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

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!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome Bach!

Dear Parents/Guardians:

Welcome Bach!  As our school year begins, we would like to welcome you and your family into the music community here at Memorial Elementary School. We are very excited to have you here, and want to take this time to celebrate not only the hard work your child will put into the next year in music class, but also the skills that they will develop through their experiences in their music class and ensembles.The lifelong benefits your child will obtain through music extend beyond the classroom and are transferable to every other academic subject. Below are the dates of our performances:

4th Grade Veteran’s Day Assembly - Monday, November 9, 2015 (time TBD)
4th/5th Grade Winter Concert - Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
Winter Caroling - week of December 21, 2015 (exact dates/times TBD)
4th/5th Grade Spring Concert -  Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.
2nd Grade Memorial Day Assembly - Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.
3rd Grade Recorder and Violin Concert - Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.

If you have any questions, we would be delighted to meet you in person at our Back to School Night on Tuesday, Sept. 15th.  

All performance information, weekly lesson reviews, songs, games, and classroom photos/videos can be found here on our blog, so please check back often!

Again, welcome to our musical family and we look forward to meeting you!

Musically Yours,
Memorial Music Department:
Mrs. Niu
Mrs. Rzasa
Mr. Napierkowski
Ms. Berger