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

Monday, February 27, 2017

String Update and Assignment

Fourth Graders
4A, 4B, 4C:  All fourth grade students worked on their grade level song, the Surprise Symphony.  (Scroll down for a video!)  They also continued to practice the Final Countdown.  It's a tricky one, but they have come such a long way and are more than halfway done with the piece!

Assignment for 4th graders:
  • D Scale
  • Surprise Symphony
  • Final Countdown 
  • Strings Will Rock You

Fifth Graders
5A and 5B:  The fifth grade students tried to see how well they remember Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  We played it from memory as a warm up, then discussed what variations means.   The students will be able to compose their own variations to perform at the spring concert, either alone or with a small group.   I can't wait to hear what they come up with!  The students also rehearsed Final Countdown.

Assignment for 5th graders:
  • D Scale
  • Final Countdown
  • Start to work on your Twinkle variations!  
  • Strings Will Rock You
Here are some 4th graders practicing their accompaniment part for the Surprise Symphony - I can't believe they just started this tune!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Review 2/20-24

First grade students celebrated Valentine's Day by singing, "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 to see who our new partner was going to be! 

 Mrs. Panag and Mrs. Burnham's class also performed their orchestration of, "Peter and the Wolf." Here are the videos:

Second graders also sang a Valentine's day song- "Special Valentine."  Each student randomly selected a valentine that said friend, pet/animal, celebrity, family member, and classmate.  When it was their turn to sing a solo, they named who their special valentine was.  The song is jazzy, and we loved snapping our fingers along to the beat!  We also finished the four instrument families from the  "Young Person's Guide. " After February vacation, we will playing Instrument Bingo to test their knowledge on the sounds of the various instruments!

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 (

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 :)

The fourth and fifth graders enjoyed practicing their compositions on the classroom percussion instruments.  Each group thoughtfully selected the instruments that they thought would sound best with the rhythm they composed.  After February vacation, we will be performing them.

In chorus, fifth grade students reviewed Fugue for Fast Food, continued on with Listen to the Rain, and began their grade level featured song, "I have a Shadow."  Fourth grade students reviewed Peter Piper, Fugue for Fast Food, continued on with Listen to the Rain and also learned, "The Gallop." Don't forget to bring in your white t-shirts so that we can decorate them in March!

Have a fabulous February break! Your only homework- To relax with your family and friends!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekly Review 2/6 - 2/10

Wow, this certainly was a snowy week!  We hope that you stayed safe and warm :)

The first grade students worked a lot on rhythm syllables and notation this week.   They continued to work on their Peter and the Wolf compositions, and will perform them in class soon!  They also learned a song for a holiday we had last week - Groundhog's Day.  The song is called "Time to Wake Up Sleepy Groundhog," and it includes a really fun circle game!  The students also enjoyed moving to a piece of classical music by Austrian composer Haydn - the Surprise Symphony!

The second grade students continued the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra interactive game.  They traveled through the safari to the string family, and some classes even continued on to the Brass family!  Next week we will be completing the activity, then will provide you with the link in case students want to play on their own at home.

The third graders had a wonderful time playing recorder this week in music class!  The students had their first 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 the weekend so that they can pass next week.  We are so proud of everyone!  The students who passed took home their yellow belt song, Merrily We Roll Along.  This song uses the pitches B, A, and G.

The fourth and fifth graders started working on rhythm compositions with different musical forms.  The fourth graders are composing in ABA form, where the beginning of the song is the same as the end.  A good example of a song in ABA form is "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  The fifth graders are composing in rondo form, or ABACABA.  The students are using half notes, half rests, quarter notes, quarter rests, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes.  Next week, they will start practicing their songs on our classroom percussion instruments!

Unfortunately, due to the snow, students missed their chorus rehearsals.   We will have to work hard to catch up next week!

We'll conclude this post with some photos/video from last week's assembly on jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald:

 Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekly Review 1/30-2/3

Our first grade students created their own orchestration of , "Peter and the Wolf" using classroom instruments. Characters were listed on the board and each class suggested the instrument that would represent each character. The instruments they got to choose from were: guiro, egg shaker, hand drum, wood block, ratchet, rhythm sticks and triangle. We reviewed the different note values- quarter note, quarter rest, and eighth note. Most of the classes got to pick their own groups and each group was responsible to come up with a four beat pattern to play on their instrument. Next week, we will have various students perform their rhythm and dramatize while Mrs. Rzasa and I narrates the story.

The second grade students have been learning about the four main instrument families, and this week they started to learn about the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.  The piece was composed by Benjamin Britten, a famous English composer, in 1946.   It was written to help teach children about the instruments of the orchestra.  The second graders played an interactive Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra game in class- it is a listening activity that takes you on a safari adventure as you visit the four instrument families and unlock each of their games.

Third grade students received a very special instrument this week- A RECORDER!! Students were very excited about this. Here is some information to help your students succeed with the recorder:
  • 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!

Our fourth and fifth graders are beginning their composition unit!  We reviewed all the different note values from our recorder unit in third grade- quarter note, quarter rest, half note, and an eighth note pair.  For our fifth graders, we added a half rest. Next week, they will be choosing their partners  and writing their compositions. Fourth grade students will compose an "ABA" form and fifth grade students will compose a Rondo form, also known as "ABABA."

In chorus, both grade levels reviewed, "Fugue for Fast Food." Fourth grade students learned a new song called, "Listen to the Rain." It's a beautiful song where students get to create rain using body percussion. Mrs. Rzasa and I also sent home flyers to inform parents about bringing in a plain white t-shirt to decorate for the concert. Here is the letter:

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We are beginning to plan for our Spring Concert which will be on Wednesday, May 3rd.  Our concert theme is, “Elements of Music.” We would like the students to bring in a plain white t-shirt which we will be decorating in class, then wearing for our concert!
Inexpensive t-shirts can be purchased at A.C. Moore, Jo-Ann Fabrics, or Michael’s with a coupon, or students can use a shirt they already own.

Please label the shirt with your child’s name or initials on the tag, and bring it in by Monday, February 27th.  Thank you!

Memorial Music Specialists


Have a fabulous weekend! GO PATS!!