Wednesday, October 26, 2016

2016-17 Elementary Concert Dates

It’s been an exciting first quarter! We’re working on pitch and melody with ear
training, reading, and playing on barred instruments. Students have accomplished 
a great deal! I continue to be wonderfully amazed by their progress!

Elementary Concert dates
Fri., Dec. 16         Fourth and Fifth Grade Concert         7:00 pm Middle School Gym
Mon., Mar. 6         1st Grade Concert                     5:30, 6:15, 7:00 pm Elementary Gym
                       (times for specific sections will be announced later)
Tues., Mar. 21      Kindergarten Concert               5:30, 6:15, 7:00 pm Elementary Gym
                       (times for specific sections will be announced later)
Mon., April 3         2nd & 3rd Concert                       6:30 pm Middle School Auditorium

                                             Hope to see you there!

Tuneful Singers, Wonderful Beat-keepers, and New Instruments!

New xylophones at the Elementary building
What a way to start the year! I've been pleasantly surprised by what children remember from last year—and what beautiful singers we have! Every level has some amazing individuals, but there are whole classes singing lovely songs already.

Audio recording of Kindergarten singing Ten in the Bed (no video, but great sound!)

This year I see Transitional Kindergarten through Third Grade twice a week and have time to fit the morning sessions of 3-year and 4-year old preschool in both Rockwell City and Lake City. Our focus at the beginning of the year is to get back into singing tunefully and making our rhythms come together on a common beat. Here are some second graders creating machines to fit the beat. Making music is all about working together to make things happen!

Machine 1                                        Machine 3                             Machine 5

Machine 2                                        Machine 4                             Machine 6

 We've played games and a few instruments, so there's been a lot of fun happening in the Music Room.

Here Kindergarteners create short and long sound compositions with balloon pictures. Next they will add triangles and rhythm sticks.

Singing, Stories and Orff Instruments at the Middle School

At the Middle School we're enjoying new carpeting and paint in the music hall. Even more exciting is the addition of bass bars! Fifth Graders tried them out this week (along with autoharps and Boomwhackers), and they are really excited to add them to the concert.

Although they have music only once a week, we're planning an interesting performance. Students voted on a story and chose The Bakers' Dozen. Now each class is preparing to play one piece of music and move to another piece to make the story come to life. We'll have actors and narrators, too. Their concert is Friday, December 16 at 7:00 pm.

Titan Orff Ensemble with our new bass metalophone in the lower right of the photo

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Titan Orff 2016-17

We had our first meeting today for Titan Orff, a fifth grade ensemble that prepares a piece or two for the concert. They meet during recess time on Tuesdays from the end of September through the concert.
What a great group of kids we have! I'm looking forward to seeing their work this year. They were so excited to get started. 

We got some new instruments last spring, so the kids are really excited to put it all together. Here are some photos of students hard at work learning a tricky accompaniment for a piece by Carl Orff, the teacher and composer for whom the instruments are named.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Still Playing . . .

It's been a wonderful year in the music room—too busy to keep up with my blog postings unfortunately!

We have been playing a great deal this year. Today the second grade played Fiddlestix, a card game for identifying instruments of the orchestra. It's been a fun way to explore the different instruments.  Third graders will play an online game called Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, where they can explore Benjamin Britten's theme and variations and search for instruments. Here's the link if you'd like to play at home.

Fifth graders are exploring with theme and variations. They watched a video of Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra and described all the variations as they happened.  They created some "visual variations" of Hot Cross Buns which we will play with Boomwhackers. Here are a few of their really incredible ideas. I can't wait to hear what they'll sound like with accompaniments they create in teamwork time.

The fourth graders are learning the names of  lines and spaces. We read flash cards, have staff rug races, and play other games like Sneaky Snake pitch puzzles. We also read melodies to play with recorders.

Our concerts this year were quite successful. Students wrote reflection paragraphs. At the end are the class paragraphs for first and second graders. The third graders wrote their own, in rough draft form. They did a wonderful job!

We just finished two little performances: first grade went to Sunny View and second grade went to Sunny Knoll. We asked both groups to sing America with us, and it was wonderful to share the music in that way!

Kindergarten are playing patterns on barred instruments. It's been an amazing journey with this class. They are so ready to learn and have accomplished so much this year. I'm really looking forward to all the fun we'll have learning to read music next year!

Kindergarten playing aabb patterns on barred instruments

First graders are working up to playing melodies on barred instruments. I'll post video soon if we get something good.

In addition to all the games, the elementary students have been folk dancing this year. It's wonderful to see students perform them independently—they're doing a great job of working together making great music!

Class Concert Reflections

Mrs. Case’s Second Grade
We had a great concert! In the Clock Store Story we all got to our spots at the right time. In Order in the Court, we did our ostinato correctly. We all sang well with the third graders for You’re a Grand Old Flag. We should practice being more quiet and polite on the risers. Unfortunately, the mikes weren’t working, so we didn’t hear much from “the Mamas” in Buy Me Chocolate, but we sang well together. It turned out as the best concert ever!

Mrs. McAlexander’s Second Grade
We had a great concert! Flying away in the Syncopated Clock part of the Clock Store Story was fun, and there were no bumps, even though we didn’t have much space. Buy Me Chocolate was good because everyone stayed together on our ostinatos. We watched the director but could have done a better job. We could have done a better job staying quiet on the risers, too. Our concert turned out really great!

Tick Tock, Here We Come
by Mrs. Gutshall’s Second Grade
We had a great concert! We sang well on You’re a Grand Old Flag. The “children sound” was heard every time in the Clock Store Story. The children were good at acting, too. We should practice watching the director. We had fun!

Mrs. Henely’s First Graders Reflect on their Concert
We had a good concert. Ladybugs was good because everyone played when it was the right time. Pumpkin Stew was good because everyone knew what to do. I’m Growing Up was good because the boys knew when to sing to the girls and the girls knew when to sing to the boys. If we did the concert again, we could fix our movement. We could use more high/low and close/far away. We had the best concert ever.

Mrs. Hucka’s First Graders Reflect on their Concert
We had a good time at the concert! We started with Four Shapes, and we had good poses. I’m Growing Up was good because the solo singers sang beautifully and the whole class sang beautifully, too. If we did the concert attain, we would fix the Chinese Dance. We would practice to get rid of our nerves. We would fix Bow Wow Wow  by choosing good manners. We loved our concert!

Mrs. Ricke’s First Graders Reflect on their Concert
We had a good concert. We sang together on America the Beautiful and My Country ‘Tis of TheeFor Ladybugs we played our instruments together at the right time and listened while Mrs. Panning sang the verses. The cardholders put the cards up at the right time for Pumpkin Stew. If we did the concert again, we would like to sing the words better for I’m Growing Up. We liked our concert and were glad to see our families at the end.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tuneful, Beatful, Artful . . . and Play

First Grade playing with movement levels to
create a "Dragonfly Sculpture"
for Poor Little Bug on the Wall.
For about 20 years, I've studied the work of Dr. John Feierabend, who could honestly be called a music education guru at this point in history. His many followers around the country have started a professional development association complete with teacher trainings, conferences, a website, and a Facebook forum. It's a great group and I'm happy to be part of it, but the most exciting thing is that as I spent a couple weeks last summer training to use his curriculum. The part for younger children is called First Steps in Music and the older kids (starting in second grade) use Conversational Solfege.

I'm doing the full implementation with the younger children, and working the older students in gradually as they're ready. TK, Kindergarten and First Grade do activities like "Move It!" where we mirror beautiful movements to match beautiful music in order to feel the artistry the composer shares with listeners. We clap and sing rhythm and pitch patterns with syllables to train brains to understand the language of music so that reading and writing music will be easier later. All of this builds the primary music skills: keeping a steady beat and singing in tune. I'm trying to encourage children to become . . .

Tuneful - able to sing in tune, because everyone who can speak can sing unless there's a severe hearing loss (and even then I've heard people who sing beautifully)

Beatful - a word Dr. Feierabend made up that means to make music with good timing and to be able to listen and stay together with the group

Artful - able to feel the expression of a variety of musical styles and to communicate with musical materials
Kindergarteners playing with
 short and long sound.

These skills build musical independence.

Here is the TK class in Rockwell City demonstrating
beatful and tuneful with the simple song Pitter Patter. They learned it the same day I recorded this.

TK singing Pitter Patter

Play is the other vital piece this year. For years experts have said, "play is the child's work" and "children learn from play". There are so many ways to play in the music room, and this year I'm determined to use as many as possible. Already we've played singing games at every level and student-directed activities for exploring concepts. It's a fun way to teach and learn, but more importantly, the children are becoming more tuneful, beatful, and artful, which means they are gaining musical independence!

Fifth graders did some beautiful work with accelerando, the musical term for speeding up the tempo. Here are a few examples of second grade playing with patterns as they create "Human Machines" in preparation for working with sound patterns called ostinato. Each child used the negative space created by the other people's moving parts and worked together to create a final product that moved together like a machine.

Machine #1

Machine #3

Fourth Graders playing with
sixteenth note rhythms.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Beginnings

I'm using some new curriculum materials that build knowledge through the ear and the body, so class starts much differently in the music room this year. Children start singing as soon as they enter the room. The singing circle becomes a movement game circle, and we're off on the learning process! We've already covered steady beat, low/middle/high levels, stationary/traveling movement, and stop/start (in Kindergarten).  It's been wonderful to hear the beautiful harmony in the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes! And the games make it a much more fun-filled way to start class! 

The Kindergarteners are wonderful singers this year! We're learning the Titan Fight Song to get ready for Homecoming, so we made a clip of some excellent singers in Mrs. Grantham's class.

 Titan Fight Song

Here are First Graders creating “string melodies”. They made a shape with the string and used their voices to sing the shape as if it was a melody. This gets them ready to understand how notes go up and down on a staff.

The Second Graders are doing a fantastic job reading rhythms! They remember so much from first grade and are begging for harder notes to read.

Here is a group of Third Graders singing simple harmony on Make New Friends.

Make New Friends

The Fourth Graders did a movement project making human machines. The goal was to work together using stationary movement without sound and create something that has multiple moving parts. Check out this wonderful creativity!

 Machine 1

Machine 2

Machine 3

Machine 4

Machine 5

 Machine 6

Machine 7

The Fifth Graders have been learning accellerando, the musical term for speeding up. Mrs. Folsom's class won the challenge to stay together as we got faster. This is a clip of their top speed on Flea Fly.

Flea Fly

What a great start to the year! What a wonderful bunch of musical kids we have! Until next time . . . keep making music!