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

Monday, January 30, 2017

String Update and Assignment

After two weeks with no lessons (ahh!), we were finally able to start properly learning some of these tunes :)

Fourth Graders
4A, 4B, 4C:  All fourth grade students finished learning Strings Will Rock You.  It sounds fantastic!   We also began to work on Final Countdown, and got up to measure 16.  Next week, we will start their featured 4th Grade piece, the Surprise Symphony.

Assignment for 4th graders:
  • D Scale
  • Final Countdown - review what we did in lessons today, then see if you can read ahead on your own up to measure 32.
  • Strings Will Rock You

Fifth Graders
5A and 5B:  The fifth graders have also been spending time on Final Countdown.  The 5th grade violinists even made it all the way up to rehearsal!  Next week will will start a new combined piece, the Blue Danube Waltz.

Assignment for 5th graders:
  • D Scale
  • Final Countdown
  • Strings Will Rock You

Here are some videos to check out...they are not exactly like the pieces we are playing, but listening to them will help you get the tunes in your head! :)

Strings Will Rock You - 4th AND 5th Grade

Surprise Symphony - 4th Grade ONLY

Final Countdown - 4th AND 5th Grade

Blue Danube Waltz - 4th AND 5th Grade  (the part we are playing starts at 1:39)

...And last but not least, here's a video of our viola/cello/bass group practicing their accompaniment part to Final Countdown:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekly Review 1/23 - 1/27

This week, the first grade students have continued their Peter and the Wolf unit by watching the movie! We don't watch movies often in music class, but this one is a great way for the students to connect the story with the music.  Next week, they will be finishing this unit with a fun and exciting activity!

The second graders learned about the fourth instrument family - the woodwind family.  We read the book so the students can become more familiar with the main woodwinds in the orchestra: the flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon.  They also learned about the saxophone, but it is more typically found in a jazz band and not an orchestra.  Then, they celebrated Chinese New Year by learning a song called "Xin Nian Kuai Le." Once they could sing the song, we added accompaniment on the xylophones and  bongos.

The third grade students went on an amazing field trip this morning!  We visited Cary Hall in Lexington to see the Lexington Symphony perform.  They played music that dates back to the Medieval Period, and worked their way through music history...all the way up to Star Wars by John Williams!  Here are some photos from their trip:

They also took their notation test, and all of the students have passed!  Congrats!  Next week we will be starting to play the recorder.  If your child already has a recorder, please have them bring it in next week.  Thank you!

The fourth graders finished their chords unit this week.  Some of the students even played a chord accompaniment to Shake it Off!  It was a lot of fun.

The fifth grade students completed their chords unit as well!  They really enjoyed performing an accompaniment to A-Ha's Take on Me.

In chorus, we finished downloading the rest of our music and started rehearsing the new songs.  Most of the classes got to the end of the Fugue for Fast food, and the fourth graders can now sing all of Peter Piper!  The fifth graders voted on their featured song (which will be I Have a Shadow), and we started working on our combined song with a slower tempo - Listen to the Rain.

We hope you have an amazing weekend!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekly Review 1/17-1/20

It was a short week in music. Here is what we did.....

In first grade, students finished the Peter and the Wolf listening map activity.   Each part of the map included a fun activity, such as drawing the different characters and identifying different instruments. Here is list of all the character in the fairytale. Each character in the story represents an instrument and has a musical theme:

The second graders learned two new instrument families this week:  the brass family and the  string family.

Common Brass Family Instruments:
French Horn

Common String Family Instruments:
Double Bass

Next Friday, Jan. 27th, our third grade students will take a field trip to Carey Hall to watch the Lexington Symphony perform. We will leave at 9:15am and will be back by 11:30am. Dressing up is highly encouraged! We will also have our recorder test on Tuesday and Wednesday so don't forget to study! Everything that you need to know is on the study guide!

Our fourth graders practiced playing chordal accompaniments to, "Auld Lang Syne" while the fifth grade students practiced playing chordal accompaniments to the famous 80's hit, "Take On Me." Here is a video of Mrs. Weinberg's class performing, "Auld Lang Syne" while Mrs. Warford's class is singing the song:

In chorus, both grade levels completed the fun food song, "Fugue for Fast Food." Fourth grade students also finished learning their grade level song, "Peter Piper." 

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly Review 1/9-1/13

In first grade students learned a fun little song with movements called, "A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea," Each time we sang the song, we replaced the word "sea" with hands, chop, knee, toe, and Oo- was- she was." We came up with movements to reflect those words. We also began our  "Peter and the Wolf" unit which 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.  We will be finishing this activity next week!

The second graders  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 percussion family. In order for an instrument to be categorized in the percussion family, the instrument needs to be shacked, struck, scrapped. Some instruments from the percussion family include: maracas, timpani, piano, triangle, hand drum, and xylophone. 

The third graders had a VERY exciting week!  Four members from the Lexington Symphony Orchestra visited Memorial to help prepare the students for next January 27th's field trip. There is still time to turn in your money for the field trip. It is only $1! Recorders are $6 each and they are due next week.

Here is a video and some pictures from the visit this week:

Our fourth and fifth grade students got the opportunity to review how to play the tone chimes with the correct technique. We played an accompaniment using various chords to two different songs. The fourth graders played chordal accompaniments to, "Auld Lang Syne" while the fifth grade students played chordal accompaniments to the famous 80's hit, "Take On Me." Here is a video of Mrs. Harlow's class performing, "Auld Lang Syne"

This week was our first chorus rehearsal for 2017. We began the class with a fun warm up of the folk song, "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean." Every time we sang a word that began with a "B," we had to stand up or sit down. Our theme for our spring concert is, "The Elements of Music." Fourth graders learned a fun song tongue twister song with tempo changes called, "Peter Piper" while the fifth graders learned "Fast Food for Fugue." Many of us started getting hungry and craved for hamburgers and fries while singing the song.

Have a wonderful long weekend!

Monday, January 9, 2017

String Update and Assignment (plus lunch group photos!)

Fourth Graders
4A, 4B, 4C:  All fourth grade students worked on a new song for the Spring Concert - Strings Will Rock You.  They are trying to improve their reading skills, so for this song, please don't write in note names/fingerings!  I also gave them another concert song, Final Countdown.

Assignment for 4th graders:
  • Strings Will Rock You - we will be playing this in orchestra this Thursday!
  • Pages 15/16 - students should work on these pages next week.  We won't have a lesson on Monday due to MLK Day, so this will help them stay on track.

Fifth Graders
5A and 5B:  

Assignment for 5th graders:
  • Strings Will Rock You
  • D Scale:  Half notes, then quarter notes, then eighth notes...followed by sixteenth notes if you can!  
  • Final Countdown

Here are some pictures from the lunch group we had back in December. We were celebrating all of the hard work and practice that the students endured leading up to the winter concert.  I'm so proud of them!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Weekly Review 1/2 - 1/6

Welcome back, and Happy New Year!

This week, the first grade students learned a silly movement chant called "Hands, Hands." We warmed up our cold bodies by moving just one body part at a time. I think we could all agree that one of our most favorite was singing and moving 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." One student played the part of the dog who was sleeping in the middle of the room while another student distributed the bone to one person in the room as the class sang the song. Whoever had the bone on the phrase, "Who stole the bone?" got to sing the solo part of "I stole the bone!" It was so fun to see students guessing who they thought had the bone.

Second grade students reviewed a musical term from last year: tempo.  Tempo is the speed of a piece of music. We practiced listening and moving to various tempos with a song called "Freight Train." Students also had a chance to compose a "tempo story." The class chose a topic, then as each part of the story was added, students determined its tempo: adagio, andante, or allegro (slow, medium, or fast).  Then, we "performed" the story on percussion instruments, following the changing tempos.  It was so much fun!

The third graders have been reviewing instruments and instrument families to prepare for next week's visit from the Lexington Symphony Orchestra.  We played a really fun game of "Instrument Family Four Corners."  We assigned these families to each corner of the room: Percussion, String, Woodwind, and Brass.  Then, we announced an instrument - students had to determine which family it belonged to, then quickly travel to the appropriate corner.  To extend the activity, we then played a recording of an instrument.  The students then needed to figure out what instrument they were listening to before moving to the correct corner.  Some were very tricky!  The third graders also reviewed the notes and spaces on the staff by playing a fun beanbag game on the floor staff.

The fourth and fifth grade students started a new unit - 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!  Once everyone knew how to build a chord, we used the classroom floor staff to learn how to notate and label them.

The fourth graders also learned a song for the New Year, "Auld Lang Syne" (a Scottish tune that is typically heard right after the ball drops in Times Square!).  Next week, we will be adding a chordal accompaniment to the song using the tone chimes.  The fifth grade students will get to play chords along with a fun song from the 80s by a Norwegian band called A-ha...Take on Me!

(tone chimes)