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

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekly Review 1/25 - 1/29

This week, the first graders finished their Peter and the Wolf listening map.  They really enjoyed listening to the story, narrated by Patrick Stewart, as well as the beautiful music written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.  We started to watch the Peter and the Wolf movie as well, which we will finish next week!  As an extension to the song "A Sailor Went to Sea," the students added a fun clapping game.  It was a great week!

This week, second graders put all that they learned about the 4 instrument families to the test! They played an interactive game on the Touch It Board called "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." It is based on Benjamin Britten's musical composition, "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." It is a listening game that takes you on a safari adventure as you visit the 4 instrument families and unlock each of their games.  We will continue this awesome activity next week!

The third graders took their notation test this week.   We are so proud of the students for all of their hard work - they did a wonderful job!  Next week, they will be receiving their recorders so we can start this new and exciting unit!  If your child is using a recorder from home, please have them bring it to music class next week.  Thank you!

The fourth and fifth graders started a composing unit this week.  We reviewed the quarter note, eighth note pair, sixteenth notes, half note, quarter rest, and half rest.  Then, we played a fun flash card game to review how to read and count the rhythms.  

The fourth graders learned about ABA form - which can be heard in the popular tune "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."  The first section is the same as the last part, with something different (the B section) in the middle.  They will be using rhythmic notation to compose their song in ABA form.  

The fifth graders, however, learned a different musical form:  rondo.  Their rhythmic compositions will follow ABACABA form.  The A section is similar to a refrain, because it returns many times throughout the piece.   

In chorus this week, the students continued to work on the Painless Opera.  We even got up to the silly solo section! :)  The fifth grade students learned a bit more of the Ode to Beethoven, and the fourth graders have been working on mastering their featured song, the Surprise Symphony.  This concert is sure to be a hoot!

We hope that you have a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekly Review 1/18-1/22

Our first grade students will be studying Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" for the next few weeks.  "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.  Each part of the map included a fun activity, such as drawing the different characters and identifying different instruments. We will be finishing this activity next week. Here is a list of all the character in the fairytale. Each character in the story represents an instrument and has a musical theme:

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 brass and woodwind families.  To get their bodies moving (especially since we have been having indoor recess all week!), the students performed a movement activity to Haydn's "Surprise Symphony."

Common Brass Family Instruments:
French Horn

Common Woodwind Family Instruments:

The third graders went on their field trip on Friday to see the Lexington Symphony perform at Cary Hall.  The performance took the audience on a tour of the orchestra beginning 500 years ago when only voice, recorders and drums were popular. Instruments were slowly added back to the orchestra to show how music had evolved over time. 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! Here are some pictures from the performance:

Next week, the students will be taking a notation test! Don't forget to study! As always, please ask Mrs. Rzasa or I for any help!

In chorus, we continued to work on our spring concert song, "The Painless Opera."  The fifth graders started Ode to Beethoven, which includes tunes from his 9th Symphony and Moonlight Sonata.  The fourth graders began their featured song, "The Surprise Symphony" by Haydn. Many of Haydn's music contained jokes to make sure the audience was paying attention. "The Surprise Symphony", or Symphony No. 94 in G Major is most famous for a sudden fortissimo (very loud) chord at the end of the opening theme. The music then returns to the original piano (quiet) dynamic as if nothing had happened.  

We hope you all stay safe and warm during the blizzard! Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Review 1/11 - 1/15

Happy Friday!

This week the first graders reviewed the important musical concept of beat.  We played beat leaders,  then walked to steady beats in different tempos.  The students also sang the fun Snowman song that they learned last week.   The movement is so silly - especially when our snowmen melt!  We then reviewed our Doggie Doggie song by counting the rhythm then adding solfege on sol, mi, and la. The students enjoyed playing the game with different doggies, bone hiders, and soloists for each round.

The second grade students have started their instrument family unit. For their first music class, we learned about the string family.  This is my (Mrs. Rzasa's) favorite instrument family!   We read a book which introduced the family, then discussed the violin, viola, cello, bass, harp, and guitar.  These are not the only string instruments, but they are the most common here in America and in Europe.   We also learned about the percussion family - so much fun!  For movement this week, the second graders danced to Soldier's Joy, which is a popular fiddle and banjo tune.

The third graders had a VERY exciting week!  Four members from the Lexington Symphony Orchestra visited Memorial to help prepare the students for next Friday's field trip.  Please check out our post HERE to see some photos and videos from this exciting visit!  To help review the process of reading/writing notes, we played two really fun games on the staff!  The students enjoyed the beanbag toss game, and "On Your Mark, Get Set, Notate!"  Our practice test is next week  :)

The fourth and fifth grade students have been doing an awesome job with the tone chimes.  We first reviewed the process for building a chord, and then drew chords on the staff.   They looked like little snowmen!  Then, the fifth graders played a chord accompaniment on the tone chimes to "Take On Me" by the band A-Ha.  The fourth graders played a chord accompaniment along with the song "Auld Lang Syne."

In chorus, we started working on songs for our spring concert.  We had a great time learning about opera and listening to different excerpts from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini's Barber of Seville, and Bizet's Carmen.   The tunes are so much fun to sing with our silly words!  The fifth graders started Ode to Beethoven, which includes tunes from his 9th Symphony and Moonlight Sonata.  The fourth graders began their featured song, which is Haydn's Surprise Symphony.

A Visit from the Lexington Symphony

To prepare for their upcoming field trip (Friday, January 22nd), 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 from our fun morning!

Monday, January 11, 2016

String Update/Assignment - Performance Day!

Hello!  Today was performance day for the students.

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!

Performance Day was a little different this time, since all of the students were sight reading.   This was part of our benchmark assessments for the year.  I gave all of the 4th and 5th graders an excerpt from Dragon Slayer (one of our new concert songs), and they had a few minutes to silently look at it.  Then, they were asked to play, without hearing it or working on it first.

Once all students completed their benchmark assessments, some of them wanted to perform another tune that they had worked on.  Here are the videos:

All students will start to work on Dragon Slayer this week, and continue to do tunes from their book.  Remember - there is no school next Monday for Martin Luther King Day.

Have a happy Monday!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Weekly Review 1/4- 1/8

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a fun and relaxing winter break!

Here is what we did for our first week in music in 2016:

Our 1st grade students listened to the "March" from the Nutcracker ballet. We discovered that there are three main themes to this suite and danced to it. The themes were soldiers, puppets, and mice because of how they sound. We had so much fun dancing like and to these themes. 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 parts to move and sing to was 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." Next week we will play the game that goes with this song.

Second grade students learned a new musical term called, "tempo." Tempo is the speed of the music. We practiced listening and moving to various three tempos with a song called, "Freight Train." The tempos in Italian are adagio (slow), andante (walking tempo), and allegro (fast). We also had BRAVO parties so here is a picture of some students playing freezing dance:

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 this week! Our field trip is on Friday, Jan 22nd at Carey Hall in Lexington. 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 fourth and fifth graders are all working 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 songs. 

The fourth graders will play an accompaniment to, "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

The fifth graders will play an accompaniment to, "Take On Me," by a Norwegian band called A-ha. This son was very famous in the 1980's. 

Here are what tone chimes are:

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!