Friday, March 30, 2018

Kindergarten Classes Reflect on their Concert

All musicians think back on performances to enjoy the good parts and think about how to improve the parts that didn’t work as planned. Each year when we finish a concert, I lead children to do the same process.

In kindergarten I asked them three questions:
  1. What did you do to make good music at the concert?
  2. If we could do the concert again and you were the teacher, what would be on your list to practice?
  3. What was your favorite piece and why?

Thew were quite articulate! Here are their answers.

Mrs. Stelling’s Class

Making Good Music

This Land is Your Land
  • We walked at the right time.
  • We used creeping beats with our arms.

  • We started together.
  • We played creeping beats on the drums together.

Charlie Over the Ocean
  • We used singing voices on the echo.

Practice This
This Land is Your Land
  • Practice moving with walking beats.

  • Practice playing our drums the right way.

Charlie Over the Ocean
  • Think about what to catch.

The Car Song because it’s silly
Mouse Mousie because there was good singing and because we could chase around the circle.
Muffins because it goes from loud to quiet.
Mail Myself to You because it has a fun refrain.
Aquarium because we move our hands beautifully and because it’s silent.

Mrs. Klaassen's Class

Making Good Music
Ebenezer Sneezer
  • We played Boomwhackers at the right time.
  • We used singing voices.
  • We played barred instruments at the same time.
Mouse Mousie
  • We played an accompaniment.
  • We did a good job singing.
Practice This
Ebenezer Sneezer
  • Play the right bars on barred instruments.
  • Get quieter.
Figure out how to find Titan Spots in the Gym.

Old Brass Wagon because it's fun to circle around.
Mouse Mousie because it's fun to run around.
This Land is Your Land because it's fun to swing our arms.

Mrs. Nicholson's Class

Making Good Music
The Car Song 
  • We sang the refrain.
Mouse Mousie
  • We used singing voices.
  • We played the barred instrument accompaniment on the beat.
This Land is Your Land
  • We listened and did the right moves at the right times.
  • We played the drums correctly.
Practice This
There was a Tailor had a Mouse
  • Practice all the "words" in the refrain.
Mouse Mousie
  • Work on cheering without voices.
Use our singing voices better.

The Car Song because it's funny.
Mouse Mousie because we got to play a game.
Tailor and Mouse because it's a funny story.
This Land is Your Land because we got to swing our arms.
The Story about Anna because we got to sing "I'm the King of the Castle".

Studying Tchaikovsky

This year the elementary students have studied Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky. He is best known for his ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and especially Nutcracker. We've watched excerpts of each of them.


Every year in December the first graders explore Nutcracker. I read the story with Tchaikovsky's music playing, then we watch the party and beginning of the dream. We spend some time exploring the moves that are the building blocks of dance (travel, turn, higher/lower, close/away) then watch three versions of one of the second act dances and discuss how the dancers showed the various building blocks. After that I put on the music and the kids create their own version. We usually have time for only the Chinese Dance, but later learn the Russian Dance and March with  parachute routines. They become favorites for years!

There are many easily attainable versions of Nutcracker if you're interested in watching.

Clips from Swan Lake

These are the clips we watched in class to learn more about the story of Swan Lake and how a ballet works.

Prince's birthday party waltz

Background information and interviews with the Corps de Ballet

Dance of the four swans (referenced in Corps de Ballet clip)

Main swan theme

The Story of Sleeping Beauty

For an excellent picture-filled summary of the story Tchaikovsky used, check out this link.

Clips from Sleeping Beauty

First graders watched the first clip from Sleeping Beauty (though we saw a different version), and students are curious to see more, especially how she pricks her finger and falls asleep. I can recommend these videos from Youtube if you'd like to share them with your child.

Act 1 Garland Waltz
This very famous waltz is entertainment at Aurora's 16th birthday party.

Aurora dances with the Princes
As in many fairy tales, the main character must marry. This is Aurora's famous dance with the princes, filled with amazing balances on her toe shoes (en pointe). We had some interesting discussions about these shoes with third and fourth grade dance students.

Aurora pricks her finger and falls asleep

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.