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

Monday, March 30, 2015

String Update/Assignment

Third Graders:
After we played the D scale in unison and as a round, we focused on "Old MacDonald."  For fun, we played a variation on the second line, and it was so much fun!  I  think we might play it that way in the concert!  We also reviewed "Song for Christine" and "Frere Jacques."


  • D Scale, with varied rhythm
  • Concert songs (see photo below)

Fourth Graders:
4A:  Today we learned the first part of Submarine!  It can be tricky to read those G string notes, but you did a great job!  Remember to check back in the book if you forget the fingerings.  

  • D Scale, with varied rhythm
  • Concert songs (see photo below)

4B:  Today we spent some time finishing up the Submarine song!  You all did an amazing job playing the beginning, so it was fun to play the song in its entirety.  

  • D Scale, with varied rhythm
  • Concert songs (see photo below)

As we approach our concerts (May 13th for 4th grade, June 10th for 3rd grade), we will be having more ensemble rehearsals at recess.   Please check the schedule below:

4th Grade:
April 2
April 9
April 16
April 30
May 7
Concert - May 13

3rd Grade:
April 28
May 12
May 26
(June 2, if needed)
June 9
Concert - June 10

Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekly Review 3/23 - 3/27

This week, the first grade students played the violin!  Below, you can see a photo of them practicing rest position.  Then, they played pizzicato (plucking) on all strings - G, D, A, and E.  It was fun to take turns and help partners too!  The first graders also learned a cute song for a holiday we celebrated last week- St. Patrick's Day.   They passed shamrocks around the circle to the beat while singing, and the friends who had the shamrocks at the end of the song could play an instrument!  Either three beats on the hand drum, or a glissando on the glockenspiel during the next round.

The second graders enjoyed violin this week too! They played various warm-ups on the open strings, and started to prepare for the fingered notes.  They also played along to Twist and Shout following the chord progression of D-G-A.  In the second music class of the week, they either played "Old King Glory" or "Spring Eggs."  We hope that it starts to feel like Spring soon!

The third grade students have learned a new note these week- low E.  This will help the students who are currently learning "Lucy Locket," and prepare the students who are not there yet.  They also were rewarded with an awesome classroom game on the recorders - JoyTunes!

Fourth and fifth graders played "Hot Cross Buns" on the violin, and also played open strings with the bow!  They learned about all of the parts of the bow, how to properly hold it, and how to apply rosin.   Then, they played along to "Twist and Shout."  You can check out a few videos here!

Lovely rest position:

And this is what it looks like to dance and play violin at the same time! :)

In chorus, they finished learning "Party in the U.S.A."  The bridge section was a bit tricky rhythmically, especially with the syncopation.  But everyone certainly got the hang of it!  They also spent some time focusing on their featured grade level songs.  Fourth grade enjoyed "Sourwood Mountain," and fifth grade did "Johnny B. Goode." They were rocking on air guitar and having a blast dancing and clapping along while singing!  Some students even tried singing the solo in "It Don't Mean a Thing."

We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Twist and Shout!

The 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th graders have been working on their violin unit- we've been having a blast!

Using a simple chord progression of D G A, the students performed a rockin' instrumental accompaniment to the popular Beatles tune "Twist and Shout."

4th Grade:

2nd Grade:

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly Review 3/9- 3/13

The first graders were super excited to receive their violins this week. For some students, this will be their first instrument. With an exception of a few students, each student was paired up with another student and was assigned to a violin. We learned how to care for the instrument such as how to properly open the violin case, how to carefully take the violin out with two hands, and how to properly put back the violin into it's case. We also reviewed the violin parts from last week. Incase you forgot what some of the parts were, here is a list of the parts to help you. Ask your first grade student if they can name these parts on the violin.

  • Scroll
  • Pegs
  • Peg Box
  • Strings
  • Nut
  • Fingerboard
  • Neck
  • Body
  • Ribs
  • Bridge
  • Sound Post
  • F Holes
  • Tailpiece
  • Chin Rest
  • Button
  • Parts of the bow: frog, stick, tip, grip, screw, hair

In second grade, students were very excited to play the violin again and many can't wait to put their fingers down on the fingerboard to learn and play more notes! We reviewed the parts of the violin and bow. We were so happy that many students remembered the various parts of the violin! We reviewed two positions- rest position (also known as guitar position) and playing position



Some classes even got the chance to play two open strings- G and D. We will continue to review all the open strings next week.

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 8."
   5.  Composer's Corner- student compose their own music using B,A and G or working on a music
        worksheet called, "Busiest Day of the Week!"
   6.  Book Nook- Students silently read music books

Here are some pictures of our 3rd grade students working hard in their assigned centers:

Our fourth and fifth grade students continued to perform their music compositions this week.  Feel free to scroll down and view your child's performance! They can be found under the name of their home room teacher. We also went over the parts of the violin and the bow. So many students remembered all the parts! Next week will be playing pizzicato on the violins and shortly after, we will be using the bow!

In chorus, we worked on the ending of "Land that We Love" and "It's Don't Mean a Thing." Fourth Grade finished, "Sourwood Mountain!" We can't wait to add the dance moves to this song! The fifth graders finished learning the last verse of, "Johnny B. Goode." Don't forget to practice singing with the recordings that are found on the, "Chorus Lyrics and Recordings" page.

We hope you have a wonderful weekend! Enjoy the warm sun!

Monday, March 9, 2015

String Update/Assignment

Third Graders
Today we continued to work on the concert songs.  Not only did we review "Song for Christine," but we also had time to play through the first line of "Frere Jacques."


  • D Scale, with varied rhythm
  • Concert Sheet

Fourth Graders
4A:  We finally got through the first half of the William Tell Overture- thank you so much for the work you did on it at home!  We started the second half today, and also played through Hickory Dickory Dock.  Next week, we will start the Submarine Song- it's a fun one!

  • Scales
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • William Tell Overture

4B:  Today we played through all of the William Tell Overture- it sounded great!  We also got a lot of work done on the Submarine Song.  

  • Scales
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • William Tell Overture
  • Submarine Song- focus on the eighth note patterns and keeping that C# (high 3rd finger on the G string) in tune.
Here are some videos from today's lessons!

This video was recorded by Saniya- thanks for being such a great videographer! :)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Weekly Review 3/2 - 3/6

This week, the first graders watched an excellent video all about the symphony orchestra!  They learned about what things are like for children who are in the Julliard Pre-College Symphony Orchestra, a highly competitive group for talented young musicians.  They have a lot of fun, but also spend time practicing their instruments in order to get better.  The video also visited adult professional musicians who perform in a group called Stomp.  They make music with unconventional musicians- ask your child what some of those instruments were!  They also learned a new song called "Charlie Over the Ocean," then played a great circle game as they sang!

The second grade students played Instrument Bingo again...but this time on the challenging side of the card!  Although the game was more advanced, the students remembered all of the sounds that the instruments make and were able to complete their bingo boards.  We also demonstrated the acoustic guitar for the class, and learned about how the strings vibrate at different speeds and with different wave patterns to create higher and lower sounds.  Check out this great video below!

All of our third grade students passed their White Belt song, "Hot Cross Buns."  We are so proud of  them!  The new song we are working on is called "Merrily We Roll Along," and it uses the pitches B, A, and G.  Don't forget to practice at home!  We will be starting centers next week, and will continue to belt test.  If you walk past the music room, don't forget to check out the signatures in the hallway on our white belt paper!  Mrs. Niu and I will also be making a schedule for when students can come for extra help if they would like.

The fourth and fifth grade students finished their composition projects, and you can find videos right here on the blog!  Next week they will be starting the violin unit, and hopefully we will be able to play the viola and cello too!

In chorus, the fifth graders continued to learn their featured song, "Johnny B. Goode."  They worked a lot on the second verse and the refrain!  The fourth graders also rehearsed their feature- "Sourwood Mountain."  All chorus students were finally able to start "Party in the USA." Such a fun song!

We hope you have an awesome weekend!

Monday, March 2, 2015

4th Grade ABA Compositions

Our fourth grade students have been working on composing in ABA form.  That means that the music heard in the end of the song is the same as the beginning, with a different theme or melody in the middle.

We hope you enjoy them!

Here is Mrs. Gonzalez's class:

5th Grade Rondo (ABACABA) Form Compositions

Our 5th grade students have been working on a RONDO Form composition (ABACABA) with their partners for the past few weeks. Each section was two measures long and contained four beats. Students used either quarter notes (du), half notes (d^u), eight notes (du-de) or a quarter rest. After students composed their composition on staff papers,  they performed their composition using percussion instruments.

We hope you enjoy their creativity!

Here is Mrs. Burn's class:

String Update/Assignment (Performance Day!)

Today was PERFORMANCE DAY for the 3rd Graders!! (4th Graders are working on their challenging concert music). 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

  • Concert Sheet - please focus on Frere Jacques, especially the second line! :)

Fourth Graders
4A: Today we spent time on the William Tell Overture.  We were all a bit disappointed to hear that there was no improvement since last week.  Your experience in the lesson today hopefully portrays the importance of practicing.  Please get back in the habit of practicing- we need your wonderful music for the concert!!

  • William Tell Overture
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
4B:  Today we played through all of the William Tell Overture- it sounds awesome!  We also had time to run through Hickory Dickory Dock, then review the Submarine Song.
  • William Tell Overture
  • Submarine Song
(note:  not all students choose to be videotaped)