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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

Weekly Review 12/11-12/15

It was a big week for our 4th and 5th grade students! We would like to CONGRATULATE them on a wonderful performance on Wednesday night!

Our first grade students are working hard to prepare for their Winter Showcase on Wednesday, December 20th at 1:30pm. We hope to see you all there! We reviewed the songs that we will be singing and also learned Jingle Bells in sign language. Here is Mrs. Gearin's class singing, dancing and signing to the verse and refrain.

The second graders continued watching the New York City Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker.  Next week, they will follow a listening map to another dance from The Nutcracker.

The third grade students are continuing to learn music notation.  This week they reviewed the parts of the staff as well as the line and space notes.  Then they played a fun staff games to reinforce what they have learned. The game is played on the floor staff - "On Your Mark, Get Set, Notate!"  Here are pictures of two students playing musical twister:

Here are some pictures from the 4th and 5th Grade Winter Concert on Wednesday evening. Videos of the concert will be posted in the next few days. 

We hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Weekly Review 12/4 - 12/8

This week, the first graders have been continuing to prepare for their Winter Showcase (December 20th).  One of the songs they will sing is about a sleigh ride in the snow.  I'm sure you know it - Jingle Bells!  We talked about the verse and the refrain, then did a great passing game with our wrist bells. The students who got the bells when it was time for the refrain got to play them during that section of the song.  They also learned about The Nutcracker, a famous ballet by Tchaikovsky.  The students learned a special finger dance to go along with the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy.

The second grade students learned about an important Jewish holiday - Hanukkah.  We read them a book about latkes and applesauce, then they sang a song that connects with the story.  They also reviewed their Nutcracker dance from last week, then got a special treat. They started to watch the Nutcracker, performed by the New York City Ballet! Unlike a play or musical, the performers in a ballet don't speak - the story is told by their movement, as well as the words spoken by the narrator.  We will finish the movie next week!

The third graders reviewed the symbols on the staff that they learned last week. Then, they sang a song to help them remember the order of the line notes and space notes on the staff, called "I Don't Know the Notes."  We will be continuing to review how to read musical notation for the next few weeks to prepare the students for the recorder.

Some students had a visit from the middle school music teacher, Mr. Mullen. They had so much fun playing and singing with the stretchy band!

The fourth and fifth graders are all ready for next week's concert! We hope you join us on Wednesday, December 13th (9:00 a.m. for students, 7:00 p.m. for parents and families).

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Weekly Review 11/27-12/1

We can't believe we are heading into the month of December. Here is what we did in music this week:

Our first graders completed their Bluebird activity from last week. The game helped us review the difference between high and low pitch.  Then, we continued to work on Peppermint Candy Cane, a song that we will sing for our Showcase on December 20th! A letter should have gone home on Friday inviting you all to our 1st Grade Winter Showcase. If not, here is the letter:

Dear Parents,christmas-singing-coloring-pages-7.gif

We would like to invite you and your family to our annual First Grade Winter Showcase on Wednesday, December 20th at 1:30 p.m. in the Cafetorium.  

We look forward to seeing you there!

Mrs. Niu and Mrs. Rzasa
Music Specialists

**If you would like to dismiss your child after the assembly, please send a note to the office.

The second grade students learned about our new composer for December, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He is a Russian composer who wrote The Nutcracker.   We reviewed the March (a song from The Nutcracker that they danced to in first grade).  Each student listened carefully to the different themes in the song and moved like soldiers, puppets, and mice!  Then, they learned a brand new dance for the Trepak.  The students even danced with scarves! Here are some pictures of our second grade friends reviewing the parts of the Marche.

The third graders have started their music notation unit to help prepare them for the recorder.  First, they learned about the staff, and then we added the treble clef, time signature, bar lines, double bar line, repeat sign , and labeled the measures.  The students did a wonderful job drawing and labeling these musical items. Here are some pictures:

Our fourth and fifth grades students are busy preparing for their winter concert in just less than two weeks! Here is the letter that we sent home about what time students should report to school and what do wear. Please feel free to email us if you have any questions!

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The music department at Memorial presents:

Celebrations Around the World
Wednesday, Dec. 13th, 2017
7:00 p.m.

Your child has been working very hard towards this concert and we hope you and your family can be there to support them. Feel free to email or call us if you have any questions.

  • Concert Attire:  
    • Morning- Students may wear regular school clothes in the daytime- but please no t-shirts with logos or words.
    • Evening- Our concert is about celebrating winter traditions around the world. We would like the students to dress in clothing that represents their culture.  Here are some ideas:
      • Wear traditional clothing from your family’s culture
      • Wear colors from your country’s flag
      • We are all Americans - students may also wear their favorite fancy outfit
Note:  This is a performance, so all students should look nice.  We do not want jeans, sweatpants, or sports gear.  Thank you!

  • Call Times:
  • Band students will report to the music room at 6:40 p.m.
  • String students will report to the lesson room at 6:40 p.m.
  • Chorus students who do not play an instrument will report to the kindergarten wing at 6:50 p.m.

  • Please note: ALL 4th and 5th graders must attend the Winter Concert. The students have been working so hard since September to prepare for this performance, and we need all of their wonderful voices and instrumental skills in our ensembles!  (Please contact us in advance if you have a conflict with attendance)

* We look forward to seeing you there! *

Mr. Napierkowski, Mrs. Niu, and Mrs. Rzasa

We hope you have a fabulous weekend!

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!