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

Friday, February 26, 2016


We hope you all had a fun and relaxing February break. Here is what we did in music this week:

Our first grade friends learned that our human body is an instrument! The four main body percussion sounds are stomp, patshe (patting one or both thighs with the hand), clap and stomp. We used these body percussion sounds to practice beat and rhythm.  We also learned a fun song and game called, "The Button and the Key." One student comes forward to the room and closes their eyes while the rest of the class sings the song. Another student is in charge of distributing the button and the key before the solo parts. Whoever has the button will sing, " I have the button" and whoever has the key will sing, "I have the key." The student in front of the room has to guess who had those items. It was exciting to see how each student guess and sang their solo parts.

In second grade, students tested their abilities to recognize and reinforce the sounds of instruments by playing, "Instrument Bingo."  Students were given instrument bingo parts and had to listen to the sounds of each instrument and match them to the pictures on their instrument bingo card. The students did a fabulous job of recognizing the sounds that belonged to each instrument.

In third grade, we started six different activity centers for students to rotate to as Mrs. Rzasa and I as we test students for their recorder belts. Here are the following six centers:
   1.  Testing- students can test for their belts or request help on the belt song they are working on.
   2.  Practicing- students practice and help one another.
   3.  Rhythm Stick Games- games that help reinforce rhythms are played.
   4.  Musical Game- games that reinforce note names
   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

We also spent time on a fun interactive game called, "JoyTunes" where students can master the recorder.  Joy Tunes (  This site is a great way for students to practice through recorder games.  To play, you need a computer with a microphone (most laptops have built-in mics).  You can also download the free app if you have an iPad (

Here is one student practicing his recorder with this game:

You will need to make an account so the student's progress will be saved.  Here's how to do it:

Go to, and click "Play for Free"

Next, make a username, password, and type in your email address:

Click "CONNECT" to allow the site to access your microphone:

Now you're ready to play!  Have fun :)

It's composition performance time for our fourth and fifth grade students! Not everyone got a chance to perform so we will continue this next week! Take a look at some of our wonderful performances:

In chorus, we finished learning The Painless Opera, Ode To Beethoven and the Surprise Symphony. Yeah!! Next week, each grade level will learn the last two songs for our Spring Concert!

We hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

ABA Compositions

Good afternoon!  The fourth grade students have been working on compositions in ABA Form.   In ABA form, the beginning and end of the composition are the same, and it the B theme is different.  "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" is an example of a popular tune in ABA form.

The compositions must:

  • be in ABA Form
  • have 4 measures in each section
  • have a 4/4 time signature
  • use half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests
The students then selected hand percussion instruments for their performances.  Please check out some of their videos!

Rondo Form Compositions

Good afternoon!  The fifth grade students have been working on compositions in Rondo Form.   In rondo form, a main theme (similar to a refrain), alternates with other contrasting themes.  The compositions must:

  • be in ABACABA (rondo) Form
  • have 2 measures in each section
  • have a 4/4 time signature
  • use half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, half rests, and quarter rests
The students then selected hand percussion instruments for their performances.  Please check out some of their videos!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Weekly Review 2/8 - 2/12

This week, the first grade students were celebrating February holidays!  We finished our fun Groundhog's Day song and game from last week, and then sang a fun Valentine's day song called "Tony Chestnut."  Once we learned the words there was a great surprise, since the hand moves matched our song perfectly! The other song the students sang this week was "Heel, Toe, on the Line."  There were two words that the students did not recognize- "Ja" and "Nein." These words mean "Yes" and "No" in German. Each student dances with a partner in a circle and on the word "Nein," the partners turns their back against each other and ends up with a new partner. It was so much fun!

The second graders finished the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra activity.  They are now all experts on the orchestral instruments in the String, Percussion, Woodwind, and Brass families!  They also celebrated Valentine's Day with a song called "Special Valentine." It has a jazzy tune and a swinging rhythm, and students sang solos to share who their special valentines would be!  Some students chose a family member, some chose a friend, and some even chose a pet or celebrity!  

In third grade, the students had their first ever Recorder Karate Belt Test.   They were so eager to show us what they had been practicing, and they all did such a wonderful job performing Hot Cross Buns!  The students who passed received a white belt on their recorder, and the students who were not ready know what they have to work on over vacation so that they can pass right when we get back to school!  We are so proud of everyone!  The students also took home their yellow belt song, Merrily We Roll Along.  This song uses the pitches B, A, and G. 

The fourth and fifth graders continued their composing projects.  Fifth grade is composing in Rondo (ABACABA) Form, and the fourth graders are using ABA Form.  Students selected their percussion instruments, and tried out different sounds with their partners/groups.  They will be performing when we get back to school, and we will share the videos with you here on the blog!

In chorus, the students finished the "Painless Opera."  It is a very tough piece with many different melodies, tempo changes, and meter changes.   In addition, the students reviewed the following terms:
  • pianissimo
  • piano
  • mezzo piano
  • mezzo forte
  • forte
  • fortissimo
  • crescendo
  • decrescendo
  • ritardando
  • fermata
....and were introduced to a few new terms!
  • accelerando
  • caesura
  • sfortzando
The fourth grade chorus students completed the Surprise Symphony, and the fifth graders are almost finished learning the "Ode to Beethoven."  Only two more songs left to go!

We hope you have a fantastic February vacation, and a very happy Valentine's Day!  Stay warm :)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Weekly Review 2/1-2/5

We hope you had a fun and relaxing snow day on Friday.

This week, the first grade students celebrated some February holidays!  First, they learned all about Punxatawny Phil, the groundhog who looks for his shadow every February 2nd.   Then, we sang a fun Groundhog's Day song.  One child was selected to be the groundhog, sleeping in the center of the circle.  Following the beat of the song, the other students walked around the groundhog while singing.  At the end of the song the sleeping groundhog woke up, and named the first person that he or she saw. That new friend became the next groundhog! Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Monday, Feb. 8th so our students learned a Chinese dragon song and the traditions of this holiday. The Chinese New Year is based on the traditional lunar calendar and this year is the year of the monkey! Next week we will learn the dragon dance. 

The second graders continued their fun instrument family activity: the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra interactive game!  They learned all about the instruments in the string and brass family, and how their sound is produced.  Next week, we will finish the game with the percussion family! 

This was a BIG week for our third grader friends! They all took their notation test, then finally received their recorders!  If your child is in third grade, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • The students need to bring their recorders to class for each music day.  
  • Mrs. Rzasa and I will be taking "recorder attendance," and three or more unprepared days will result in a call home.  The students will learn best when they have their instrument in school!
  • Recorders are only allowed to be played in music and outside of school.  Please remind your child not to play on the bus or in their regular classroom.
  • To help students succeed, home practice is necessary.  Please have your child aim for 5 minutes each day.  Of course, more is always good too!  Since the recorders are new, they will likely practice a lot- but this may fade in the coming weeks.  Ask your child to play for you to help encourage them!
  • To clean the recorders, you may wash them with warm soapy water, or place them in the TOP RACK of the dishwasher. 
  • Thank you- we appreciate your patience and support as your child learns a new instrument!
** The third graders will also have an instrumental concert on Tuesday, June 7th at 8:30am. This concert will include violins and recorders. 

The fourth and fifth graders enjoyed composing their classroom composition with their partner(s). Many of the groups completed their compositions and had an opportunity to select a percussion instrument to perform the composition on.

In chorus this week, the students continued to work on the Painless Opera. Our fourth grade students finished learning Haydn's, "Surprise Symphony" and added some hilarious hand movements.

We hope you all have fun watching Superbowl 50 this Sunday!!!