Thursday, September 25, 2014

Good Ears!

On Wednesday morning the last third grade class finished their "Four in a Boat" project, showing the phrase form of the song (4 phrases: the first two are almost the same and the last two completely different). Their job was to work with a team of 3-4 people to create a series of 3 moves that fit the form. It was amazing how many could do it perfectly! They could hear exactly where to change the movement to fit the song.

Moving on to the next third grade class (and the day 2 plan for the week) meant listening for pitch. Mrs. Martin's class learned three songs in very short order using syllables and body ladder to show the melody. It was amazing how quickly they got it (of course we've been working up to this for three years!). After the first song one child said "I can see that"—she could understand how the movement and sound matched. Suddenly there were many children with "ah-ha" moments as we discovered that the solfege syllable ladder matched our movements, too. And once we added words we had a song! From there we looked at a printed song and talked about how the notes also match the high/low sound of our voices.

The ability to listen—and to know what to listen for—is the most important thing to develop for musicians. This is a quick demonstration of the syllable system that has been used for centuries. It's called solfege. Here you'll see it used with a body ladder that helps children connect to the shape of the melody physically.

Mrs. Hanks' class singing a scale with body ladder

Third grade solfege syllable to song demonstration

 Next week we play melodies on xylophones and glockenspiels, paying attention to how far apart the sounds are on the instrument. Eyes will help, but music class is all about sound—all about developing good ears!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Community Singing

We're just finishing our first unit of the year: community singing and choir. We had interesting discussions about when people get together to sing and why.

Students spent time improving their voices with activities like matching pitch (singing in tune), listening to the rest of the ensemble (blend), and warm-up exercises to stretch the range and strengthen breathing muscles. It's been an interesting journey—complete with  giggles—but the improvement in sound and singing ability has been phenomenal!

It's fun looking forward to possibilities for community singing during the school year. This week is a great example when we can sing the Titan Fight Song! Here are the words:

Titans, Titans, all cheer for thee.
To our colors loyal are we.
Strong, united, victorious to be.
Rah! rah! rah! for SCC!
Titan, Titan loyalty!
Onward to victory!

Here are some of our youngest Titan fans!

Mrs. Henely's first graders singing the Titan Fight Song

Mrs. Hucka's first graders singing the Titan Fight Song

Mrs. Grantham's kindergarteners singing the Titan Fight Song

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's National Anthem Week!

On September 12, 1814, Francis Scott Key was aboard a British ship in the middle of Baltimore's harbor in the middle of a battle against the British. He was trying to free an American doctor and was so happy to see the flag of his country flying in the morning that he wrote a poem to celebrate the occasion. He called it Defense of Fort McHenry and sang it to a very popular tune brought to America years earlier. He didn't even sign the paper, thinking it wouldn't be around long (he had done this sort of thing before, and those songs didn't last long either). Little did he know that two hundred years later we'd still be singing his song, now known as The Star-Spangled Banner.

Every year about this time the fourth grade studies the song and its history, learning the words from memory. Other students learn patriotic songs and do a movement sequence to John Philip Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever.  You may share a musical moment with your child by downloading this exciting piece of music and listening to it together. To purchase and download the recording we used in class, go to and click on Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My!

In this video clip, Mrs. Gutshall's second grade class sings two verses of America. The class made quick work of learning how to read the second verse!

2G America

Here is Mrs. McAlexander's class singing their new patriotic song for the year!

2M You're a Grand Old Flag

Here are the songs learned in other grade levels:

Kindergarten - America (by the end of the year)
Grade 1 - America the Beautiful
Grade 3 - God Bless America
Grade 5 - God Bless the USA

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Beautiful Singing . . . and Concert Dates

The 2014-15 beginning-the-year unit is How to be a better singer. Students are learning how to listen while they sing and how to make their voices work better and sound better. So far they're sounding great! Here's a video clip of Mrs. Erickson's fourth graders singing 3-part harmony on One Bottle of Pop.

4E One Bottle of Pop

2014-15 Elementary Concert Dates
Monday, December 8        4th-5th General Music
     7:00 pm in Middle School Gym
Monday, March 2              2nd Grade Concert           6:30 pm in Middle School Auditorium
Monday, March 9              1st Grade Concert            6:30 and 7:15 pm in Elementary Gym
Tuesday, March 31            Kindergarten Concert      6:30 and 7:15 pm in Elementary Gym
Tuesday, April 7                3rd Grade Concert           6:30 pm in Middle School Auditorium

We're off to a great beginning, and I look forward to some wonderful music-making. If you have any questions, please send an email.


Mrs. Panning