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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekly Review 3/24 - 3/28

Due to the PARCC testing this week, 1st graders attended music with 5th graders, 2nd grade with 3rd grade, and we even had a day where 3rd, 4th, AND 5th came at the same time!  This crazy schedule allowed us to take a small break from our regularly scheduled lessons, and show the students a fun movie :)

We watched Frozen, and it was delightful to hear many of the students singing along!  The children who were watching this movie for the first time seemed to enjoy themselves as well.  Frozen was nominated for and won many awards (including Best Original Song), so it was the perfect choice to show in music!

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekly Review- 3/17-3/21

The first grade students watched the movie,  " Peter and the Wolf"  After studying the story and the music in class, it was fun to see it portrayed as a cartoon.  Next week, we will finish the last 15 minutes of the movie and create our own "Peter and the Wolf" book. 

The second grade students continued to play the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. They are learning so much about each instrument family, and the instruments that belong in each. We have a few more games to unlock before we complete the Safari trip! It is amazing to see how much our students remember about each instrument family and their various sounds.

Many of our third grade students are on the green belt so we did some warm ups using the low note E and also went over how the eighth notes are suppose to be played. Please don't feel bad if you are not on the green belt yet! We would just like to see each child do his/her best and make progress during this recorder unit. Since all the students have visited each Recorder Center at least once, we will have new games and new worksheets next week! Feel free to use Joytunes to practice your recorder!

The fourth grade students were excited to compose music for the book,  "Jabuti." Students got into groups of four and began composing music for the pages that they were assigned to. Many of the groups experimented with a lot of the percussion and melodic instruments.

The fifth graders continued their composition of "Where the Wild Things Are." Many of the students began notating their compositions. We can't wait to hear what type of music they created for each page of the book.

Mrs. Rzasa and I were at a music conference on Thursday and Friday so we did not have chorus this week. We will resume next week.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Violin Assignment

Assignment for next week: page 18 and the new Concert Sheet

This week I gave the violin students a sheet containing a few of the songs that we will be performing in our Spring concert!  Although the assignment for this week is to work on that sheet, I don't expect the students to master all of the songs.  We will be working on these for the next few weeks :)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekly Review 3/10 - 3/14

Happy Pi Day! :)

This week, the first graders finished their listening map for Peter and the Wolf.  They now have a better understanding of the themes which represent each character in the story, as well as the instruments that are played.  Ask your child which character is their favorite!  They also prepared for St. Patrick's Day by singing "If You Ever See a Leprechaun?"  Once the students were familiar with the song, we added a glissando on the glockenspiel, as well as a part for the hand drum.

Another first grade activity from this week.

The second grade students reinforced each instrument family in the orchestra.  This was done through an interactive Touch It Board game called, "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." It is based on Benjamin Britten's musical composition of the same name.   It is a listening game that takes you on a safari adventure as you visit the four instrument families and unlock each of their games.

The third graders continued to enjoy their musical centers on Recorder Testing Day.  Remember:  If a child would like to get ahead on their Recorder Karate belts (or if they need extra help), then may visit us before 8:30 on their assigned day.  Some students are up to their green belts, so we reviewed the note E. We also had a blast playing Joy Tunes!!

The fourth grade students read the book, Jabuti.  It is a fable about a turtle in the Amazon rain forest.  The students will be composing music in small groups to go along with the story!  To prepare for this activity, we reviewed all of the hand percussion and melodic percussion instruments in our classroom (as well as the proper technique for playing each).

The fifth graders have started composing their music to go along with "Where the Wild Things Are"- and we are thrilled with their progress after only one class period!  Check out the video below of a group from Ms. Conceison's class:

In chorus, the students have been working on completing their pirate song, "Oceanus," and "I'se the B'y," so that we can focus on the last piece for our concert- "Reflections of a Lad at Sea."   This is a piece with three movements- each section evokes a different mood, and is sung with a different tempo. This song will be a lot of fun to sing because it tells a fantastic story!

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Violin Assignment

**Reminder:  Students in Mrs. Cyr's class will attend their lesson this Friday**

Assignment for next week:  Review page 15 (if needed), page 17.

Before I show you an awesome video from one of today's lessons, I wanted to remind parents of my expectations for practicing.  Home practice is an important part of learning a new instrument, but it should not be a cause for stress.  At minimum, I expect students to practice 30 minutes each week.  This can be split up in whichever way works best for your child: two 15 minute sessions, six 5 minute sessions, etc.  I understand, however, that there might be some weeks where this is not possible, due to other commitments at home.  If a child has a week with no practicing, I remind them to make sure they fit it in for the following week.

Skipping practicing all together will not give your child the opportunity to reinforce the concepts they learn in their lessons.  On the flipside, too much practicing can cause anxiety.  Please help your child find the balance that works best for them and your family.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.   I am so proud of the progress they have been making, and I hope that you have heard improvements at home as well! :)

Now, let's see that video!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Weekly Review 3/3- 3/7

In first grade, students continued to learn about Sergei Prokofiev's fairytale, "Peter and the Wolf." It is spoken by a narrator and accompanied by an orchestra. Each character in the story represents an instrument and has a musical theme:
We did a listening map activity which visually showed each section of the song.  Each part of the map included a fun activity, such as drawing the different characters and identifying different instruments. 

The second graders learned two new instrument families this week:  the woodwind family and the  string family.

Common Woodwind Family Instruments:

Common String Family Instruments:
Double Bass

Next week we be reviewing the four instrument families through an interactive game!

In third grade, we started 6 different activity centers for students to rotate to as Mrs. Rzasa and I test students for their recorder belts. Here are the following 6 centers:
   1.  Testing
   2.  Practicing
   3.  Rhythm Stick Game (making 4 beat rhythms with popsicle sticks)
   4.  Musical Game- Game of the week was, "Classical Snaps."
   5.  Composer's Corner- student compose their own music using B,A and G
   6.  Book Nook- Students silently read music books

We also spent time on a fun interactive game called, "JoyTunes" where students can master the recorder.  Joy Tunes (  This site is a great way for students to practice through recorder games.  To play, you need a computer with a microphone (most laptops have built-in mics).  You can also download the free app if you have an iPad (

You will need to make an account so the student's progress will be saved.  Here's how to do it:

Go to, and click "Play for Free"

Next, make a username, password, and type in your email address:

Click "CONNECT" to allow the site to access your microphone:

Now you're ready to play!  Have fun :)

Fourth and fifth grade students continued their compositions on Garage Band. They shared their compositions during the last half of the class. We have a lot of creative musicians!

In chorus, we learned the dance to the folk song, "I'se the B'y." It was a lot of fun as we sang the dance moves and danced with our partners. For those students that are interested in performing this dance at our Spring Concert, please let Mrs. Rzasa and I know! Next week, we will be learning our last chorus song!

Have a WONDERFUL weekend and enjoy the gorgeous weather!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Performance Day! (and violin assignment)

The assignment for next week:  D Scale (ascending/descending) with bow, pages 15-16 in the book.

I love performance days!  As a reminder, the first lesson of each month will be a "Performance Day," and students will have the opportunity to play a song of their choice!  I remind students to play something that represents their best work, however it should be a fun experience - nothing to get stressed over!  (I would rather them have fun playing a simple song then to have anxiety over playing something more difficult).  Mistakes are always okay :)

My goal is for all students to play confidently with others AND alone.  I think they have been doing an amazing job!  Check out some highlights below: