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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Weekly Review 11/13 - 11/17

This week, the first graders worked on the sign language for "Over the River." We did it while singing, and then again while audiating (singing in our heads).  They also practiced other songs that they have been learning since September, to prepare for their performance in December!  Parents of first graders: information will be going home soon :)

The second grade students talked about Thanksgiving, and had the opportunity to share different ways their families celebrate. They then added a percussion accompaniment to their "Five Fat Turkeys" song from last week. Some students played on the xylophones, some played the metallophones, and some used the glockenspiels.  They learned two different ostinato patterns, which they played while the rest of the group sang. During their second music class, the students played "Turkey Tango, a game which helps to reinforce rhythmic reading.

The third graders learned about verse and refrain form while singing a hilarious song called "The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven"(to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean").  There are 5 verses in this song, and each was assigned to a different group of students. Some groups performed this week, and others will perform next week!

The fourth and fifth graders have been working hard to prepare for their winter concert on December 13th. Some of them auditioned for special parts, including solos, dances, and instruments.  Now that they have learned all of the music, it is time to start memorizing!

We hope you had an amazing weekend!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Weekly Review 11/6-11/8

Although we had a short week in school this week, three days of school did not stop us from having fun in music!

Congratulations to all our 4th grade students who sang so beautifully at our Veteran's Day Assembly! 

Here are some videos from that day:

Our first graders learned a Thanksgiving song called, " Hello Mr. Turkey How Are You?" Every time we sang the phrase, "Hello Mr. Turkey," we had to find a new friend in the room to shake hands with. It was also fun to gobble and wobble like a turkey. We also learned a song called, "Over the River and Through the Woods." It is also a children's classic which we read in class.  Next week, we will learn the song in sign language.

The second grade students are also starting to learn music for Thanksgiving.  We sang about "Five Fat Turkeys" and how they were scared of the cook that was looking for them! We added two spoken ostinato parts- "Cook- Cook" and "Five Fat Turkeys." Next week we will use Orff instruments to play the ostinato parts.

Third grade students performed a tango to the song, "Turkey Tango." A tango is a partner dance that originated in Argentina and Uraguay.  We played a game where students had to pass a ball around while the song was playing. When the music stops, whoever has the ball gets to pick a feather from one of the turkeys. There was a rhythm turkey and a dare turkey, where students had to act what was written on the feather. It was so much fun!

The fourth graders also learned about African drumming.  We taught them a drumming pattern from the Ewe, a group of people in Ghana and a few other African countries.  Once they learned the drumming pattern, we practiced it on our classroom jug drums and tubanos while we sang "Sing Noel."

Fifth graders were at Bourndale this week. We hope you all had fun there and we can't wait to hear about your experiences on Monday.

Have a wonderful weekend. Thank you to all the Veterans out there for serving our country!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Weekly Review 10/30 - 11/3

For those who celebrate, we hope you had a wonderful and safe Halloween!

This week, the first graders learned another song about bats called "Flap and Fly." Once they knew the song, we played a game to accompany it. Bats are nocturnal mammals, meaning that they sleep in the daytime and are awake at night.  We started the game with the lights 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.  The students even decorated their own bats to use during the game.  The first graders also learned two more fun songs, called "Skin and Bones" and "Ghost of John."

The second grade students read a book called "Old Wind." Then, they used various percussion instruments (as well as their voices!) as sound effects.  It was so much fun to add the instruments and vocal sounds to make the book sound even cooler!  We recorded the students' performances, and uploaded them to THIS blog post.  For their second music class, the students learned a song called "Bony Legs." It is part of a Russian folk story and was so much fun to sing!

The third graders learned a passing game called "Pass the Broomstick."  They started by singing the song (in minor tonality), then learned how to pass a rhythm stick along to the steady beat.  On the last beat of the song, whoever has the red stick is out!  Friends who were eliminated were able to play the egg shakers with the beat and sing along.

Fourth graders have finished preparing for the Veteran's Day Assembly.  The assembly is this Monday, November 6th at 1:30 p.m.  Due to space limitations, ONLY the parents of fourth graders may attend.  Thank you!

The fifth graders learned a great rhythm game called "Rhythm Spots." Four different colors were assigned to a different rhythmic value (blue = quarter rest, green = quarter note, yellow = eighth note, red = sixteenth note).  We then had students walk along to the steady beat while listening to "In the Hall of the Mountain King," and when they got to a spot they had to perform four beats of that rhythm before walking away to a different spot.  The tempo steadily increases in that piece of music, so they had to listen carefully to keep up with the beat!

The fifth graders also learned about African drumming.  We taught them a drumming pattern from the Ewe, a group of people in Ghana and a few other African countries.  The Ewe people use vocalizations for drumming, where the voice imitates the sounds of the drum.  These vocal syllables are their form of spoken notation, since music is not written down like it is in other parts of the world.

Once they learned the drumming pattern, we practiced it on our classroom jug drums and tubanos while we sang "Sing Noel."

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Old Wind Book

This week, the second grade students read a story called "Old Wind."  There are many different characters in the story, and each was represented by a different instrument.  The students played the hand drum, sand blocks, ratchet, vibraslap, whip, glockenspiel, chimes, or made sound effects with their voices!

Check out their videos:

(Unfortunately, the next video is cut short - I ran out of recording space on my iPad!)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Weekly Review 10/16-10/20

Here is what we did in music this week.....

This week, the first graders learned a chant called "I Think Music's Neat." Learning this chant  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).

Second graders 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!  We also watched a short film about the life of Ludwig von Beethoven. Ask your child about this particular composer!

In third grade, we played an elimination game with the song, "Dipidu" that we learned form last week. You had to find a new partner right after section B and at must be someone that you have never been paired up before. 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. 

The fourth graders started learning a new folk dance called "Bridge of Athlone."  They first found Ireland on the map, then talked about the history of that famous bridge.

Fifth grade students also added other instrument parts and a dance to, "Halloween Night."

In chorus, we continued learning the two grade levels songs- "Gong Xi "and "Minka." Both grades also learned a fun African Noel called, "Sing Noel!" 

Enjoy the gorgeous weather and have a fabulous weekend!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Weekly Review 10/10 - 10/13

Happy Friday the 13th!

This was a short week due to Monday's day off.  Here's what we were up to in music:

The first graders learned a new song this week called "Apple Tree" to celebrate the autumn season.  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 folded bandanna (the apple) onto the head of one of the students!  That student became the new apple tree, and the song was sung again! They also sang a song story in minor tonality called "Oh My."

The second graders extended their activity with the song "I'm a Nut" by adding instruments (rhythm sticks) and composing new verses.  Below are some of the lyrics they came up with:
  • I'm an acorn small and great, lying on a baby crate
  • I'm an acorn small and smelly, lying in my daddy's belly
  • I'm an acorn small and cool, lying in a swimming pool
  • I'm an acorn small and green, lying in a tambourine
Please visit THIS BLOG POST to watch videos of some of the students singing their verses!

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.

They also played a game called "Dipidu," and learned a Halloween song to practice sixteenth notes (du ta de ta).   We will continue these next week!

The fourth graders started a new folk dance called "Bridge of Athlone."  They first found Ireland on the map, then talked about the history of that famous bridge.  We listened to an Irish folk song, and the music was very familiar to one of our students...Madeline does Irish step dancing, so we asked her to perform a bit for us!

The students will be learning how to do the folk dance (not the step dance!) next week in class.  They also continued to prepare for our Veteran's Day assembly.

The fifth grade students loved the Bridge of Athlone dance from last year SO much, that we did it again this year! They remembered it quite well, so it was easy to review.  I decided to film Mr. Rabazzi's class...however we encountered a bit of an issue when the carpet slipped and knocked over the iPad!

Haha!  I was so impressed how they were able to recover and keep dancing.  We did film it once more, and it was a little less chaotic this time:

After the bridge dance, they started to learn a piece called "Halloween Night."  We discussed the song's tonality (minor), and reviewed how to read a musical score.  They had just enough time to learn two different xylophone parts, and we will continue playing next week.

In chorus, the students tried to sing "Celebrations Around the World" from memory.  We still need to clean up those verses!  Then they worked on their grade level pieces.  4th and 5th grade students also started a new African song called "Sing Noel." 

We hope you have a wonderful week!

2nd Grade "I'm a Nut"

The second graders recently learned a song called "I'm a Nut." They extended the activity by adding instruments (rhythm sticks), and composing new verses.  Below are some of the students singing the lyrics they wrote!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Weekly Review 10/2-10/6

This was my first week back from maternity leave and it was so nice to reconnect with all the students again. There were so many rewarding moments, which reminded me again of why I really enjoy teaching.

Here is what we did in music this week....

In first grade, the students learned a fun chant with instruments called, "Loose Tooth." Mrs. Rzasa and I noticed that our first grade friends are loosing many tooth these days that we thought they would have so much fun learning this chant. Three body percussion parts accompanied three word- Loose Tooth (two claps), wiggly jiggly (pats on your knees), and thread, head, bed (snaps). We extended the activity by taking out these words and only using the assigned body percussion when we sang these words in our heads. The students had so much fun that we added instruments to this chant!

Second grade students learned a silly song called, "I'm a Nut." It's a song about an acorn who is cracked because everyone walks all over him. Some students had a chance to make up their own rhyming phrase. Next week we will continue this activity and add instruments to this fun little song!

Our third grade students performed "Four White Horses" with the clapping routine. During the interlude (the middle part of the song inserted between a longer composition), the students made a conga line. It was so much fun and the students did a fabulous job with clapping to the song at a steady tempo.

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 Monday, November 6th at 1:30pm. We also continued learning the cup game routine.

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, we continued learning, "Celebrations Around the World." Fifth grade students started learning the Chinese lyrics to, "Gong Xi, Gong Xi." Fourth grade students continued learning, "Minka."

We hope you have a relaxing long weekend!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Weekly Review 9/25 - 9/29

Happy Friday!

This week, the first graders learned how to sing "do" and "so" on neutral syllables. This will help prepare them to sing bass lines and more!  We tossed a ball and when it was in the air they sang "so" (the higher pitch), and when it was caught they sang "do" (the lower one).  We finished up our Lucy Locket game from last week - it was so much fun!  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.   They even had time to start a new chant called "Loose Tooth."

The second grade students played the "Grizzly Bear" game that we taught them last week.  The song explores various dynamics, including piano and forte.  It's tricky to sing loud without screaming, but the students did a lovely job!  In the game, one student was a grizzly bear, and one student was a hunter. The hunter tried to wake up the bear while singing, and the bear had to guess who it was!  It was fun to identify our classmates by their singing voices. The other activity we did this week was "Ickle Ockle." 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."

The third graders did their Thread Follows the Needle dance in groups of 6.  Check out our video below!

Then we sang "Four White Horses," a traditional Caribbean folk tune with awesome steel drum accompaniment!  This song is in a musical style called calypso.  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 grade students learned a cup game this week.  It is a rhythmic cup passing routine which has been around for generations! (Most recently, you may recognize it from the movie Pitch Perfect). Next week we will change the tempo and do variations of the routine.

Fifth grade students reviewed the cup routine from last year, then performed it while singing "I've Been to Harlem." It is very challenging to sing while doing such a complicated task!  Especially since the rhythm of the song is quite different from the rhythm of the cup routine.  Next, they performed it while listening to Edward Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King."  It was so much fun since the tempo (speed) increases with each repetition! We used a traditional recording of the piece, as well as a heavy metal version!

In chorus, the students reviewed "Celebrations Around the World," then got started on their grade level pieces - "Gong Xi" for fifth grade and "Minka" for fourth.

The orchestra students have been doing wonderfully in their lessons, especially the fourth graders who are playing new instruments this year!

We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Weekly Review 9/18 - 9/22

Hello, and happy Friday!

This week, the first graders learned the word solo - when someone performs alone.  First, we practiced different rhythm patterns as a group, and then some students were chosen to try it by themselves!  They did a great job!  We also played instruments this week.  The students learned about rest position and playing position (as well as a few creative positions!), then played our "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" game from last week with rhythm sticks.  The first graders loved singing "Welcome Back To School" again, and also started a new game called "Lucy Locket."  We will continue playing it next week!

The second grade students played Rhythm Telephone.  A 4 beat pattern (using du and du-de) was silently tapped out on someone's shoulder. Then, that person had to pass the pattern on to the next child's shoulder - and so on until all students have received the rhythm.   To make it more challenging, our eyes were closed!  We checked in with the last person in line to see if the pattern was the same as the one we gave at the beginning.  It was tricky and a lot of fun!  They also played a hiding game called "Closet Key, " which is similar to "Lucy Locket."  This game helped them practice singing piano (quietly) and forte (loudly).  They started a new game called "Grizzly Bear," which we will continue playing next week.

The third graders started learning how to decode rhythm patterns this week.  They would hear a pattern played on the drum, then would repeat the pattern back to the teacher with rhythm syllables (du and du-de).  They also reviewed "Tideo," and did the dance once more with a challenging twist.  It was super tricky! We then started a new folk dance called "The Thread Follows the Needle."  In the activity one student is a needle, another student is a knot, and the rest form a line as the thread. As they sing the song and perform the dance, they end up making "cross stitches" with their hands, like magic!

The fourth and fifth graders did similar activities during general music, using different songs.  The fourth grade played with "Rocky Mountain," and fifth used "Sansa Kroma." They played a stick passing game and students were eliminated each round until we had a winner!  They had to pass on the steady even beat, and hopefully did not end the song holding the Red Stick of Doom! :)

In chorus, we did our stretches and sang a new warm-up song (along to a fun musical recording!).  Then, the students started to rehearse one of their songs for the winter concert called "Celebrations Around the World."

We hope you have an amazing weekend!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Weekly Review 9/11 - 9/15

Welcome back to school! We made it through our first full week - congratulations to everyone!

We hope you and your family had a fun and relaxing summer. Today, we sent home the following letter:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

As our school year begins, we would like to welcome you and your family into the music community here at Memorial Elementary School. 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, showcasing some of  the skills that your child will develop throughout the year:

4th Grade Veteran’s Day Assembly - Monday, November 6, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.
4th/5th Grade Winter Concert - Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.
1st Grade Showcase - Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.
4th/5th Grade Spring Concert -  TBD - We are waiting for the state testing window to be announced. This concert will be sometime in May at 7:00 p.m.  A letter will be sent home when this date is finalized, and it will be posted on our blog.
2nd Grade Memorial Day Assembly - Friday, May 25, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
3rd Grade Recorder and Violin Concert - Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

For all performance information, weekly lesson reviews, songs, games, and classroom photos/videos you can visit our Memorial Music Blog:

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

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


The first graders are so excited to have music class this year! We discussed the rules and fun things like BRAVO and Music Superhero, and did a great activity called "Jump Jim Joe." It is a movement game where students sing and pick a different partner each time for the dance. The students also sang or spoke their name as a solo in our "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" activity and chant! We started another new song this week called "Welcome Back," which helps students explore musical opposites: fast vs. slow, and loud vs. quiet.

Can you believe that our second grade students were jump roping in music this week? We learned a a fun song called the "Skipping Rope Song." Each round, we sang a different child's name as they jumped over the rope (making sure to stay with the steady, even beat!).

The second graders also played a game similar to "Lucy Locket" called "I Have Lost My Closet Key." We will continue the game next week!

In third grade, the students played along with one of my favorite beginning of the year activities- "Hey Children."  The students learned the song first, followed by a clapping routine.  Once the routine was mastered, the clapping routine was transferred to the rhythm sticks so we could play the name game!  It was a lot of fun. They also started a great circle dance called "Tideo" - we will finish this next week.

The fourth grade students learned a song called, "Rocky Mountain."  This song explores high and low voices, and was a bit tricky at first!  The song has a hand routine that goes along with it- we did the routine in whole notes (4 beats), half notes (2 beats), quarter notes (1 beat) and eighth notes (1/2 beat).  For the second class this week, we were able to use "drums" (recycled water jugs) instead of our laps.  EVERY student had a drum to play!  It was fun to play and sing at the same time.

In fifth grade, we sang an African song called "Sansa Kroma."  Ask your 5th grader about the meaning of the song!  Once we learned all of the words, we did a drumming activity similar to the one the fourth graders did with their song. It was a blast (and quite loud)!

We hope you have an amazing weekend!