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

Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekly Review 1/26 - 1/30

Due to the snow days, we didn't as full of a week as usual- but that didn't stop us from having a great time in music class!

Some of the first graders made a Peter and the Wolf book to take home.  Each instrument from the story had its own page, and the students colored it in- while listening to a recording of the music, of course. :)  Next, they had the opportunity to draw the corresponding character on the opposite page, to make connections between the instrument and the animal/person.  For the second music class, we started watching a Peter and the Wolf movie!

The second grade students have been learning about the four main instrument families, and this week they started to learn about the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.  The piece was composed by Benjamin Britten, a famous English composer, in 1946.   It was written to help teach children about the instruments of the orchestra.  The second graders played an interactive Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra game in class- it is a listening activity that takes you on a safari adventure as you visit the four instrument families and unlock each of their games.

The third graders went on their field trip yesterday to see the Lexington Symphony perform.  You can find a blog post (with pictures) by clicking HERE.  We wrote thank you letters to the symphony to show our appreciation for their musical skill!  Next week, the students will be taking a practice test to prepare for our notation test.

The fourth graders continued working on their new chorus songs!  We first listened to a recording of "It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Sing Sing Sing" to reinforce the tricky rhythms, then tried singing it.  The students did such a wonderful job with the syncopated, swinging rhythms!  We also reviewed "Land That I Love" and started "Sourwood Mountain."

The fifth grade students continued their rhythmic compositions.  Some students were ready to move to percussion instruments.  Next week, all students will be practicing their compositions on instruments, then will perform them for the class the following week!

We hope you have a wonderful weekend :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lexington Symphony!

Wow!  The third graders had an amazing time this morning on their field trip!  We visited the Burlington High School to see the Lexington Symphony perform!

Just chillin' before the show!

The student saw a few familiar faces in the orchestra - from when the symphony's quartet visited Memorial.

The students were taken on a musical journey through time, starting in the year 1000.  Music was primarily vocal (sung by voice) until the Renaissance, when recorders and drums were popular.  Little by little, instruments were added...

 ...such as violin, viola, cello and bass (very common in the Baroque period).

In the late Baroque and Classical periods, concertos were performed!  The students heard a gorgeous concerto movement by a young violinist.  In addition, more wind, brass, and percussion instruments were added to the ensemble!

Pretty soon, everyone was on stage, and the students were introduced to some lesser-known (but still important!) instruments such as as the contrabassoon, bass clarinet, and English horn.

By the end of the concert, there was a full modern symphony orchestra on stage!  As a finale, they played a medley of Star Wars, composed by John Williams.  This was certainly a favorite!

Big thanks to the parents who volunteered to chaperone- we hope you had fun too!

If your child is in third grade (or if you know a third grader), ask them about their favorite part of the concert!

Monday, January 26, 2015

String Update/Assignment

Good afternoon!  It looks like we may have a snow day tomorrow- what a great opportunity to squeeze in some extra practice time! :)  I hope you stay safe and warm inside.

Third Graders
Today we continued to work on our bowing.  We played through the examples on pages 16 and 17 in the book.

  • D Scale, ascending (up) and descending (down)
  • Page 18 with the bow! :)

Fourth Graders
4A:  Today we played through the songs on page 22.  Then, the violins and violas learned how to finger A with the 4th finger (on the D string).   We also played ALL of Hickory Dickory Dock, and played on the G string.

  • Work on bow technique and posture!  Some of you were a little droopy today :)
  • Page 23
  • Hickory Dickory
4B:  Today we reviewed that pesky C's tough to squeeze the second finger so close to the first!  We also worked on the William Tell Overture. 

  • Pages 33 and 34 in the book
  • Hickory Dickory
  • William Tell Overture (#190)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Weekly Review 1/20-1/23

In first grade, students continued to learn about Sergei Prokofiev's fairytale, "Peter and the Wolf" by finishing a listening map activity.   Each part of the map included a fun activity, such as drawing the different characters and identifying different instruments. Next week we will be making our very own, "Peter and the Wolf" book! Here is list of all the character in the fairytale. Each character in the story represents an instrument and has a musical theme:

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 will be reviewing the four instrument families through an interactive game! We also revisited a fun song from first grade called, "A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea..." Here is Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Farrand's class singing and performing one of the movements from the song:

The third grade students had an exciting visit from four members of the Lexington Symphony Orchestra to prepare for next week's field trip! Here are some pictures and videos from this special time:
Lexington Symphony
Don't forget that our field trip to the Burlington High School to see the Lexington Symphony performance will be next THURSDAY, JAN. 29th!

Our fourth and fifth graders are beginning their composition unit!  We reviewed all the different note values from our recorder unit in third grade- quarter note, quarter rest, half note, and an eighth note pair.  For our fifth graders, we added a half rest. With their partners, our fourth grade students had to compose an "ABA" form. Our fifth graders had chose their partners and composed a "ABACABA" also known as Rondo form. Next week we will finish our compositions and add percussion instruments.

In chorus, both grade levels began learning a sweet patriotic partner song called, "Land that We Love." It contains a famous song that almost everyone knew by memory called, "America the Beautiful." We also learned a fun swing and jazz arrangement called, "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." It is a 1931 composition by Duke Ellington with lyrics written by Irving Mills.  The students had a great time learning about the origin of jazz and getting into this song by snapping their fingers as they sang!

We hope you have a wonderful weekend! Please stay warm as it snows on Saturday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Visit from the Lexington Symphony

To prepare for their upcoming field trip (Thursday, January 29th), the third grade students had an exciting visit from four members of the Lexington Symphony Orchestra.

Students got up close and personal with the violin, viola, clarinet, and tuba.  (or as we pronounced it, the "TUUUUUUBAAA!").  The performers played beautiful music and taught us about their instruments.   We discussed the four instrument families (string, brass, woodwind, and percussion), and learned a little bit about concert etiquette.

Below are some pictures and video of our fun morning!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Weekly Review 1/12 - 1/16

Happy Friday!

This week, the first grade students finished their fun game from last week- "Doggie, Doggie!"  Some students disguised their voices to make it trickier for the dog to guess who stole the bone.  We also started our new unit based on Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf."  "Peter and the Wolf" is a story and musical piece by the Russian composer.  We read the book first, then started a listening map in the second class.  As the students listened to the story and orchestral music (narrated by Patrick Stewart), they completed the activities in each box.  We will be finishing this activity next week!

The second graders also started a new unit on instrument families.  The four main instrument families are: brass, woodwind, string, and percussion. This week the students learned about the percussion and brass families.  To get their bodies moving (especially since we have been having indoor recess all week!), the students danced to the fiddle tune, "Soldier's Joy."  Check it out:

The third graders are preparing for our visit from members of the Lexington Symphony.  We reviewed all of the instruments of the orchestra, as well as the families they belong to.

**Reminder to all 3rd Grade Parents- our field trip to see the orchestra perform will be Thursday, January 29th**

In preparation for our recorder unit, the students have been playing fun games to review music notation.  It's been a lot of fun!

The fourth and fifth graders completed their unit on building and playing chords.  They also used the tone chimes to play a chordal accompaniment to Auld Lang Syne.  You can watch videos of them playing in class by clicking here and here.

In chorus, the students started learning the songs for their Spring Concert.  The theme is "America the Beautiful."  We have an exciting program planned, and we are certain you will love it!   The Spring Concert will be held on Wednesday, May 13th.  Please mark your calendars!

We hope you have a fantastic weekend! :)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

4th and 5th Grade Spring Concert

As a reminder, our 2015 Spring concert will be held on

Wednesday, May 13th, 2014

Concert information can always be found on the Concert Information page, located in our blog's sidebar.

That page will be updated as we get closer to the concert with more detailed information!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Violin Update/Assignment

Third Graders:
We made connections between the music  notation we have been learning in general music, and the notes we know for violin.   They are the same pitches, since we are reading in treble clef in our classroom AND lessons!   We played through "Mozart Melody," which is the same as "Twinkle, Twinkle."  This will be one of our concert songs at the end of the year :)


  • Practice scales!  I can tell which students have been working on scales and which have not- scales are essential to help improve tone, pitch memory, and more!
  • Review page 15, and continue on to page 16.  Page 16 will be a great review of playing open strings with the bow.
Fourth Graders:
4A:  We reviewed all of the notes on the staff and the pitches in the D scale, then tried sight reading!  We read through the B part of "Hickory Dickory Dock."  This will be one of our concert songs.  It was especially fun to play because of a new technique:  left hand pizzicato.

  • D Scale
  • Pg. 22
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
4B:  We also started some songs for our Spring concert!  We played through the A part of "Hickory Dickory Dock," "William Tell Overture," and then started "Submarine."  In addition, we reviewed the songs from last week in our book.  

  • D Scale
  • Pg. 34
  • Pg. 44 #190 (William Tell)
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
**Please note:  Next week is Martin Luther King Day.  Lessons will resume the following Monday!**

Below are some extra videos from last week's Performance Day:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Auld Lang Syne Performance with Tone Chimes

Here are some performances from our 5th and 4th grade students singing, "Auld Lang Syne" accompanied by tone chimes.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekly Review 1/5 - 1/9

Happy New Year! Mrs. Rzasa and I hope you all had a fun and relaxing winter break. We can't believe it's 2015 already! It was so refreshing to see the students again and hear what fun things they did over the holidays.

The first graders sang a silly movement chant called, "Hands, Hands." We warmed up our cold bodies with moving just one body part at a time. I think we could all agree that one of our most favorite was singing and moving our tongue. We also sang a winter song called "I Have a Little Snowman."  It explores movement and pitch in a scale.  As the song continues, the pitch of the song rises, and when the snowman melts the pitch returns back to the starting note (do).  To review the pitches of "Sol-La-Mi" we learned a fun song and game called, "Doggie, Doggie Where's Your Bone." One student played the part of the dog who was sleeping in the middle of the room while another student distributes the bone to one person in the room as the class sang the song. Whoever has the bone on the phrase, "Who stole the bone?" got to sing the solo part of "I stole the bone!" It was so fun to see students guessing who had stole the bone.

Second grade students learned a new musical term called, "tempo." Tempo is the speed of the music. We practiced listening and moving to various tempos with a song called, "Freight Train." Students also had a chance to conduct the tempo of the chant, "Engine, Engine Number 9" while the rest of the class sang or moved as trains to the tempo that was conducted. Here is a student conducting the class and the trains:

Our third grade students reviewed the notes of the staff by singing, "I Don't Know the Names" and playing the game, "On Your Mark, Get Set, Notate!"  We were so happy to see how much the students remembered over the break! If you have not already brought in your permission slips for the recorder and for the Lexington Symphony field trip, please do so ASAP! They were due on Friday but we are accepting it on Monday! Our field trip is on Thursday, Jan 29th and we would love to hand out all the recorders after that. You are more than welcome to use your older sibling's Yamaha recorder! Just let us know!

The students in fourth and fifth graders learned a song for the New Year called , "Auld Lang Syne." The song is traditionally sung on New Year's Day, at midnight right after the ball drops.  The song reminds us to remember our old friends and fond memories as we approach the new year.  The song sounded great as we sang it, but it will sound even better with chordal accompaniment.  Thus we also worked on building chords.  A chord (unlike a pitch or interval) is a group of three or more pitches played at the same time.  There are MANY different chords in the music world, but we focused on chords with three or four notes.  We explored the different tonalities that the chords can possess, and a process for building a chord that will sound good every time! We practiced playing tone chimes this week and next week we will use them to accompany the song, "Auld Lang Syne" 

Here are what tone chimes are:

Here are some 5th grade students playing the tone chimes:

We hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, January 5, 2015

String Update/Assignment - (Performance Day!)

Today was PERFORMANCE DAY!!  This is an opportunity for each student to play a piece that represents their best.  Below are some of the benefits of Performance Day:

  • Students play for, and inspire, their peers
  • Students gain independence playing alone
  • The more frequently they perform, the less nerves there will be come concert time
  • I can more accurately assess each student, and help them one-on-one
  • Each student becomes a teaching tool for the others in class, and students may offer suggestions to help their peers. 
  • It's fun!

Before we get to the videos, here are the assignments for the week:

Third Graders

  • Page 15 (pizzicato first, then with the bow)
  • Practice the D scale with the bow using different fun rhythms!

Fourth Graders
  • Page 20
  • Brainstorm ideas for a fun Spring concert song!
  • Pages 32 and 33
  • If you were still having trouble on page 31, please review it- those G string notes are a bit tricky! 
  • Brainstorm ideas for a fun Spring concert song!

(note:  not all students choose to be videotaped)