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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Weekly Review 12/14 - 12/18

This was a very busy week in music!  I first want to congratulate all Fourth and Fifth Graders for an amazing job at the Winter Concert this Wednesday!!

The first graders also had an exciting performance.  We have been teaching them what it means to be a part of the community, and how you can bring people together through song.  As a gift to the school, the students took part in a Winter Sing-A-Long during their music class on Thursday and Friday.  A big thank you to the older siblings who came down, as well as the parents who took time out of their day to join us!

The second graders finished watching The Nutcracker.  They really enjoyed watching the New York City Ballet dance along to music composed by Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky.  It's amazing to see the strength and coordination necessary to do ballet - the performers are truly athletes!

The third grade students reviewed verse and refrain form.  A popular wintertime song in verse and refrain form is Jingle Bells!   They learned this tune back in first grade, but this week they learned a dance to go along with it!  The Jingle Bells Mixer is a fun circle dance performed with partners.  They did an amazing job!  For their second music class, they had a great time with Music Mad Libs.  We will post their hilarious songs on the blog soon :)

After all of their hard work preparing for the Winter Concert, the fourth and fifth grade students deserved a break.   For their second music class this week, we watched a video of the performance for self-assessment purposes.  Next week, we will be taking them out to the playground to celebrate!

We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Weekly Review (12/7-12/11)

It's been a busy week in music especially for our 4th and 5th graders. They have been working so hard to prepare for their Winter Concert. Just a reminder that the Winter Concert will be next Wednesday, December 16th at 7:00pm.

  • Concert Attire:  

Morning - The students may wear regular school clothes in the daytime - but please no t-shirts with logos or words. During this time, students will be performing for the whole school.
Evening - Plain white tops, black bottoms, and black shoes.  Festive holiday accessories may also be worn, as long as they do not obstruct the view of another child on the risers.

  • Call Time:
Please make sure that your child arrives to the school no later than 6:40 p.m. Band students will report to the music room, string students will report to the lesson room, and chorus students who do not play an instrument will report to the Art Room at 6:50pm.

We hope to see you all on Wednesday evening!

Our first grade students reviewed, " Jingle Bells" in sign language and played a fun game using jingle bell instruments. We are also preparing for our, "Winter Sing Along" next Thursday and Friday at 1:30pm.

Classes will perform on the following dates:

  • Thursday, Dec. 17th- Mrs. Farrell and Mrs. Panagiotopoulos
  • Friday, Dec. 18th- Mrs. Burnham and Mrs. Gearin

Parents are welcome to join us and sing along!  We have talked to the students about the wonderful tradition of caroling, and how it brings the community together in song.  They would really love to hear their loved ones singing with them!

**If you would like to dismiss your child after the assembly, please send a note to the office.

In second grade , we watched a video of "The Nutcracker." It was performed by the New York City Ballet.  The students now know that in a ballet, the story is conveyed through dance and movement instead of through spoken words.  The only voice you hear is the narrator, who occasionally speaks to give extra details about the story.

The third graders reviewed music notation on their IPAD and learned a fun song to help remember the name of the notes. Ask your child to sing the song for you!  Our recorder unit is coming up! Mrs. Rzasa and I sent home information about the recorder and the Lexington Symphony Field Trip. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions! Here are some pictures of two students playing, "Musical Twister."

Here are some pictures of our 5th graders dancing to the song, "Jingle Bells"

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Weekly Review 11/30 - 12/4

Wow, we can't believe that it is December already!   Here's a brief overview of what we did in music this week:

The first graders finished their Turkey Tango game from last week.  It was so much fun to see which rhythm feather would be plucked from the Rhythm Turkey, and which dares would be given to us by the Dare Turkey!  They also learned about two important music words:  verse and refrain.  Then they sang "Jingle Bells" and identified which parts of the song are the verse, and what part is the refrain.  Some students also learned sign language to accompany some of the words of the song!

The second grade students learned about our new composer for December, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He is a Russian composer who wrote The Nutcracker.   Then, they reviewed the March (a song from The Nutcracker that they danced to in first grade).  Each student listened carefully to the different themes in the song and moved like soldiers, puppets, and mice!  Then, they learned a brand new dance for the Trepak.  The students even danced with scarves!

The third graders have started their music notation unit to help prepare them for the recorder.  First, they learned about the staff, and then we added the treble clef, time signature, bar lines, double bar line (or repeat sign if desired), and labeled the measures.  The students did a wonderful job drawing the treble clef - it can be tricky! Here are some pictures:

The fourth and fifth grade students have been preparing for their December 16th Winter Concert.  We can't wait to see you there!

Monday, November 30, 2015

String Update/Assignment

We had another great day of lessons today!

Not much to share except….Practice! :)
To play along with the recordings, click HERE.

Only 2 orchestra rehearsals left until the concert.  I'm excited…are you?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Weekly Review 11/23-11/27

Since we only had two days of music this week, our 4th and 5th graders tried out for dancing and instrumental parts for their Winter Concert while our 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders continued to play the, "Turkey Tango" game. Mrs. Ferullo's class also performed "The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven" to Mrs. Cyr's class. Here is their performance:

Here is Mrs. Cyr's and Mrs. Ferullo's class performing the Turkey Tango:

Mrs. Rzasa and I are so thankful to be a part of your child's musical life. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

Monday, November 23, 2015

String Update and Assignment

We had an excellent day of lessons today, and an AMAZING orchestra rehearsal last Thursday!

Of course, the assignment this week is for all students to continue practicing their concert music.  Today we worked on Jazzy Old Saint Nick, and everyone was able to play through the whole song - it was great!  Here are a few things to remember:

  • Violins - you have a low 2 on the A string: C natural.  Your first finger will land on the tape, and your second finger will squish up against it (between the first and second tapes).
  • Violas - There is a tricky part right before rehearsal 11.  Play the C natural (low second finger) on the A string, followed by a regular F# (on the tape) on the D string.  
  • Cellos - Keep counting those half notes!  You play your notes for two beats each, while the violins are playing (faster) quarter notes.
  • Bass - Focus on the quarter notes you have, especially the ones you play when the rest of the orchestra is playing a whole note.
Visit the Orchestra Recordings page to play along with the piano accompaniment.  This will help you practice. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Next week, there is no school on Thursday due to parent/teacher conferences.  Orchestra rehearsal will be at recess on TUESDAY, December 1st.  

Here's a video of our violin/bass 4th grade lesson group.  It's so exciting to have a bass player this year to round out the orchestra!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Weekly Review 11/16 - 11/20

Happy Friday!

This week, the first graders reviewed their fun "Hello Mr. Turkey" activity from last week.  Then, they watched the Marvelous Musical Mansion.  It follows three children who visit a special musical mansion to solve a mystery.  They sing folk songs and familiar rhymes, learn about instruments, and compose a tune.  We will finish the video next week!

The second grade students finished the "5 Fat Turkeys" song.  They played two different ostinato patterns on the Orff Instruments:  metallophone, glockenspiel, and xylophone.  They also reviewed their mallet technique so that the accompaniment would sound beautiful!  For their second music class, they learned about a popular dance style called the tango.  They played the Turkey Tango game which helped them review how to read rhythms.

Third grade students learned about verse and refrain form while singing a hilarious song called "The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven"(to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean").  There are 5 verses in this song, and each was assigned to a different group of students.  The groups acted out and sang their verse in front of the class.   When we got to the refrain (also called a chorus), the whole class sang together!  Check out the videos from Mrs. Kipp and Mrs. Gerry's classes:

The fourth and fifth graders have been working hard to prepare for our December 16th concert.  They finished learning all chorus songs, and now we will be memorizing the lyrics!  Students may practice at home by using THIS LINK.  We also auditioned the students who are interested in the solo parts - they all did an amazing job!  In addition, the fifth graders played the Turkey Tango game, reviewed some tricky music terminology, and finally watched the video for the haunting orchestral piece, Danse Macabre.

We hope you have an awesome weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2015

String Update/Assignment

As we approach our concert (only one month away!  December 16th), students should be practicing ALL concert music!!

Here is a list of our pieces:

  • D Major Scale and Round
  • Frere Jacques and Round
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Jazzy Old Saint Nick
  • Tango and Cha-Cha (5th grade only!)
  • Concerto for Triangle
4th graders will be starting Jazzy Old Saint Nick in their next lesson. Other than that, students should have all concert music.  

Don't forget:
  • Our full orchestra meets Thursday at recess.  Bring all of your music to this Thursday's rehearsal!
  • Play-along recordings will be added as I finish them.  So far we have two - you can check them out HERE and play along to Jazzy Old Saint Nick and Concerto for Triangle!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekly Review 11/9-11/13

Although we had a short week in school this week, three days of school did not stop us from having fun in music!

Congratulations to all our 4th grade students who sang so beautifully at our Veteran's Day Assembly! 

Our first graders learned a Thanksgiving song called, " Hello Mr. Turkey How Are You?" Every time we sang the phrase, "hello Mr. Turkey," we had to find a new friend in the room to shake hands with. It was also fun to gobble and wobble like a turkey. We also learned a song called, "Over the River and Through the Woods." It is also a children's classic which we read in class last week. After learning the first verse of the song, the students learned how to sing the song in sign language. Here is Mrs. Panagiotopoulous and Mrs. Farrell's class signing and performing the song:

The second grade students sang "Five Fat Turkeys," then learned two percussion ostinato parts to go along with the song. The ostinato parts were, "Cook- Cook" and "Five-Fat-Tur-keys." An ostinato is a repeated rhythm or a phrase. Each of the students played the ostinato parts either on a xylophone or on a glockenspiel.

The third graders learned a harvest song and sang about pumpkins, autumn breezes, and Thanksgiving! Once they mastered the song ("Pumpkins are Ripe"), they were able to play an ostinato (accompaniment part) on the Orff instruments. They reviewed mallet technique and focused on playing with a steady beat and accurate rhythm. Half the class performed on the Orff instruments while the other half of the class performed an interpretative dance to this song. Here are some performances:

In chorus, our 4th and 5th grade students finished learning Happy Holidays/Auld Lang Syne and Five Favorite Holiday Songs. Please start memorizing your lyrics!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2015

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A:  Today we played through "Frere Jacques" - the students did an excellent job learning the song by rote, and then we went back and checked our staff notation!


  • D Major Scale
  • Frere Jacques
  • Continue to work on Concerto for Triangle

4B/C:  Today we rehearsed Concerto for Triangle. Some of the violinists received an adapted part - you may recycle your old one!

  • D Major Scale
  • Frere Jacques
  • Concerto for Triangle
  • Carol of the Bells

Fifth Graders
5A/B:  Today we ran through Carol of the Bells and Concerto for Triangle (and one group also did Jazzy Old Saint Nick).  We played with the piano accompaniment, and it was a blast!

  • D Major Scale
  • All concert tunes!

This Thursday is an orchestra rehearsal for Violas, Cellos, and Bass ONLY.  Violins- please continue to practice at home.

I will be added recordings to the blog for you to practice with.  They can be found HERE.  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekly Review 11/2 - 11/6

This week, the first graders performed different rhythmic patterns as solos!  It was fun to read each rhythm on the board, then translate them to body percussion (clapping).  We also discussed some important musical opposites:  high vs. low pitch.  We explored our high and low voices with the Splat Game, then learned how to sing "Bluebird."  The end of the song goes from a high to a low pitch!  Then, the students played the Bluebird circle game.  To prepare for Thanksgiving, we read "Over the River and Through the Wood" - next week, the students will sing the song.

The second grade students read a story called "Old Wind."  There are many different characters in the story, and each was represented by a different instrument.  The students played the hand drum, sand blocks, ratchet, vibraslap, whip, glockenspiel, chimes, or made sound effects with their voices.  Next week, we will share their recordings!

The third grade students finished their Ghost of John activity on the Boomwhackers.  We even added fun hand percussion instruments - the triangle and thunder drum!  We also brought out an old friend, Bony Legs, and he helped us learn the "Funeral March of the Marionette" by French composer Charles Gounod.   Then, we started a Harvest song: "Pumpkins are Ripe." Next week we will add the Orff instruments!

The fourth graders rehearsed their Veteran's Day music. We invite you to attend their assembly on Monday, November 9th at 1:15 p.m.  Please remind your child to wear red, white and blue. We can't wait to see you there!

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!

In chorus, all fourth and fifth grade students continued to work on Happy Holidays/Auld Lang Syne. Then, we rehearsed our newest piece, "Five Favorite Holiday Songs."  Some groups also worked on their grade level songs.

We hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, November 2, 2015

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A:  Today we played the "Concerto for Triangle" up to measure 9, then started "Carol of the Bells."  Remember to check the fingering guide (highlighted strings) if you have difficulties with your notes!


  • D Major Scale
  • Concerto for Triangle - see how far you can get!  Play pizzicato first, then add the bow.
  • Carol of the Bells
4B/C:  Today we played through all of Carol of the Bells.  Sadly, we only had time to play a little bit of the Concerto for Triangle.

  • D Major Scale
  • Concerto for Triangle - Try to play through the whole piece!
  • Carol of the Bells - G F# G E pattern - play this 20 times in a row.  Good luck! :)

Fifth Graders:
5A/B:  We played through all of Carol of the Bells - great job!

  • D Major Scale
  • Concerto for Triangle - All
  • Carol of the Bells - All.  Practice switching between pizzicato and arco (bowed) sections!
I'm looking forward to this Thursday's full orchestra rehearsal. See you there! :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Weekly Review 10/26-10/30

To help bring in the festives of October such as Halloween, first graders listened to some fun classical music in minor while they decorated bats, then played a great game called "Flap and Fly."  Bats are nocturnal, mammals 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 revisted a song from last week called, "The Bats Are All Asleep,"where two musical terms were introduced- decrescendo( a gradual decrease in volume)  and crescendo (a gradual increase in volume). Here is Mrs. Farrell's and Mrs. Gearin's class performing the song:

In second grade, we completed our "Witches' Stew" activity with hand percussion sound effects. Students got a chance to pick various instruments and played them on the words Ew, Ick, Ugh, and Yuck. The students really enjoyed it! We also sang a different song called "Witches' Brew" and composed new lyrics!

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 sang the "13 Days of Halloween" in a minor tonality, and some students helped with the lyrics by holding up posters at the appropriate time during the song.

The fourth graders played Orff instruments to accompany "Black and Gold," and learned the partner song called, "Trick or Treat." They also continued to work on their music for Veteran's Day.  Only a few weeks left until the concert! Here is a video of Mrs. Harlow's class performing the partner songs.

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, added percussion instruments and ghost and goblins! Here is Mrs. Olshaw's and Mr. Rabazzi's class performing this song:

In chorus, we learned "Happy Holidays/Auld Lang Syne" which has a gospel swing feel that melts into the famous, Auld Lang Syne. We also learned our grand finale song, "Five Favorite Holidays." It is a medley of popular holiday songs that features five different pop styles.

We hope you have a Spook-taculous weekend!

First Orchestra Rehearsal!

We had an AMAZING orchestra rehearsal yesterday.  The fourth and fifth grade string students gathered in the lesson room with their instruments and music at recess and made Memorial history!  This was the first combined orchestra rehearsal at our school since the 1980s.

I was so impressed with how quickly they set up their instruments, then listened for directions on where to stand.  I was also thrilled to see all of their smiling faces! Everyone was so excited to hear how the music would sound with ALL of the parts being played together to create harmony.

There are 5 students in our group who have only been playing their instruments for four weeks - and they did an awesome job keeping up with the others who have been playing for one or two years.

We started with a scale (in unison and a round) to warm up, then started to rehearse the Concerto for Triangle.  We worked on big stuff - like our rhythms and pitches - then had time to focus on the small details, like bowings and articulations.  We even had some volunteers demonstrate as solos!

I was so busy conducting that I almost forgot to take photos or a video!  Luckily, we had some time to record two measures from the piece.  Listen to that harmony!

After the Concerto for Triangle, we got started on a new song, Carol of the Bells.  The repeated part is so much fun to play!

I can't wait until next Thursday's rehearsal :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Bats Are All Asleep

We hope you enjoy this video of the first graders performing "The Bats Are All Asleep."  The students learned about dynamics: piano, forte, crescendo, and decrescendo.  See if you can hear the volume of their voices change during the song!

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders:
4A:  Yesterday we started working on our concert music!  I am so happy to have such determined and hard-working students.  We have been doing a lot of hard work to prepare for our December concert.  It's tough because you are all on brand new instruments!  Here's a video of group 4A practicing Concerto for Triangle:


  • D Major Scale
  • See how far you can get on Concerto for Triangle. If you get stuck on a note, you can check in the book to see how to finger it!  Don't get discouraged if you have trouble - just let me know next time you see me and I can help you out :)
4B/C:  To be honest, most of the students in these lesson groups forgot to practice.  Practicing at home is so important to ensure that skills learned in our Monday lessons are reinforced throughout the week.  Let me know if you are having trouble remembering, and I can send you home with reminders!   

  • D Major Scale
  • ALL of Concerto for Triangle
Fifth Graders:
5A/B:  Yesterday the students ran through the Concerto for Triangle.  Then, we played through all of Jazzy Old Saint Nick.  Since we had extra time, we were able to start the new song, Carol of the Bells.

  • Work on all of the music we have so far for our concert, focusing on Concerto for Triangle.

**This Thursday is our first combined 4th and 5th grade orchestra rehearsal.  Please send your child to school on Thursdays with their instrument and music. Thank you!**

Friday, October 23, 2015

Weekly Review 10/19 - 10/23

It has been a busy week for the first graders! First, they learned an awesome game called So La Mi.  The whole class plays against the teacher, and points are awarded to the students if they echo all patterns except for "so la mi." If someone sings by mistake, the teachers get a point!  This was a great way to reinforce the solfege syllables.  They sang a spooky song in minor tonality - "Ghost of John" - then learned "The Bats Are All Asleep."  The teacher sings (using a crescendo), then the students respond (with a decrescendo).  Then, I told them a story called "Thump, Thump, Thump." The students helped create the story, then they sang the song.  We also added a percussion accompaniment on hand drum, triangle, and egg shakers.

The second grade students reviewed a favorite song from last year, "Ghost of John."  We sang it in unison, and then again as a round.  We also read them a story about Bony Legs, which has a fun song to go along with it!  When the story was over, we played an accompaniment on the Orff instruments (xylophone, metallophone, and glockenspiel).  For their second music class, the students sang "A Funny Little Lady," then played a great musical guessing game to go along with the song!

(video of "Alligator Pie" from last week)

The third graders also had a great time using the Orff instruments this week.  They first sang the minor scale (based on "la"), then learned "9 Lives."  Of course, the song is about a cat so we had pictures of black cats all over our music!  They played an ostinato pattern on the instruments to accompany the tune.   In the second half of the week, they learned another song in minor about a broomstick.  There is a great stick passing game that we only just started, so we'll be continuing the activity next week!.

(9 Lives)

The fourth graders continued to rehearse their Veteran's Day song, and some students auditioned for the solo parts.  They also learned a song called "Black and Gold" and played an accompaniment on the Orff instruments.  Next week, they will learn the partner song called "Trick or Treat."

The fifth grade students played a rhythm relay warm-up game, then reviewed the minor scale by singing it in unison and then a round. Next, they read the score for a song called "Halloween Night."  There are three different verses to the song, each with fun and spooky lyrics!  They added the simple Orff accompaniment this week, and next week they will learn the more advanced part.

(Halloween Night)

In chorus, the students ran through "Jingle, Jingle Jazz," then started a new concert song called "Happy Holidays/Auld Lang Syne."  The students also finished learning their grade level pieces.  Pretty soon we will get to add solos, dance parts, and instruments!

We hope you have a delightful weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

4th Grade- Veteran's Day Assembly and Song

Our 4th graders will be singing in the Veteran's Day Assembly on Monday, Nov. 9th at 1:10pm in the Cafeteria. 

Here are the lyrics to the song, "Thank a Vet." Start memorizing the lyrics and we will be auditioning for the two solo parts very soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Weekly Review 10/12-1/16

Here is what we did during our four day week in music:

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 red handkerchief (the apple) onto the head of one of the students. They also did the all-time favorite "Looking for Dracula" activity, as well as "Ghost of John."They learned about a musical beat, and how it differs from a rhythm. 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! Here are two first grade students posing in front of the "Ghost of John." Students created this ghost with their voices!

Our second grade friends continued to learn more about our composer Beethoven by listening to "Fur Elise 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!
Here is two of Mrs. Farrand's class demonstrating the mirror dance:

We also listened to part of a story called, "Bony Legs."

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 by Mrs. Gerry and Mrs. Kip's class:

The fourth graders are preparing for their Veteran's Day song. We will be auditioning for solo parts soon so stay tuned!

Our fifth graders starting learning the song, "Halloween Night." Next week, they will be playing Orff instruments to accompany the song.

In chorus, all grade levels sang through Jingle Jazz! Our fifth graders learned their third song for the concert called, "Happy Holidays/Auld Lang Syne." It is such a beautiful song! All lyrics and some recordings are now on the blog so please feel free to look at them: 2015 Winter Concert- Jingle Jazz

We hope you have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the beautiful fall weather!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Weekly Review 10/5 - 10/9

This week, the first graders reviewed the Loose Tooth chant, then switched their body percussion movement to hand percussion accompaniment!
  • "Loose Tooth" clapping = hand drum
  • "Wiggly Jiggly" patting = guiro
  • "Thread," Bed," "Head" snapping = triangle

They also learned a new solfege syllable: "la."  This was perfect for our new song "Apple Tree," which uses so, mi, and la solfege.  Once they learned the song, we played the Apple Tree game!  As a movement activity, the first graders did mirror movement with a partner to Beethoven's Für Elise.

The second grade students sang a song called "Alligator Pie."  The lyrics are so funny, and the students loved singing in a minor tonality.  They also helped us come up with new lyrics for the third verse.  To help reinforce our composer of the month, the students listened to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.  They closed their eyes and imagined a story.  Then, they wrote down a sentence about what the piece made them think of, and drew a picture of it.  They did a great job with this activity!

In third grade, the students sang a song from Uganda called Dipidu.  There is an A section and a B section, each with a different meter!  The A section is in 3, and the B section is in 2.  To help feel this change, we added movement.   Then, we played an elimination game along with the song - it was awesome!  The third graders also completed Venn Diagram to compare and contrast two pieces by Beethoven:  Sonata in G and Moonlight Sonata.  

I wrote a post about it yesterday, so you can read more about the activity and check out the photos HERE!

The fourth graders finished the folk dance they started last week - they did a fantastic job!  Then, they started a new song "Thank a Vet." This will be their featured song during Memorial School's Veteran's Day celebration.  

The fifth graders finished their Boston Tea Party dance.  The "under - over" section was tricky, but they all got the hang of it!  Then, they watched the Beethoven biography movie.

In chorus this week, all students finished "Jingle, Jingle Jazz."   It feels good to have one song completed for our December concert!  Then, everyone worked on their grade level featured song.  Fifth grade sang "Cool Yule," and fourth grade rehearsed "Once Upon a Wintertime."

It was a great week, and we hope you have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Beethoven Venn Diagrams!

This week, the third grade students filled in a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast two different pieces by Beethoven:  Sonata in G and Moonlight Sonata.

We asked them to focus on the mood, tempo, dynamics, rhythm, pitch, tonality, instrumentation, and anything else that they could think of.  Of course, some students may interpret the two pieces differently, and that's okay!  However, some qualities (such as instrumentation and tonality), are concrete and not open for interpretation.

Once they completed the listening activity on their own, we collaborated and made a big diagram on the board.  Here is the diagram for Mrs. Kip and Mrs. Gerry's classes:

Monday, October 5, 2015

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A:  I am so proud of all of you!  Today we reviewed the strings and how to properly hold the bow, and then we learned the D scale.  Next, we skipped quite a few pages in the book (you are awesome!) and played Song for Christine.  Next week we will get two songs for our Winter Concert!


  • D Major Scale
  • Song for Christine
  • Natalie's Rose
  • Dreidel (optional)
4 B/C:  Today we reviewed the first two lines of Concerto for Triangle.  Try to get back into the practicing habit!  Even if that means only practicing for 5 or 10 minutes until you work your way back up.  We also listened to Jazzy Old Saint Nicholas.

  • D Major Scale
  • Concerto for Triangle - up to measure 25
  • Start Jazzy Old Saint Nick
Fifth Graders
5A/B:  Today we played through all of Concerto for Triangle, and worked on the dynamics and articulations.  Then, we started to look at Jazzy Old Saint Nick

  • D Major Scale - challenging rhythms!
  • Concerto for Triangle
  • Jazzy Old Saint Nick
Next week is Columbus Day, and there will be no school.  Enjoy the long weekend! :)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Weekly Review 9/28-10/2

This week in music, every student learned about Ludvig Van Beethoven. Beethoven was born in Germany and was one of the first composers to make a living without being employed by the church.  When he was 26 years old, Beethoven started going deaf. Even though he could no longer hear well enough to play the piano, Beethoven composed some of his best music after he was deaf! He is most well known for his nine symphonies, and his piano music. Grades 1-3 watched this movie about Beethoven's life

In first grade, we practiced our "sol" and "mi" using hands signs and tossing a ball. We also had fun learning a fun chant called, "Loose Tooth." Mrs. Rzasa and I realized that so many of our first grade friends are beginning to loose their baby teeth, so we wanted to teach them this little chant. This chant had body percussion parts for the following words: loose tooth- two claps, wiggly jiggly- alternating pats on your knees, and bed, head, and thread- snaps. Next week we will transfer these body percussion movements to three different instruments so stay tuned!

The second graders continued working on the challenging song called, "Come and Follow Me."  Each phrase is sung a little bit higher than the last, with one phrase ("singing together, as one!") completing the phrases. After we finished learning the song, we sang it in a round.

In third grade, the students continued to practice the clapping routine for the song,  "Four White Horses." During the interlude of the song, students got into a conga line. Here is a video of a group of students from Mrs. Keating's class performing the clapping routine:

Here is a video of Mrs. Keating and Mrs. Kipp's class singing, "Four White Horses"

In fourth grade, students finished the cup game routine. They performed the routine with many variations such as performing with their eyes closed, performing without saying the words, and collecting the cups unique way. Here is Mrs. Gonzalez's class proudly displaying their pyramid after working hard on their routine.

Our fifth grade students performed a cup routine to the song, "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Here is Mrs. Burn's class:

Fifth graders also learned a folk song dance. We will continue learning this dance next week. Here is what we have learned so far:

In chorus, both the fourth and fifth grade students continued to learn, "Jingle Jazz." Fifth grade students will be singing the melody part and the fourth grade students will be singing the harmony part of this song. The fourth graders also continued to learn their feature song, "Once Upon a Wintertime" which is a sweet song that has a waltz feel.  Fifth graders continued working on their featured song of, "Cool Yule."

Have a wonderful weekend and we hope you stay warm!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beethoven Movie

All grade levels have been studying our new composer of the month, Ludwig van Beethoven.  Today we watched a short movie biography of Beethoven, and the students loved it so much they wanted to see it again!

Here it is…enjoy! :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

String Update & Assignment

Fourth Graders:
4A:  Today we learned rest position and playing position, as well as how NOT to hold our violin/viola!  Watch out for that wrist and elbow :)  We also played the open strings and discussed the differences and similarities between the violin and viola.


  • Purchase Essential Elements for Strings Book 1 (for your instrument) if you haven't already.
  • Go through the first few pages in the book on your own.   Since some of you switched instruments from violin and some are playing an instrument for the first time, it might be more or less difficult for you.  We'll check in next week and see how you did!

4B and 4C:  Today we played our D scale, then reviewed what we did last week on the "Concerto for Triangle."  Then, we added a few more measures and learned how to play piano (quietly) with beautiful tone! 

  • D Scale and Variations
  • Concerto for Triangle - up to measure 25

Fifth Graders:
5A and 5B:  Today we played through the Concerto for Triangle, and learned some new articulations including the accent.  Next, we listened to a new piece we will be working on called "Jazzy Old Saint Nick." The piano part sounds so cool with our pizzicato and arco music!


  • D Scale and Variations
  • Concerto for Triangle - all
  • start Jazzy Old Saint Nick

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly Review 9/21 - 9/25

This week in music, the first graders learned their first two solfege tones:  so and mi.  We tossed around a ball to help us practice - when the ball was in the air everyone sang "so," and once it was caught everyone sang "mi."  They also finished their "Lucy Locket" game from last week.  Then, we took a pretend field trip to a musical kitchen, and all of the students became chefs to create an amazing soup!  Ingredients were added by each child, and in between we performed the "Chop, Chop, Chippety Chop" chant.   

The second graders finished writing new lyrics for "I'm a Nut."  You can see videos of their performances by clicking HERE.  

(second graders composing lyrics)

Once all students had the opportunity to perform, we started a new song called "Come and Follow Me." It has a tricky hand routine that we will continue to learn next week!

The third grade students learned a new musical style called calypso.  We then sang "Four White Horses," a traditional Caribbean folk tune with awesome steel drum accompaniment!  Once the song was mastered, we added a fun clapping routine.  Quartets of students clap the hands of the person across from them (either high or low) then clap the hands of their neighbors to the sides.  The routine repeats with regular hand claps in between each move, and alternating between high and low.   It is a little tough to get the hang of it, so we will continue this activity next week!

The fourth graders completed their cup game this week.  It was so much fun to change the tempo, and then try with our eyes closed!  It was also their first official chorus rehearsal.  We practiced our singing posture, and then did a breathing activity with the help of our two expanding balls, Bill and Ted.  When the ball expands, we fill our lungs with air, and then release on a "tsss" sound as the ball contracts (just like our lungs!).  It's important to control our air, which will help when we sing long phrases and high notes in our music!

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They also sang some fun warm-ups, then started two of the pieces for our winter concert:  "Jingle, Jingle Jazz" and their fourth grade featured piece, "Once Upon a Wintertime."  

The fifth grade students completed their challenging cup activity, which goes with Edward Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King."  We used a traditional recording of the piece, as well as a dubstep version!  Of course, when it was time to clean up they wanted to create a cup pyramid!

Many of the students were at Camp Bourndale on Thursday and Friday, but we had an amazing group of 8 students from "Camp Eagle Fox" who helped us teach Mrs. York some of the fun games we play in music class!

We hope you have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Second Grade Lyrics!

The second grade students have learned a little song called, "I'm a Nut."  It includes singing and an instrumental part on the rhythm sticks.  Once they knew the song, the students split up into pairs and re-wrote the lyrics!

Each group sang their new lyrics as a duet, then the rest of the class joined in for the second half of the song.  Check it out!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

String Update & Assignment

Wow, yesterday we had an amazing day of string lessons!  Please remind your child to come to school on Mondays with their instrument and music - we had quite a few who forgot - thank you!

Fourth Graders:
4A:  We started by reviewing the parts of the violin, viola, and cello.  Then, we discussed some of our concert pieces, including one very funny joke piece!

4B and 4C:  We discussed our concert songs, then played a D Major scale.  It was a great warm-up and got our fingers moving!  We also started to play a new song called "Concerto for Triangle."


  • D Scale
  • Concerto for Triangle
  • Try to get back into your practicing routine from last year! :)

Fifth Graders:
5A and 5B:  After discussing our music for the Winter Concert, we played the D Major Scale with varied rhythms as a warm-up.  Then, we started to work on "Concerto for Triangle."   Although it was only the first day for this piece, the students were amazing sight readers!  Check out how they sounded after only a few minutes:


  • D Major Scale with tricky rhythmic patterns
  • See how far you can get through "Concerto for Triangle!"   We will try to run through the whole piece next week.
  • Start to brainstorm a fun and challenging piece we can play as a 5th grade feature at the concert.

Ickle Ockle

Just wanted to share a video from last week of some of our second graders playing Ickle Ockle:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Weekly Review 9/14-9/18

Wow! We completed our first full week of school and had so much fun in music. Here is what we learned in each grade:

This week, the first graders finished the "Chicka- Chicka- Boom Boom" name game chant and reviewed the song, "Welcome Back."  Mrs. Rzasa and I are still trying to learn every first graders name so please be patient with us! The song was a lot of fun because we sang and performed the actions in different tempos (the speed of the song)  and used different dynamics (volume- forte and piano).  We also learned a song and game called, "Lucy Locket." One person is Lucy (he/she hides the pocket book in the room) and another person Kitty Fisher (finds the pocket). The rest of the students play an important role in this song/game because they help Kitty Fisher find the pocket by how loud or quiet they sing the song. We will continue this game next week!

Second grade students finished playing "Grizzly Bear" and learned the song "Ickle Ockle." What does "Ickle Ockle" mean? NOTHING! After learning the song we played the game. One person was the "Ickle Ockle" and had to give another friend a "high five" after the song ended. The other students have to find another friend to give a "high five" too. The last student without a partner becomes the new "Ickle Ockle." We also learned a fun new song called, "I'm a Nut!" We then got into groups and composed our new lyrics. Stay tuned for our performances next week!

The third graders finished the "Thread Follows the Needle" song and activity that they started last week.  The class was lined up in two rows, and each row had a child designated as the needle, a child as the knot, and the rest all held hands to make up the thread!  The needle led the thread in and out (and under the arms of their classmates) to create cross stitches as they sang!  It was so much fun!   In addition, we started to learn an awesome calypso song called "Four White Horses." It is a 3rd grade favorite! Next week we will learn the hand routine.

Fourth played a fun cup game. We learned the steps very slowly, but will be picking up the tempo next week.  In addition, they had their first "official" chorus rehearsal!

Fifth graders learned a new cup game routine that went along with Grieg's famous composition, "In the Hall of the Mountain King." It was so much fun that we will continue to practice this routine next week.

In chorus, we continued to sing our fun warm-up, "One Bottle of Pop," and download all of our concert songs.

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

4th/5th Grade Orchestra Registration!

Sign up for String Orchestra!
Did you participate in the 3rd Grade Violin Program?
Continue on Violin or choose from these new instruments…
Viola  ~  Cello
CLICK HERE  to register for 4th Grade Orchestra.


Even if you didn’t participate in 3rd Grade Violin,  It’s not too late to join the 4th/5th String Orchestra!
About the program:  Weekly 25-min lessons as well as 25 min Orchestra rehearsal will be held during the school day. Schedule will be on a rotating basis as to avoid missed classes. Students are expected to practice at home.  

Don’t forget to order the method book:  Essential Elements Book 1 (if you don’t already have one) for your specific instrument along with your instrument rental.  Instruments will be delivered to your child’s school for the first lesson.  Lessons will start on Monday, September 14th 2015.

For more information contact:
Mrs. Rzasa:


Friday, September 11, 2015

Weekly Review 9/8 - 9/11

We had such a fantastic week in music!

The first graders practiced their musical listening skills by playing a fun game of freeze dance.   It's important to react to the music immediately when it stops, and the same for when it starts up again!  They also learned a new song "Welcome Back to School." This song includes clapping and stomping in addition to using an appropriate singing voice.  Once the song was mastered, we played a game by varying the speed (tempo) and volume (dynamics) of the song.  We're looking forward to continuing this activity next week!

The second grade students learned a new song called "Grizzly Bear."  We practiced singing with different dynamics:  the song starts at mezzo forte, switches to piano, and then the surprise at the end comes when we sing the last word forte!  The students then played a fun guessing game while singing the song.  They also started a silly nonsense song called "Ickle Ockle," which we will finish next week.

The third grade students got to work on their instrument skills this week.  They practiced rest position:

and ready/playing position:

Next, they used the rhythm sticks to play a passing game to accompany the song.  Check out their video below!

For their second music lesson of the week, the students learned a folk dance called "Tideo."

This week, the fourth graders played a stick passing game to go along with their song from last week, "Rocky Mountain."  It was a little tricky at first, but then they got the hang of it!  They also played a hand drum accompaniment with the song, as seen below:

The fifth graders also played the drums and a stick passing game.  However, their song was "Sansa Kroma."  Sansa Kroma is a folk song from Ghana.  We discussed a little bit about the culture and music styles in Africa, then enjoyed the game!

The 4th and 5th graders started chorus this week!  First, we got into height order to help everyone find their assigned spots on the risers.  Then, all students learned a fun warm-up called "One Bottle of Pop."  We reviewed the concept of partner songs, then split up the class into 3 groups - one for each song.  When sung together, the three parts create beautiful harmony!  It was a great opportunity for the students to practice listening to one another without losing their own extremely valuable skill for chorus!

We hope you have a relaxing weekend!