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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Weekly Review 10/24 - 10/28

In first grade, students added three percussions instrument to the song,"Thump, Thump, Thump."  A hand drum was played during the crescendo on the words, "Thump, Thump, Thump," a triangle was played on a quarter rest, and egg shakers were played on the spooky words, "Who's There?" Every student got a chance to play all three instruments.   We also learned a song and played a 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.

Second grade students revisited "Ghost of John" and performed an ostinato on an Orff instruments. We reviewed the Orff instruments which consisted of xylophones (bass, alto and soprano), metallophones (bass and alto) and glockenspiels (alto and soprano). Here is a picture of the instruments :

Our third grade students also got a chance to play on the Orff instruments this week. Instead of playing a simple accompaniment with two notes on the song "9 Lives", we performed a melody line that involved alternating mallots. Here are some students from Mrs. Cyr's performing on the xylophone. 

We also brought out an old friend, Bony Legs, and he helped us learn the "Funeral March of the Marionette" by French composer Charles Gounod.  Here is Bony Legs:

The fourth graders played Orff instruments to accompany "Black and Gold," and learned the partner song called, "Trick or Treat." Here is Mrs. Gonzalez's class performing the partner song, "Black and Gold."

Our Veteran's Day Assembly is coming up in a few weeks! All parents are invited to attend the assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 9th at 1:15pm. Here are the lyrics to the song: Veteran's Day Song. 

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. Next week, we will add other instrumental parts to the song.

Chorus lyrics are on the blog! Please check out the Chorus Lyrics and Recording Page! We learned two new songs this week: Jingle Bell Rocks! and Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay. 

Have a wonderful weekend and stay WARM!

Monday, October 24, 2016

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A:  The students are still working on the A string and D string notes on their new instruments, and practicing reading their new clefs!  Today we played through "Song for Christine."  We also started one of our orchestra pieces, Salamander Samba!  Keep scrolling to check out their video :)

Assignment for 4A:
  • Continue pages 12 and 13 in the Essential Elements book
  • Salamander Samba!

4B:  Today we played through all of Salamander Samba, and focused on our rhythm and new G string notes.

Assignment for 4B:
  • Salamander Samba
  • Start to look at St. Nick's Canon on the Housetop

4C:  Today we kept working on the A string and D string notes, focusing on good tone and bow control.  We played the D major scale, then practiced "Rolling Along" on page 8 in the Essential Elements book.

Assignment for 4C:

  • Practice ALL of the A string and D string notes.
  • D scale, ascending and descending (up and down)
  • Start the Salamander Samba

Fifth Graders
5A:  The students did a wonderful job playing the first half of Saint Nick's Canon on the Housetop!  We got up to rehearsal 33...almost to the end of the song!  I also recorded a video of the students, but sadly it was deleted due to to an iPad error :(

Assignment for 5A:
  • Please focus on Canon on the Housetop.  I am hoping we can get past rehearsal 33 in orchestra on Thursday!

5B:   The students learned some new notes on the E string:  Open E, first finger F#, and third finger A.  They played through Saint Nick's Canon on the Housetop up to rehearsal 25.

Assignment for 5B:
  • Please focus on Canon on the Housetop.  I am hoping we can get past rehearsal 33 in orchestra on Thursday!

Please note Orchestra this Thursday is for 5th grade only

Students can practice Salamander Samba along with the recording found HERE

Friday, October 21, 2016

Weekly Review 10/17 - 10/21

This week, the first graders reviewed musical dynamics:  piano, forte, crescendo, and decrescendo.  We sang "The Bats are All Asleep," a song in minor tonality in call and response form.   The call (sung by the teacher) features a crescendo, and the students' response has a decrescendo!  The first graders also repeated a favorite activity from last week, "Looking for Dracula."  Then, I told them a story called "Thump, Thump, Thump." The students helped create the story, then they sang the song.  Next week, we will add 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 in minor tonality to go along with it!  When the story was over, we played an accompaniment on the Orff instruments (xylophone, metallophone, and glockenspiel). 

The third graders completed their "Ding Dong Diggidiggi Dong" activity from last week, reinforcing our new rhythm (du-ta-de-ta, or sixteenth notes) on our classroom percussion instruments.  Then, they sang another song about a cat called "9 Lives."  Before we sang the lyrics, we sang the song with solfege syllables, starting on "la" - since the song is in minor tonality!  Then, we reviewed proper mallet technique for the Orff instruments.  Next week, the students will play the song's melody on the xylophone, metallophone, or glockenspiel.   

The fourth graders had a great time finishing a fun Irish folk dance they started last week, the Bridge of Athlone.  Here is a photo of one of the rows...exhausted (but happy!) after completing the activity:

They also continued to rehearse music for the Veteran's Day Assembly.  (Fourth grade parents may attend: Wednesday,  November 9th at 1:15!)

The fifth graders listened to two pieces by German composer Ludwig von Beethoven.  Then, they used a Venn diagram to compare the two pieces to see what musical qualities they have in common! The students also finished the folk dance they started last week, the Boston Tea Party Dance.  It was tricky, but so much fun!

In chorus this week, the students finished their grade level feature songs.  Everyone also worked on our combined piece, "North Pole Rock and Roll."  We had a little fun with our warm ups this week too...we sang "Ghost of John" in a 3 part round, focusing on tonality, tone, and intonation.

We hope you have a fantastic weekend! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A:  The students have been doing an excellent job on viola and cello!  Today we reviewed the D string notes:  Open D, E, F#, and G.  It can be a little tricky to get all of these notes in tune, but the students did a great job!

Assignment for 4A:
  • Continue to practice the D string notes.
  • Please work on the A string notes too! (Open A, B, C#, and D)
  • Start to take a look at our first orchestra piece, Salamander Samba.
4B:  Today the students performed a song that they chose from page 14 or 15 in our book.  They did such a great job that I had them all play again so I could record videos! (Check them out at the bottom of this post).  We also practiced the A string notes and played through some of the songs on page 10, then learned how to read open G and open E on the staff.

Assignment for 4B:

  • Practice ALL of the A string and D string notes.
  • Play the D scale, ascending and descending (up and down)
  • Start the Salamander Samba
4C:  Today we continued to reinforce the notes on the D string, then we moved to the A string.  We also worked on string crossings with the bow!

Assignment for 4C:

  • Practice ALL of the A string and D string notes.
  • D scale, ascending and descending (up and down)
  • Start the Salamander Samba
Fifth Graders
5A: Today we spent most of our lesson working on St. Nick's Canon on the Housetop.  The rhythm can be a little bit difficult, so make sure that you count first before you play!

Assignment for 5A:

  • Work on the beginning of Canon on the Housetop, up to rehearsal 13.  This is the part we will focus on in orchestra on Thursday!
  • You may start to practice the First Finger Suite.

5B:  Today we focused on St. Nick's Canon on the Housetop.  There were many note mistakes, so please review all of the notes in the D major scale!

Assignment for 5B:
  • Canon on the Housetop, up to measure 22.
  • You may also start to practice the First Finger Suite.

Please note:  Orchestra this Thursday is for 5th grade only

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Weekly Review 10/11-10/14

With Monday being a holiday, it was short week in music this week. Here is what we did....

All grade levels have been studying our new composer of the month, Ludwig van Beethoven.  In 2nd grade, we watched a short movie biography of Beethoven.

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! We also learned a song about a nocturnal animal called, "The Bats Are All Asleep."  The teacher sings (using a crescendo), then the students respond (with a decrescendo).

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. Here is a video of two students performing their dance:

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.

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!  We also 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. 

Fourth grade students are continuing to rehearse for their Veteran's Day Concert.  Here are the lyrics to the song:


Over hill, over dale
We hit the dusty trail,
And the caissons go rolling along.
In and out, hear them shout,
Counter march and right about,
And the caissons go rolling along.

Then it’s hi! hi! hee! In the field artillery, Shout out your numbers loud and strong, For where e’er you go, You will always know That the caissons go rolling along.

Coast Guard:

We're always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee.
Through surf and storm and howling gale,
High shall our purpose be.
"Semper Paratus" is our guide,
Our fame and glory too.
To fight to save, to fight and die,
Aye! Coast Guard we are for you!

Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh. Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-day-day-day. Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam, Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.


From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;

First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marines

Air Force:
Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun!
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under
Off on one terrible course!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing will stop the U.S. Air Force!

5th grade students also finished the "Bridge to Althone" dance. Here is Ms. C's class performing the dance:

We will finished learning the "Boston Tea" party dance next week.

In chorus, both grades completed learning their featured songs. We also continued learning, "The North Pole Rock and Roll Medley."

Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bridge of Athlone

Last week, the fifth grade students discussed the similarities between folk music and folk dancing.  Then, we found Ireland on the globe and learned about a bridge in southern Ireland, the Bridge of Athlone.

Here's a video of Ms. Conceison's class performing the Bridge of Athlone dance:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Weekly Review 10/3 - 10/7

Happy October!  This is what we did in music this week:

Due to our daily vocal warm-ups, the first graders are becoming experts on the solfege tones "so" and "mi."  They are almost ready to move to "la" and "do!"  The students really enjoyed playing three new instruments to accompany the "Loose Tooth" chant, on the following words:

  • "Loose Tooth" clapping = hand drum
  • "Wiggly Jiggly" patting = guiro
  • "Thread," Bed," "Head" snapping = triangle
They also learned an echo song in minor tonality called "Oh My" - sometimes the class echoed as a group, and sometimes the students did solos!  To finish out their musical week, the students sang a song just perfect for the season - "Apple Tree" - and started to play a fun game.  They will complete the activity next week!

The second grade students reinforced the importance of "Do" with an exciting ball activity.  We sang as a class this week, and next week we will repeat the warm up with soloists!  They also learned a challenging new song called, "Come and Follow Me."  Each phrase is sung a little bit higher than the last.  Once the students were comfortable with the song, we added the body percussion!  It takes a lot of coordination to get the hang of, but we worked on it slowly and patiently.  The students have done a wonderful job!  Then, they started to watch a short film about the life of Ludwig von Beethoven.  We will talk more about him next week!

The third graders had an amazing time practicing "Four White Horses" with the clapping routine in groups of four - also called quartets!  Here are videos of two groups practicing this routine:

They also started to review what they remembered about Beethoven from second grade.  Then as a class, we filled in a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast two different pieces by Beethoven:  Sonata in G and Moonlight Sonata.

We asked the students 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.

Here is what Mrs. Kipp and Mrs. Cyr's class came up with:

If you want to listen to these two pieces to compare them for yourselves, here they are:

The fourth graders have started to prepare for their Veteran's Day assembly.  They will be singing an Armed Forces medley, which goes through the songs for each of the five branches of the military.  Fourth grade parents: please mark your calendars for Wednesday November 9th!

The fifth grade students discussed the similarities between folk music and folk dancing.  Then, we found Ireland on the globe and learned about a bridge in southern Ireland, the Bridge of Athlone.  They spent time learning a folk dance inspired by that Irish bridge, and can't wait to do it again next week!

In chorus, the students continued to rehearse their grade level piece, as well as one of our combined songs, North Pole Rock and Roll.  We also reviewed the musical tie symbol, and how it affects the values of each rhythm.

Have a fabulous long weekend!

Fifth Grade Orchestra

I just wanted to share a video of the fifth grader string players in yesterday's orchestra rehearsal.  They did such a wonderful job sight reading one of our simpler songs, the Salamander Samba.  It was the perfect warm-up piece to get our year started!

Monday, October 3, 2016

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A:   Today was our first day on BRAND NEW INSTRUMENTS!!  Yay!  The students did a wonderful job learning the playing positions and technique for the viola and cello.  We played through pages 6 and 7 in the book, using the bow instead of doing pizzicato.

Assignment for 4A:

  • Work on the open strings, as well as the notes on the D string:  Open D, E, F#, and G.  
  • If you want to move ahead, check out page 10 in the book to try out the A string notes!

4B:  Today we spent time reviewing the notes on the D and A strings.  We played different examples from the Essential Elements book, and challenged ourselves to sight reading them!

Assignment for 4B

  • D Scale
  • Select ANY song from page 14 or 15 to practice and play in our next lesson.
4C:  Today we reviewed playing position and rest position.  Remember to keep a nice posture, and don't let that violin droop!  We also went over the proper way to hold the bow, and practiced bowing on open A and D strings.

Assignment for 4C
  • Continue to work on your bow hold, and remember to use long bows while playing
  • Review the fingered notes on the A and D strings.
  • Select ANY song from pages 10-13 to practice and play in our next lesson.
Fifth Graders
5A and 5B:   Today we started to work on one of our orchestra pieces, Salamander Samba.  

Assignment for 5A and 5B
  • Scales - focus on tone
  • Please have all of Salamander Samba prepared by THURSDAY for our first orchestra rehearsal!  It is only played on the open strings, so it is a good review piece.
  • You can play along with the recording here: Salamander Samba
  • Try to think of what you want to play as our 5th grade featured song.