students took turns playing the following ostinati as the rest of the class sang:

We reviewed proper posture, technique, and form while holding the mallets and sitting/standing at the instruments.  The students also had the opportunity to see some basic music notation- including half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, quarter rests, eighth rests, and repeat signs.

The fourth grade students are still chugging along, working on their music for Veteran's Day!  They have been enjoying singing the different Armed Forces tunes, as well as the Star Spangled Banner (our National Anthem!)

The fifth graders completed "Halloween Night" - complete with singing, xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels, drums, triangles, wood blocks, and cymbals!  One class even made a video to share with you- click HERE to check it out!

In chorus, the students learned the last section of "Grinch," as well as the second verse to "All I Want for Christmas is You."  We have been using PiaScore to read digital music in class, and the students have told us they prefer using iPads (instead of traditional folders and sheet music).

At the end of rehearsal, we went back onto the risers to run sections of "Grinch" and "All I Want for Christmas" - we even had a few students try out the solo parts!  Next week, the students will start to learn their last song...I can't wait!

I hope you have an incredible weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tissues, Please!

The music room is in need of tissues, and we would love it if you could donate a box.  Thanks!

Halloween Night

Good morning! Today, the fifth graders played an instrumental accompaniment to go along with the song "Halloween Night."

While they were practicing, I recorded a video so that you can check out their progress!  What you see below was only their first time playing these instrument parts- I was so impressed with their focus!  By the end of class, they were playing like pros :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

First Violin Lesson!

Today was the first violin lesson with instruments.  The students learned about posture, how to hold the instrument, pizzicato, and they read the A and D string notes on the staff!

Please encourage your child to practice and fill out the practice chart.  The assignment for all lesson groups this week is pages 4-5 in the book.   We are just plucking right now (pizzicato), so the bow is not needed for practice.  Thanks!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekly Review 10/15 - 10/18

Happy Friday!

This week, the first graders continued the spooky song, "The Bats are All Asleep."  We reviewed what a crescendo is, as well as the decrescendo.  We also started a new Halloween song called "Thump, Thump, Thump!"  It includes a story (that the students helped me to create), as well as a very dramatic crescendo.  Once the song was mastered, we added a drum, triangle, and maraca.  It was fun to take turns playing!

The second grade students continued to work on tonality, identifying major patterns and minor patterns.  We completed our "Witches' Stew" activity (complete with instrumental sound effects), sang a different song called "Witches' Brew" (funny that they have such similar names!), and even composed new lyrics!  The students also enjoyed a game and song called "A Funny Little Lady" guessed it...a witch!

The third grade students completed the "9 Lives" song and played a xylophone ostinato to go along with it.  They learned a new song and game called "Pass the Broomstick," which is also in a minor tonality.  The third graders in Ms. Johnson's class wanted to share the game with you- please check it out below:

The fourth grade students worked on their Veteran's Day music- they now know the tunes for the US Army, Navy, Marines, and the Coast Guard- only one more (Air Force) to go!   If your child would like to practice at home, they can find the lyrics HERE.

The fifth graders learned a spooky song called "Halloween Night."  They read along with the musical score, and identified the different pitches on the staff for the instrumental accompaniment. We reviewed the notation first, then some students played along while the rest sang.  We will complete this activity next week!

The chorus students continued to rehearse "All I Want for Christmas is You," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "Grinch."  Each grade level has one more song that we will hopefully get to start next week!  They are working hard to prepare for our Winter Concert (which will be on December 11th at 7:00pm)

Have a lovely weekend!

Violin Lesson Schedule

Below is the violin schedule for October-November.   Please note:
  • If a child ever has to miss a scheduled lesson (for example, if they cannot miss an intervention block), then they may attend the recess lesson.
  • All lessons are scheduled for Monday, with one exception- due to the Memorial master schedule, Mrs. Cyr's class needs to have a lesson on Friday once per rotation.  Please see the attached schedule, and send your child to school on those particular Fridays with their instrument/folder.
  • If you have any issues with the schedule, or have any concerns regarding your child, please don't hesitate to contact me! 
  • I will be giving students a printed copy of the schedule on Monday so they can keep it in their folder in case they forget their lesson time.
Thank you!

Classroom Teacher10/21-10/2510/28-11/1
KippenbergerMON. 8:30-9:00MON. 10:30-11:00
FerulloMON. 10:30-11:00MON. 11:00-11:30
KeatingMON. 11:00-11:30MON. 12:40-1:05
CyrMON. 12:40-1:05MON. 8:30-9:00
Classroom Teacher11/4-11/811/11-11/15 (no school Monday)11/18-11/2211/25-11/29 (no school Thurs-Fri)
KippenbergerMON. 11:00-11:30 no lessonMON. 12:40-1:05MON. 8:30-9:00
FerulloMON. 12:40-1:05no lessonMON. 8:30-9:00MON. 10:30-11:00
KeatingMON. 8:30-9:00no lessonMON. 10:30-11:00MON. 11:00-11:30
CyrFRI. 10:30-11:00no lessonMON. 11:00-11:30MON. 12:40-1:05

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekly Review 10/7 - 10/11

Good afternoon!  We had another fantastic week in's what we did:

The first grade students continued to work on beat- they played our "Beat in Your Feet" game, chanted "I can Keep a Steady Beat," and played "Beat Leaders" (while listening to a march by Sousa!).  They also sang the "Ghost of John" and "The Bats are All Asleep."  We discussed what it means to be nocturnal, and their new music vocabulary words this week were crescendo and decrescendo.  Some students also participated in an awesome activity called "Looking for Dracula."

In second grade, the students sang the minor scale.  They listened for the difference between major and minor tonalities, and reviewed the "Ghost of John" from first grade.  They sang the song with an ostinato, as well as in a round!  Some students learned a new song for Halloween called the "Witches' Stew"....we hope to add percussion instrument sound effects next week!

The third grade students played percussion instruments during "Ding Dong,"making sure to play on their assigned rhythmic patterns.  We rotated groups so that each student could play each part.

They learned a new song (in a minor tonality) called "9 Lives."  Some students even played the alto and soprano xylophones to match the melody!

The fourth and fifth grade students watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and listened carefully for the tunes that we are singing in our Winter Concert.  They also downloaded PiaScore, the app that we are using in chorus on their iPads!   In chorus, the students rehearsed "Grinch!," "All I Want for Christmas is You," and started a new song- "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

Please have a safe and wonderful three day weekend!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Weekly Review 9/30 - 10/4

Good afternoon!  Here's what Memorial students were doing in music class this week...

The first graders continued to learn about Bach. You can read more about him and his amazing music here.  It has been fun to listen to the organ- it is such a cool (and complicated!) instrument!  They also continued to work on their dynamicspiano and forte.  They learned about a musical beat, and how it differs from a rhythm.  We played a great game using a drum called "Put the Beat in Your Feet."  The poem, "I Think Music's Neat" has helped the students realize that the number of beats in a song or chant stays the same- even if you perform it with a different tempo!  Some classes started a spooky song called the "Ghost of John."

The second grade students sang "Alligator Pie," then added a new verse.  You can read the one that Mrs. Siegel's class came up with by clicking here!  The students added instrumental parts to "I'm a Nut," and some students wrote new lyrics for other verses in that song too.  The second graders also watched a neat video that is set to Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in G Minor."  Check it out:

The third graders finished their "Four White Horses" activity, and Mrs. Ferullo's class wanted to share their performance with you!

They also watched the "Toccata and Fugue" video, and some students watched a video for Bach's "Little Fugue." (Bach loved writing fugues!)  The students learned a silly song about a cat called "Ding Dong, Diggidiggi Dong," and it helped them to work on their quarter note, eighth note, and sixteenth note rhythms.

The fourth graders learned about partner songs (you can read about them here), and how they differ from rounds. They sang "Black and Gold" while I sang "Trick or Treat" - it sounded really cool!  They also worked on their Veteran's Day music.

The fifth graders sang a funny song called "I Love the Mountains."  We discovered that the melody is raised by one scale tone for each new phrase, and that the song can be sung as a round, or with an ostinato.  Once we learned each part, a student played from "do" to "la" on the bass metallophone, and another played the tricky ostinato on a bass xylophone while the class sang the round.

In chorus this week, we continued to work on the "Grinch" medley and "All I Want for Christmas is You."  Next week, the students will be getting their iPads set up with PiaScore- an app that will allow us to use digital music instead of paper copies!  It should be awesome!

We hope you have an incredible weekend!

Violin Update

I was so happy to see so many students enrolled for violin! If you have signed your child up already, you should have received an email from me today regarding sizing and the first two lessons.

If you have not registered yet, there is still time!  Please sign up over the weekend, and I will be able to size your child on Monday.  Once their size has been established, you can set up your rental with Music and Arts (if you are using them).

Please click here to register!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Composer of the Month: Johann Sebastian Bach

We start the year studying the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
Music students learn words to the subject of The Little Fugue in G minor to help them remember things about this great musician:

Johann Bach was fond of playing organ.
He's a master of the Baroque.
He'd write a fugue or cantata as a joke
Or as a break from raising 20 kids!

Students listen to the fugue and try to pick out the subject, which is repeated ______times.  Be careful, there's one false entrance!

The students in 1st though 4th grade got some practice counting,  so they were quite good at this.  When they were able to correctly count the number of times Bach artfully layered the subject,  they watched this video of the organ performance.

Fifth graders are learning about music notation by copying the subject of the fugue.  They reviewed the names of the pitches on the five lines (e, g, b, d, f) and in the four spaces (f, a, c, e) of the treble clef, then began to use rulers to make the stems for quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes, and for the beams that connect the eighth and sixteenth notes.  The rulers also help in making straight bar lines to separate each measure of four beats.

We also discuss Bach's life, and what it was like to live when he did (1685-1750).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A New Verse for a Fun Song :)

Today, Mrs. Siegel's second grade class sang the song, Alligator Pie.  It was so much fun to sing about Alligator Pie, Alligator Soup, and Alligator Stew!  We decided to add just one more verse.   The students all brainstormed, and here is what they came up with:

Alligator Cake,
Alligator Cake,
If I don't get some,
I think I'll steal a lake.
Give away my room,
Give away my rake,
But DON'T give away
My Alligator Cake!!

Excellent job, second graders!

What is a Round? What are Partner Songs?

Today, the fourth graders were discussing difference between rounds and partner songs.

Rounds are when two (or more) groups sing the same song at different times to create harmony.
Partner songs are when two different songs are sung at the same time to create harmony.

The picture below illustrates the difference.

Which do you prefer?