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

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekly Review 10/27 - 10/31

Happy Friday, and Happy Halloween!!

This week, the first graders continued working on their sol, la, and mi solfege singing.  To help celebrate Halloween, we listened to some fun classical music in minor while they decorated bats, then played a great game called "Flap and Fly."  Bats are nocturnal, meaning that they sleep in the daytime and are awake at night.  Bats were asleep while the lights were on, then a student (the Sun) turned off the lights so the bats could dance and sing!  When the sun came up, the lights were turned back on and the bats fell asleep.  We also sang a call and response song called "Woman All Skin and Bones."
First grade sleeping bats

The second graders read a book, "Old Wind," and used various instruments as sound effects.  It was so much fun to add the instruments and vocal sounds to make the book sound even cooler!  We recorded the students' performances, and we will share them next week - so stay tuned!  They also got to meet our special friend, the skeleton marionette!  He danced while we listened to "Funeral March of the Marionette" by French composer Charles Gounod.

In third grade, the students repeated their "Funeral March of a Marionette" activity from last year- they loved it so much!  We compared the music from that piece to the "Funeral March" by another composer, Frédéric Chopin.  Even though they are both in the minor tonality, they have such a different mood!

The fourth grade students are almost ready for next week's Veteran's Day assembly!  They rehearsed the music for their featured part of the song, and also learned the other parts so they can sing along.  In chorus, they worked on their grade level song, "Stars that Twinkle and Shine," as well as the slow and lyrical "Candlelight Canon."

The fifth graders did an awesome listening activity this week! They followed a listening map for "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saens.   It's based off of a poem by Henri Cazalis and features a violin soloist.  I (Mrs. Rzasa) played some of the themes on my violin so they could find them as we listened to the song.  We also listened to a spooky song with a cool secret twist by Henry Cowell.  Ask your 5th grader what the surprise is!

We hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5th Grade Music Listening

This week, the 5th graders are listening to some spooky pieces of music!  The students were interested in listening to them at home, so here they are!

The Banshee by Henry Cowell


Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns

Monday, October 27, 2014

String Update/Assignment

Third Graders
Today was our first day with the bow  :)  There was a lot of excitement, and a lot of things to remember. If you forget anything, please consult the guide below!  


  • Get a bow tube, a.k.a. an empty toilet paper roll, to help with your bow control
  • Bow exercises
  • Page 8 (pizzicato)
  • String names sheet (with bow!)

Fourth Graders
4A: Today we reviewed our bow technique, and practiced playing on the different strings!


  • Page 10 - pizzicato first, then bow
4B:  Today we continued to work on our G string notes.  Reading the notes below the staff is a bit tricky!   If you forget, look back in the book a page or 2 for a reminder.   We also played through the songs on page 27 and learned how to conduct in 3!

  • Page 28
  • First 3 measures of Submarine song


To Hold the Bow:
Start by making your little "shadow puppet," making sure to place the middle fingers over the thumb.

Following the steps I taught in class, hold the bow as shown below- the trickiest part will be that pinky!

In addition to the windshield wiper exercise we practiced today, please watch these videos and give them a try:

These exercises should be fun, and also count towards your minutes of practicing! :)

When using the bow tube, please be sure to hold it firmly with your left hand on your left shoulder, and to place the bow inside carefully.  Keeping the proper position of your right hand on the bow, pretend to play the violin through your tube.  Your right hand wrist should be flexible to bend up and down as you bow.  To make it more fun, you can listen to some music while you practice!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekly Review 10/19-10/24

Thanks to our wonderful PTO, the Burlington Music Department, and our music friends and Francis Wyman, Mrs. Rzasa and I were able to purchase this wonderful educational rug for all of our students. The students walked in with excitement with this new addition to our classroom:

In first grade, students learned the words crescendo (a gradual increase in loudness of the song)  and decrescendo (a decrease in loudness of the song) with a fun October song called, "The Bats Are All Asleep." Mrs. Rzasa and I created a story and every time the students had to sing the phrase, "The Bats Are All Asleep," the had to sing it using decrescendo. We also learned another song called, "Thump, Thump, Thump" that involved the students singing certain phrases with these new musical terms. We made the song more spooky by adding the egg shaker, hand drums, and triangles. The students loved it and had so much fun!

Second grade students reviewed the song "Ghost of John" from first grade and added an ostinato (repeated musical phrase) with boomwhackers. The words, "Ghost of John" became the ostinato on the pitches D/E and B/A.  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!

In third grade students  reviewed the song "Ghost of John" from first grade and added an ostinato (repeated musical phrase) with boomwhackers. The words, "Ghost of John" became the ostinato on the pitches D/E and B/A. We also added a triangle and a thunder drum. Here are some videos of our third grade students performing, "Ghost of John."They learned a new song and game called "Pass the Broomstick," which is also in a minor tonality

Fourth grade students have been busy preparing for their Veteran's Day Assembly on Friday, Nov. 7th at 8:30am. Here are the lyrics if you need them: Veteran's Day Songs. They also continued learning, "Stars that Twinkle and Shine."

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 how to play the Orff instruments and how to hold the mallots properly on a C Major scale. We also learned two ostinato parts of the song. Next week, we will add other instrumental parts of the song. In chorus, we continued working on, "Candle For Peace" and "Candlelight Cannon."

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ghost of John

This week, the third graders sang one of their favorite Halloween songs, "Ghost of John."  We added an accompaniment part on the Boomwhackers and triangles.  In addition, our classroom Superheroes had the opportunity to play the coveted thunder drum!  Half of the class sang the melody, and the other half sang a vocal ostinato pattern.  Check out their videos!

Monday, October 20, 2014

String Update/Assignment

Third Graders
Today we reviewed the fingerings for E, F#, and G (1, 2, and 3 fingers covering the tapes on the D string).

This week, please practice page 7, and bring in a bow tube for the next class.  The bow tube is an empty (and clean!) toilet paper roll that will help us control our bows!

Fourth Graders
4A:  Today we reviewed the fingerings for E, F#, and G.  We also started to work on our bowing hand position!  Please consult THIS LINK in case you forget  :)

This week, please practice pages 8 and 9.  Do pizzicato first, and if you feel ready, go ahead and try it with the bow!

4B:  Today we learned the notes on the G string!  We also worked on the first measure of the Submarine song, and played using accents!

This week, please practice pages 26-27, and the first 3 measures of the Submarine song.

Below is a video of our first-year fourth graders working on their fingerings!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly Review 10/13 - 10/17

This week, the first graders played "Apple Tree" - a really fun game with a silly song!  One student was the apple tree, and the other students held hands as they walked past him/her.  At the end of the song, each apple tree dropped a soft ball (the apple) onto the head of one of the students!  That student became the new apple tree, and students who were already the tree got the opportunity to play an egg shaker! They also did the all-time favorite "Looking for Dracula" activity, as well as "Ghost of John" and "The Bats are All Asleep."  Then, they learned all about the words crescendo and decrescendo.

The second grade students finished the story, "Bony Legs."  They played an ostinato on the Orff instruments- xylophone, metallophone, and glockenspiel.  Nathan is demonstrating excellent posture and mallet technique.  

They also reviewed the "Ghost of John" song from last year and added a fun instrument- Boomwhackers!!

Above is a video of the second graders dancing to Prelude in C from the Well Tempered Clavier by Bach

The third graders also used the Orff instruments this week- everyone played the accompaniment to "9 Lives" once more, but with a twist!  Instead of playing the D and A at the same time, they learned a really cool cross-over mallet technique!  For their second music class, they sang "Ghost of John" and added Boomwhackers and triangles!  Half of the class sang an ostinato pattern, and the other class sang the melody.  We also tried a round!

The fourth graders played instruments to accompany "Black and Gold," then they continued to work on their music for Veteran's Day.  Only a few weeks left until the concert!  In chorus, they started a new song- the "Candlelight Canon."  It is a slow and beautiful piece of music.   Ask your child what the song makes them think of!

The fifth graders completed "I Love the Mountains" and had some time left over to start a new song- "Halloween Night."  They read off of the score, and learned what "d minor" means! (the tonality is minor, and the tonic pitch is d).  In chorus, the students sang "A Candle for Peace," and our new song, "Candlelight Canon."

We hope you enjoy this lovely weekend!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekly Review 10/6-10/10

Our first grade friends continued to learn more about our composer Bach by listening to Prelude in C from the Well Tempered Clavier and performing their own dance with their partner. Students first listened to the composition with their eyes close and had to describe the music. Each student performed their own interpretation of the song with their partner. One student was the leader and the other student mirrored the movement of the leader. Partners came up with their own "secret code" and when the "secret code" was performed by the leader, the other student became the leader. It was so much fun!

Second grade students accomplished a lot in music this week.  Students created their "I'm An Acorn" song accompanied by rhythm sticks or a cabasa. They listened to  Prelude in C from the Well Tempered Clavier and performed their own dance with their partner. Although this dance was a review to them from first grade, they had so much fun creating their own interpretation of the composition.  We also listened to part of a story called, "Bony Legs." The students can't wait to find out how the story ends and we will be putting instruments to the song that is also titled, "Bony Legs." Stay tuned!!

In third grade, we put percussion instruments to each rhythm on the song, "Ding Dong." Triangles were played every time there was a quarter note, hand drums were played every time there was a eighth note, and guiros were played every time there was an sixteenth note. Here is a performance from Mrs. Ferullo's class:

We also learned a song called, "Nine Lives." The tonality (the key) is in minor and we added a simple accompaniment with Orff instruments. Next week, we will be adding more accompaniments to this song.

Fourth graders are continuing to prepare for their Veteran's Day concert on Friday, November 10th. We also learned a fun October song in a minor key called, "Black and Gold." Next week, we will be learning the partner song that goes with that composition and will also add an Orff accompaniment. In chorus, we finished learning, "Light Up the World," and "Holiday Holiday Lights." We also began to learn our 5th grade feature song, "Candle for Peace."

In fifth grade, we learned a catching song called, "I Love the Mountains." Students drew pictures on the board to help us remember to sing various parts of the song. We added a dance and an accompaniment using Orff instruments. In chorus, we finished learning, "Light Up the World," and "Holiday Holiday Lights." We also began to learn our 4th grade feature song, "Stars That Twinkle and Shine."

We hope you have a wonderful 3 day weekend!!!!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekly Review 9/29 - 10/3

Good morning!  This has been an action-packed week here in the music room:

The first grade students completed their "Loose Tooth" activity.  Half of the group performed the chant, while other students had the opportunity to play hand percussion instruments!  "Loose tooth" was performed on the hand drum (quarter notes), "wiggly jiggly" on the guiro (eighth notes), and "thread"/"bed"/"head" on the triangle (quarter note).  Of course, once we were done we switched so that everyone could have a turn!   The students have also been learning about the composer Bach, so we listened to his Prelude in C from the Well Tempered Clavier.   The students moved gracefully to the song, and will dance with partners in the next class!

Second grade students finished their "I'm an Acorn" song.  To extend the activity, they composed their own lyrics to fill in during the rhyming section of the song.   We also added fun hand percussion instruments like the rhythm sticks and cabasa!

The third graders sang a really fun song called "Dipidu."  Ask your child to see if they remember what "dipidu" means!  During the song, we switched between body percussion patterns in three (pat, clap, snap) and patters in two (pat, clap).  This is getting them ready to learn about time signatures and form!  The students also learned "Ding Dong" and figured out the rhythm of the song using quarter notes, eighth notes, quarter rests, and our new rhythm- sixteenth notes!

The fourth and fifth grade students have been working hard on their chorus songs.  "Light up the World With a Song" is so much fun to sing, and has a cool syncopated rhythm!  They have also been getting better at the concert's grand finale piece, "Holiday Lights."  We are so excited about the flashlight choreography, and can't wait until the students know the song well enough to start practicing it! 

Below is a video of the fourth graders singing their very first choral warm-up- aren't they incredible?