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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Weekly Review 2/24 - 2/28

Good afternoon!  Here is what we did in music this week:

The first grade students reviewed their solfege and rhythm syllables, and learned a new song called "Lucy Locket."  Once they knew the whole song, we played the fun Lucy Locket game!  One child ("Lucy") hid the pocket in the classroom for "Kitty Fisher" to find.  The rest of the class helped Kitty by varying their dynamics- singing louder as s/he was closer to the pocket, and more quietly if s/he was farther away.  They also started their unit on "Peter and the Wolf!"

The second graders have started their instrument family unit this week, starting with the percussion family. Last year, in first grade, the students learned about all of the hand percussion and melodic percussion instruments we have in the classroom.  This year, we are building upon it to include orchestral percussion instruments such as the snare drum, bass drum, gong, and crash cymbals!  We also started to learn about the brass family!

The third graders had a very exciting visitor this week.  You'll have to click on THIS link to find out who it was! (You'll also get to watch some videos!)  Almost all of the third grade students have passed the white belt- Mrs. Niu and I are so proud of them!  Some students are still working on the yellow belt song ("Merrily We Roll Along"), and others are up to the orange ("Gently Sleep")!  

The fourth graders had a very fun Garage Band lesson this week.  We used the iPads to compose music using loops and the digital instruments included on the app.  We will continue this lesson next week, and allow the students to share their creations with each other!  I cannot wait to hear each composition.

The fifth grade students have started a new composing unit as well.  We read "Where the Wild Things Are" to the classes, and we discussed how adding music would make the story more interesting.  What kind of music would work for each part of the story?  Which instruments would be most appropriate to get the perfect sound?  Next week, they will experiment in small groups and compose a short piece to ago along with their assigned part of the story.

In chorus, we continued our "Songs of the Sea" - we are almost ready to start learning the last song!!  We are all looking forward to the Spring concert. Please mark your calendars for May 15th! :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Amazing Accordion!

"Papa Restivo," the grandfather of two of our third grade students visited Memorial today!  He is an amazing accordion player who shared his talent with us!

We learned a lot about the accordion, including the function of its different parts.  The melody is played with the right hand, while the left hand plays a bass and chord accompaniment.  Air is forced through the bellows of the instrument as the performer squeezes it, which helps to produce the sound.

It's no wonder why it is sometimes referred to as a "squeeze box!"

 dancing along with the Hokey Pokey!

We have a few videos of today's performance to share....scroll down to the last one to hear an accordion and recorder ensemble. Enjoy! :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Violin Assignment

Assignment for next week:  D scale, page 14

The violin students are continuing to work on mastering the notes on the D and A strings.   In order to play written music, students must be able to read and process the notes on the page, then play them on the instrument.  If your child is having trouble with this, please remind them to speak (or even better, sing) the notes first with the proper rhythm.  Once s/he can identify the pitches, they can then try to play the song on their instrument at a slow tempo....increasing speed only when they are comfortable!

I'm so proud of the work your children are doing, and I hope to post more videos next week during our monthly PERFORMANCE LESSON!! :)

Weekly Review- 2/10- 2/14

This week was our last week playing the violins before they traveled to a different school in Burlington. Some of our 5th graders had the opportunity to play the cello and the viola.

In first grade, the students finished their violin unit with the song, "Mississippi Hot Dog." They were asked to perform this song on any of the four open strings.  We learned a cute movement song called, "Tony Chestnut" which involved active participation. We sang this song in three different tempos and bursted out laughing after each one because we had so much fun! We also learned a Valentine's Day dance called, " Will You Be My Valentine?" There were two words that the students did not recognize- "Ja" and "Nein." These words mean "Yes" and "No" in German. Each student dances with a partner in a circle and on the word "Nein," the partners turns their back against each other and ends up with a new partner. It was so much fun to see who are new partner was going to be!

Second grade students completed their last day of violin with learning, "Hot Cross Bun" and the beginning of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." These two songs are challenging to play because students had to put their left fingers on the fingerboard while playing pizzicato with their right hand. We also learned a fun jazzy Valentine's Day song called, "Special Valentine." Students got to sing who they would like to send their "special" Valentine to. Categories included celebrity, pet, and friend in your class. 

Congratulations to our third grade students for passing the "Hot Cross Bun" and earning their first belt! Mrs. Rzasa and I are so proud of you all! We also learned the yellow belt song- Merrily We Roll Along. This song gives practice on the notes of B, A and G.  Here are the finger positions for the first three notes we have learned:

Here is what Mrs. Rzasa and I are assessing on the belt test-

- Accurately plays pitches

- Accurately plays rhythm with a consistent tempo
- Blows gently and presses firmly to avoid squeaks

Fourth and Fifth grade students all played the violin using the bow. They were so excited to perform with the bow. For our fourth grade students, it was their first time using a bow. Many of them did not realize that they had to prepare the bow by applying rosin. We learned two different strokes- up bow and a down bow. We found it that it was more difficult than it looked to play the bow steadily. Some of our fifth graders go the privilege to play "Hot Cross Bun" on a viola and/or a cello.

Due to the snow day on Thursday and a 2 hour delay on Friday, we did not have chorus this week. We will resume chorus rehearsal when we get back for the February break.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekly Review 2/3 - 2/7

This week, the first graders celebrated our most recent holiday- Groundhog's Day- by singing a fun song about Punxsutawney Phil.  We added fun hand motions, then played a groundhog game.  One child was selected to be the groundhog, sleeping in the center of the circle.  Following the beat of the song, the other students walked around the groundhog while singing.  At the end of the song the sleeping groundhog woke up, and named the first person that he or she saw. That new friend became the next groundhog!  The first graders also practiced their quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests by chanting with syllables: du, du-de, and a silent beat for the rest.

The second grade students had a great time with a movement activity.  In the past few weeks we have danced to different classical songs, progressed to country, and now they are moving along with pop music!  It is fun to respond to the music and to follow the beat.  They also learned a song about the groundhog.  Once they could sing the song, two vocal ostinato patterns were added.  For their second class of the week, they transferred the ostinati to Orff instruments (such as xylophone and glockenspiel).

This was a HUGE week for the third graders!  They finally received their recorders!  If your child is in third grade, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
  • The students need to bring their recorders to class for each music day.  Mrs. Niu and I will be taking "recorder attendance," and three or more unprepared days will result in a call home.  The students will learn best when they have their instrument in school!
  • Recorders are only allowed to be played in music and outside of school.  Please remind your child not to play on the bus or in their regular classroom.
  • To help students succeed, home practice is necessary.  Please have your child aim for 5 minutes each day.  Of course, more is always good too!  Since the recorders are new, they will likely practice a lot- but this may fade in the coming weeks.  Ask your child to play for you to help encourage them!
  • To clean the recorders, you may wash them with warm soapy water, or place them in the TOP RACK of the dishwasher. 
  • Thank you- we appreciate your patience and support as your child learns a new instrument!
The fourth and fifth graders have been doing such a great job with the violins.  They have already mastered "Hot Cross Buns," and many of them can play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!"  This week we also started to use the bow.  Next week is the last chance we will have to play the classroom violins before they travel to a different elementary school in Burlington.  We will miss having them, but it's been a fun learning experience!  In chorus they worked more on their new pirate songs, as well as the lyrical "Oceanus."

We hope you have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the snow! :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Violin Assignment

Assignment for next week: Page 13 (including Rosin Raps), bow tube practice, D scale

(please note:  the lesson for Mrs. Cyr's class will be this Friday)
Today the students reviewed the notes on the D and A strings, and played both an ascending and descending scale.  We reviewed the songs from page 12, using pizzicato and the bow.  Below is a video of some students from Mrs. Ferullo's class performing "Song for Christine."

We also practiced the Rosin Rap...please encourage your child to practice it along with their songs for the week!  I have noticed that some of the students are "forgetting" to practice- ask them to play a song for you from their book to help motivate them! Thanks for your support! :)