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

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! :)