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

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Weekly Review 2/24 - 2/28

This week, the first graders finished their Peter and the Wolf unit by playing Peter and the Wolf Jeopardy! The questions ranged in difficulty based on their point value, and categories included Instruments, Characters, Facts, and more! They really enjoyed reviewing the story/music with some friendly competition.

In second grade, students tested their abilities to recognize and reinforce the sounds of instruments by playing Instrument Bingo.  Students were given bingo cards with different instruments from the woodwind, brass, percussion and string families.  When a recording of an instrument was played,  they had to identify the instrument and see if it was on their card. If it was, it got marked with a button. Once the students had 5 buttons in a row on their card, they had BINGO and won a musical prize!

The third graders have been continuing their recorder unit, and have even earned some Recorder Karate belts! One class each week is their centers day, which includes the following centers:
  • Staff Games (this week we played "Busted")
  • Composer Corner
  • Book Nook
  • Music Card Games (this week was "the Merry Widow")
  • Practice
  • Testing

At the testing center, the students get to work one on one with the teacher to practice or test for their next belt song. Once they pass a song they get a belt (colored band) to add to their recorder, AND they sign the poster on the bulletin board in the hallway!  During their other class, the students learn new notes and reinforce their notation/reading skills. Please encourage your child to practice at home!

The fourth graders continued their ukulele unit, reinforcing the C, G, F, and A minor chords. Next week will be their last week, although we hope to grab the instruments again later on this spring! Some of the students also played a fun game of Musical Twister to reinforce staff notation. It's important to brush up on "old" skills so that they don't forget them!

The fifth graders finished their ukulele unit, and are looking forward to starting a composing unit next week! The students will be able to use any of our classroom instruments (including the ukulele!), as well as their orchestra/band instrument or any that they may have at home. We can't wait to hear their creative compositions!

We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Weekly Review 2/10- 2/14

It's the week before February break and we accomplished so much in music this week!

Our first grade students celebrated Valentine's Day by learning a fun song called, "Tony Chestnut." This song involved pointing to various parts of our body and using sign language for a few words. After we learned the song, we sang it in different tempos- slow, medium and fast.  We also learned a fun dance called, "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!

The second graders finished the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra activity and are experts to the four instrument families. Feel free to name an instrument and see if you child can guess correctly which family that instrument belongs too. Next week, we will test their knowledge of instruments further by playing, "Instrument Bingo."

Some of our Third grade students had the opportunity to test for their white belt song and they did very well. Your students should know the notes B, A and G. 

Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • The students need to bring their recorders to class 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 grade students are continuing to learn the Ukulele. This week, they mastered the notes C, F, Am and G by playing familiar folk songs. Students were asked to partner up with another student to help each other. Here are some pictures of our students having fun!

We hope you all have a fun and relaxing week with your family!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Weekly Review 2/3 - 2/7

This week in music, the first graders finished up their Peter and the Wolf listening maps! It was so much fun to learn about all of the instrument themes for the different characters. We started to watch the Peter and the Wolf movie, which we will finish next week! 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 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! Some of the students also enjoyed dancing to a piece of classical music by Austrian composer Haydn - the Surprise Symphony! Others had fun moving to Freight Train.

The third graders took their notation test this week.  We are so proud of the students for all of their hard work - they did a wonderful job! They also received their recorders so we can start this new and exciting unit! Please remind your child to bring in their recorder and folder on music days from now until the end of the year.

The fourth and fifth graders continued their ukulele unit. They are getting really good at their G, F, a minor, and G chords. Then, they played a few different songs on the instruments.

In chorus, the students continued We Can Plant a Forest and their grade level song. They will start a new song next week!

Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Weekly Review 1/27-1/31

Our first grade students continued to work on their listening map.We also celebrated Ground Hog Day with a fun song and activity.  They learned all about Punxatawny Phil, the groundhog who looks for his shadow every February 2nd.   Then, students learned a groundhog song called, "Time to Wake Up Sleepy Groundhog."  One child was selected to be the groundhog to be in the center of the circle.  Following the beat of the song, the other students walk around the groundhog while singing.  At the end of the song the groundhog puts his/her head up and names the first person that he or she sees. That new friend becomes the next groundhog! We will continue to play this game next week!

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 are anxiously waiting to receive their recorders next week. Each third grade student will take their music test on Tuesday or Wednesday. Make sure you study but PLEASE do not stress out over it!

Our fourth and fifth grade students are on their second week of learning the Ukulele. We reviewed the a-minor chord and C chord. We added two more chords this week- F chord and C chord. Here are some of our students performing, n "Stay With Me" which uses the C and F chord.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the SUPERBOWL!!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Weekly Review 1/20 - 1/24

This week in music, the first graders started studying Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." It 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.  Each part of the map included a fun activity, such as drawing the different characters and identifying different instruments. We will be finishing this activity next week. Here is a list of all the character in the fairytale. Each character in the story represents an instrument and has a musical theme:

  • Bird: Flute
  • Duck: Oboe
  • Cat: Clarinet
  • Grandfather: Bassoon
  • Wolf: French Horns
  • Hunters: woodwind theme, with gunshots on timpani and bass drum
  • Peter: String Instruments
The second grade students continued their instrument family unit. This week they learned about the brass and woodwind families. 

Common Brass Instruments:
  • Trumpet
  • Trumbone
  • French Horn
  • Tuba
Common Woodwind Instruments:
  • Piccolo
  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Oboe
  • Saxophone
  • Bassoon
The third graders visited the amazing Cary Hall to see the Lexington Symphony perform! The student saw a few familiar faces in the orchestra - from when the symphony's quartet visited Memorial.

They were taken on a musical journey through time, starting in the year 900.  Music was primarily vocal (sung by voice) until the Renaissance, when recorders and drums were popular.  Little by little, instruments were added, such as violin, viola, cello and bass (very common in the Baroque period).

In the late Baroque and Classical periods, concertos were performed! Unfortunately, the young musician who was going to perform was sick and unable to attend. We hope he feels better soon!

In addition, more wind, brass, and percussion instruments were added to the ensemble!
Pretty soon, everyone was on stage, and the students were introduced to some lesser-known (but still important!) instruments such as as the contrabassoon, bass clarinet, and English horn.

By the end of the concert, there was a full modern symphony orchestra on stage!  As a finale, they played a medley of Star Wars, composed by John Williams.  This was certainly a favorite!

 Big thanks to the parents who volunteered to chaperone- we hope you had fun too!

The fourth and fifth graders are learning how to play ukuleles! If your child has their own ukulele, they are more than welcome to bring it to their first music class of the week (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday). This week, they learned the parts of the ukulele and how to play a C-chord. Changing chords is very important so we practiced changing from an open strum to a C-chord. 

The fifth graders remembered some of the chords from last year, so they were also able to review A minor and F major. Then they did a ukulele play along on YouTube! 

We hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Weekly Review 1/13-1/17

Our 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 and learned about the different characters and the instruments they represented. Next week, we will begin a listening map.

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 percussion family and the  string family.

Common Percussion Family Instruments:
Snare Drum
Bass Drum
Timpani/Kettle Drums

Common String Family Instruments:
Double Bass

Next Thursday, Jan. 23rd, our third grade students will take a field trip to Carey Hall to watch the Lexington Symphony perform. We will leave at 9:00am and will be back by 11:30am. Dressing up is highly encouraged! 

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." 

We also began chorus this week! Our theme is still the Biome with songs about the desert, ocean, savannah and the rain forest. We will be singing a song from a famous cartoon and also a Disney song. Can you guess what they may be?

Have a wonderful long weekend!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Weekly Review 1/6 - 1/10

Wow, our first full week of school in 2020!

This week, the first graders learned a silly movement chant called "Hands, Hands." We warmed up our cold bodies by moving just one body part at a time. 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).  After we reviewed our solfege tones, 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.

The second graders 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). Next week. they will "perform" the story on percussion instruments, following the changing tempos.

To prepare for their upcoming field trip, the third grade students had an exciting visit on Tuesday from four members of the Lexington Symphony Orchestra. Students got up close and personal with the violin, viola, clarinet, and tuba (or "TUUUUBAAAAA!"). The performers played beautiful music and taught us about their instruments.   We discussed the four instrument families (string, brass, woodwind, and percussion), and learned a little bit about concert etiquette.

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 plaed chords along with a fun song from the 80s by a Norwegian band called A-ha...Take on Me!