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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Weekly Review 10/15 - 10/18

This week in music, the first graders sang a spooky song in minor tonality called "Ghost of John." The students danced around the room pretending they were ghosts as they sang. Next week, we will try singing this as a round! They also sang a call and response song, "The Bats are All Asleep," which helped demonstrate dynamics: piano, forte, crescendo, and decrescendo. In their second music class, they learned another call and response song called "Skin and Bones." It was funny AND spooky!

The second graders learned a fun October activity called, "A Funny Little Lady." After students learned the song, they played a game where one student closed their eyes and sat in front of an imaginary door. Their job was to guess who the soloist was when a particular part of the song was sung. They also sang "Skeleton John" in unison, then as a round. Practicing simple part singing like this will help them when they get to chorus in fourth grade! In their second music class, they learned a song called "Witches' Stew," then added an activity with hand percussion sound effects. Students got a chance to pick various funny percussion instruments and played them on the words "Ew," "Ick," "Ugh," and "Yuck." The students really enjoyed it!

The 3rd grade students had a great time using the Orff instruments this week.  They first sang the minor scale (based on "la"), then learned "Nine Lives."  Of course, the song is about a cat so we had pictures of black cats all over our music!  They played an ostinato pattern on the instruments (xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels) to accompany the tune. They also played a game to go with the song "Ghost of John" which was taught to them by a fellow student! Thanks for teaching it to us, Dylan!

The fourth graders have started to prepare for their Veterans 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 Thursday, November 7th at 1:30pm - we can't wait to see you there!

The fifth graders reviewed the Bridge of Athlone dance from last week. Here is a video of some of the students dancing! 

Then, they learned a new folk dance called The Boston Tea Party. It is a tricky dance inspired by the time of the Boston Tea Party, which took place in 1773. It was interesting to compare and contrast the Irish dance with the American one.

In chorus, the students continued to rehearse their music for the winter concert. Hope everyone had a great week and weekend! 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Weekly Review 10/7-10/11

This week, the first graders reviewed the Loose Tooth chant, then switched their body percussion movement to hand percussion accompaniment!
  • "Loose Tooth" clapping = hand drum
  • "Wiggly Jiggly" patting = guiro
  • "Thread," Bed," "Head" snapping = triangle
Here is Mrs. Felton and Mrs. Burnham's class performing Loose Tooth:

We also played a fun moving activity called, "Looking for Dracula." Ask your first grader about this fun activity!

Our second grade students did many variations of Come and Follow Me including body percussion and singing the song in a two and three part round.

Students also continued listening and moving to the song: The Night on Bald Mountain.  Here is a video and pictures of students performing their dance:

We learned a fun October activity called, "A Funny Little Lady." After students learned the song, they played a game where one student closed their eyes and sat in front of an imaginary door. Their job was to guess who the soloist was when a particular part of the song was sung.

The third graders completed their "Ding Dong" activity from last week, reinforcing our new rhythm (du-ta-de-ta, or sixteenth notes) on our classroom percussion instruments.

Students also learned 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.  Students had the opportunity to play a simple ostinato on the xylophone, metallophone, or glockenspiel. Next week, students will learn to play the melody on the Orff instruments.

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.We will continue this dance next week.

Fifth grade students reviewed the "Bridge of Athlone" dance from last year. Next week, they will learn the Boston Tea Party Dance. 

Have a wonderful three day weekend!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Weekly Review 9/30 - 10/4

Last week in music, the first graders finished their Apple Tree song and game. It was so much fun! Then, they learned an echo song in minor tonality called "Oh My." The students practiced singing in a large group, in a duet, and as a solo!

So many of our first grade friends are beginning to loose their baby teeth, so we wanted to teach them a little chant called "Loose Tooth." This chant had body percussion parts for the following words: loose tooth - two claps, wiggly jiggly - alternating pats on your knees, and bed/head/thread - snaps. Next week we will transfer these body percussion movements to three different instruments!

The second grade students enjoyed working on a challenging song called "Come and Follow Me."  Each phrase is sung a little bit higher than the last, with one phrase ("singing together, as one!") completing each part. Once it is mastered, we will sing it in a round! Since it is October, we listened to a spooky piece of classical music by Mussorgsky called "Night on Bald Mountain." The students first listened to the composition with their eyes close and had to describe the music. Then, 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 it was performed by the leader, the other student became the leader. Next time, the class will have to guess the secret code for each pair!

In third grade, we played an elimination game with the song, "Dipidu" that we learned last week. Students had to find a new partner right after section B, and at must be someone that they have never been paired up with before. Then, the students reviewed rhythms in duple meter: quarter notes, eighth note pairs, and quarter rests. Next, they learned a new rhythm: sixteenth notes! They sang a song called "Ding Dong" to help reinforce each rhythmic value, and read the rhythms on the musical staff. To complete the activity, each rhythm was transferred to a different percussion instrument for the students to perform.

The fourth and fifth graders enjoyed practicing and performing their different cup games. In chorus, they reviewed their grade level featured songs, and started to learn one of their combined pieces.

And here are some photos of the fourth graders on their orchestra instruments!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekly Review 9/23-9/27

We can't believe it is already the last full week of September. Here is what we did in music:

First grade students learned their first two solfege tones:  sol and do.  For every pitch in music, there is a visual hand sign. The height that the hand sign rests is correlated to how high or how low the pitch is. We tossed around a ball to help us practice singing those pitches. When the ball was tossed in the air everyone sang "sol," and once it was caught everyone sang "do."  They also finished their "Lucy Locket" game from last week.  Then we made soup for our home room teachers.  All were chefs and participating in making the soup by adding their own ingredients.  As each child added an ingredient, we performed the "Chop, Chop, Chippety Chop" chant.

Second grade students learned a fall song "I'm a Nut" and composed their own version. Here are two partner groups:

In third grade, we learned a traditional Caribbean folk tuned called, "Four White Horses." This song is in a musical style called calypso. Students thought that they heard a piano or a drum. They actually heard the steel drum! We talked about the steel drum and saw how it was played in a popular song.  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.

The fourth grade students learned a cup game this week.  It is a rhythmic cup passing routine which has been around for generation. Many of the students know 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. We will continue with this routine next week and learn one more cup routine!

We hope you are enjoying the lovely weather! Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Weekly Review 9/16 - 9/20

This week in music, the first graders enjoyed playing a game called "Lucy Locket."  One person is Lucy (he/she hides the pocketbook in the room) and another person is Kitty Fisher (he/she finds the pocket). The rest of the students play an important role in this song/game because they help Kitty Fisher find the pocket adjusting their volume as they sing the song. If they sing forte that means Kitty is close, and if they sing piano he/she is farther away. This song/game is very similar to "Hot and Cold."

The second grade students learned a song and game called "Ickle Ockle." The lyrics are quite silly and the phrase "ickle ockle" doesn't even mean anything - it's gibberish! Once the students knew how to sing the song, they played the game. One person was the "Ickle Ockle" and had to give another friend a high five after the song ended. The other students each have to find another friend to give a high five. The last student without a partner becomes the new "Ickle Ockle." Then, they learned a fun rhyming song called "I'm a Nut." They will do more with this song next week!

The third graders started the week by performing their Thread Follows the Needle dance in small groups. They discovered that it is VERY hard to concentrate on the dance while singing the song. Check out their video below!

In their second music class, 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 showed them a fun clapping routine. They will practice this routine next week!

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! Then, more sticks were added with different colors meaning different students would be out. It was so much fun!

In chorus, the students discovered the importance of warm-ups - both physical (stretches) and vocal. They then learned important skills for singing in a chorus, including proper breathing and posture.  Our two expanding ball friends, Bill and Ted, help us with breathing. When the balls expand, we fill our lungs with air, and then release on a "tsss" sound as the balls contract (just like when our lungs deflate!).  It's important to control our air, which will help when we sing long phrases and high notes in our music!

We hope you have an amazing weekend!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekly Review- 9/5-9/14

We completed our first full week of school and got a chance to meet all our new first grade students. Everyone should have received a welcome letter with the dates of our music performances. If not, here are the dates:

4th Grade Veterans Day Assembly - Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 1:30 p.m.
4th/5th Grade Winter Concert - Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
1st Grade Showcase - Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. 
4th/5th Grade Spring Concert -  Wednesday, May 6, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.
2nd Grade Memorial Day Assembly - Friday, May 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
3rd Grade Recorder and Violin Concert - Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 8:30 a.m.

We got new superhero chairs this year, thanks to our wonderful PTO. Here is a picture of Jennifer McFadden sitting in the comfortable chair:

Here is what we did in music for past two weeks:

First grade students are so excited to have music this year. Many of them were eager to play an instrument so we took out the hand drum for the students to see and play. We learned a chant called, "Chicka- Chicka Boom Boom" and students introduced their names by singing it in a creative way. We also learned "Welcome Back" song which introduces tempo (fast and slow) and dynamics (loud and quiet). Students had fun singing the song in different ways. The song, "Lucy Locket" was introduced. We will play the game next week.

Our second grade students practiced how to jump rope with a fun song called "Skipping Rope" They had to jump in when their name was sung and jump out when the song was completed. We had many students who could do this! During their second music class, we learned "Grizzly Bear" which reinforced dynamics that they learned last year.

In third grade, the students played one of our favorite activities of the year, "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!  We learned a song a dance called "T-I-D-E-O" and "The Thread Follows the Needle."

Our fourth and fifth grade students learned a fun Mexican folk dance called, "Los Machetes." This dance tells the story of sugar canes being cut during the harvest. Los Machetes was created my Mexican farm workers who spent a great amount of time using the tool for harvesting. Traditionally, real machetes are use during the dance. We used rhythm sticks instead.

 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). Then, we used hand drums and bongos instead of our laps.  EVERY student had a drum to play! It was fun to play and sing at the same time. After they finished playing the drums, we started a stick passing game to the same song.

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. Next week, we will learn the stick game that goes along with the song.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

He's a Pirate - Orchestra Video Project!

After our spring concert in early May, the orchestra got started on a fun project. First, they spent a few weeks learning "He's a Pirate" from the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Then, our lesson room transformed into a recording studio! It was so much fun to record them playing, and a great way to document all of their progress on their instruments. Then it was time to shoot!

Last week during their lessons, the students directed and acted in small video clips to accompany the song. We even got to borrow the green screen from the library!

Here's their completed project:

Monday, June 17, 2019

Memorial Lunch Party!

This was a great year for the Memorial Orchestra!  Here are some photos from Friday's lunch party: