Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Update

Welcome to May Everyone!!!

Temperatures are rising and excitement is building as the school year comes to a close.  Even though time is short, it does not mean that we are sitting back on our heals and coasting.

Kingergarten Music

The kindergarten classes have earned a little bonus day recently and we have started watching a video about the 6 Pillars of Character.  These pillars include Respect, Citizenship, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Trustworthiness.  These characteristics have been a focus for the students throughout the entire year.  Besides that video, we have discussed the circus most recently.

The kindergarten students have had our own circus parades in our room that encourage the students to move and act like many of the circus performers that you would see if you were watching a circus parade.  We have had drummers, and acrobats and lion tamers and lions and zebras and even elephants in our parades.  The students have seen a little video footage from the world famous Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily Circus.  This circus spends the winter months in Florida and each spring they load up the circus train and ride the rails to Baraboo, WI and the Circus World Museum.  The students are also aware that this Thursday, May 12th, there is a circus in Otumwa, IA.  Many have indicated that they are going to be there.

Very soon we will be acting out our own circus in the room and I will be recording it and hopefully in a couple weeks you will be able to check back on this blog and see our very own circus including the "Flying Finnegans", "Fearless Ferdinand" and the elephants.

First Grade Music

The first grade students have been discussing the use of music to help tell stories.  We have talked at great length about the music titled "Once Upon a Time Suite" that musically illustrates the story of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff".  We have taken turns being each of the goats as well as the troll.  Just like the kindergarten students, we will be acting this out and recording our play.  I will hopefully have the movies posted on the website for you to get a peak into our classroom.

A second project that we are working on has to do with the story "Peter and the Wolf".  We have spent several classes identifying the different instrument families as well as individual instruments.  Some of this discussion began with the story of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" because just like "Peter and the Wolf", some of the instruments represented specific characters in the story.  After identifying the instruments and themes, we listened to the story to hear how the instruments acted with each other in the music to illustrate the story.  Currently we are working to color finger puppets to help tell the story.

Second Grade Music

In Second grade, we have continued to discuss the idea of music telling a story just like we did in the Kindergarten class and First grade class.  The biggest difference is that we have taken it a step further.  We had started our discussion by "Going on a Lion Hunt" and discussing the different ways the music and sounds help to tell the story.  Next we revisited the pieces that the First grade classes are working on and then took it one step further.  We really paid close attention to the "Peter and the Wolf" example and discussed how not just instruments can represent the characters, but also specific musical themes.  After an in-depth discussion, we were able to listen to the story of the "Sorcerer's Apprentice".  We identified each instrument with it's particular character or characters, but especially each character and its musical theme.  We were able to do a worksheet that had several statements about the plot of the story, and put them in order based on the music.  We will be using those statements to create a book that we will illustrate ourselves as we begin to further understand the musical story.  Secondly, for fun, we have begun to color our own brooms and buckets to put on our castle background in the room and create our own "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene.

In the last few weeks of school we will be finishing these projects, as well as taking a final assessment to see how much we have grown in our rhythmic counting and identification.

Third Grade Music

After completing our concert in April, we have been able to relax a little.  We still have not taken time to watch the video of our concert, but we will soon.  We have returned to some of the music we were working on right before the concert and even have done a little dancing in class.  There are two songs in particular that we are doing that involve some type of movement.  "Four White Horses" involves a sort of clapping game that you do in groups of four.  If we keep the tempo slow, we can do this pretty well, but if we try to increase the speed, mass chaos kind of breaks out and everyone gets lost.  :)

The second song that we have is called "Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees".  This is a song that has words that don't seem to tell much of a story.  However, these words are actually the directions to a square dance.  We have worked one day on the dance, but many of the kids were smiling the whole time.  It was really great to see them try something so different and be open-minded enough to enjoy it.  I was extremely proud of the students for trying this!

Like the Second grade, we still have to complete our final assessment on rhythms.  That will have to wait till next week at the earliest though since today was our first performance of three for this week.  Today the 3rd and 4th grade students performed at the Fairgrounds for the Heritage Club.  Everyone sounded great and I think that the audience enjoyed our performance.  Two more performances left this week.

Fourth Grade Music

In the middle of our extra performances and trying to finish their final rhythm assessment, the fourth grade students have spent many classes lately working to learn to play their recorders.  We have not had the time for the recorders that I had intended to have from the beginning of the year, however, some of the students are working really hard and are working feverishly to get their belts.  Hopefully you hear your student at home working on their songs so they can pass as many belts before we run out of time.

We still have two performances during school hours this week of our Spring Concert material.  I know their performances are greatly appreciated in the public.  I am very proud of how well they are singing, and I see great benefits for these students in these extra performances.

Fifth Grade Music

All year we have looked at different composers each month.  The students are now beginning a computer project for the next couple weeks that involves these composers.  Glogster is a web 2.0 tool that allows students to create virtual online multimedia posters.  The students have the ability to add text boxes and change as well as rearrange the text in about anyway they can think.  They can also add pictures and illustrate them however they wish.  For composers, much of their work is about what you hear.  Glogs allow the students to add video and audio examples to help introduce their composers.  This is a fun tool for the students, and I hope to post some examples when they are done.

5th Grade Ensemble

The 5th Grade Ensemble has been working on three songs for the Spring Concert.  The concert will be on Thursday, May 19th at 7:00 PM at the Middle School.  The 5th grade students are on the concert first, and I do expect that when they are done singing, they will sit quietly and support the other groups on the concert.  After all, they will have the chance to be a part of those groups next year.  If there is a need for you to take your student early for specific reasons, please just see me and let me know.  It is a busy time and many families have very busy schedules.

The concert begins at 7:00 pm, please have your students come to the 5th Grade Music Room between 6:30 and 6:45 so that we can line up and be ready to take the stage at 7:00.  One final note that I have been asked to pass along is that there is a fee for the concert and school activity passes will no longer accepted for the Middle School concerts.  The cost at the door is minimal, but again, the activity passes will no longer be accepted at the Middle School Concerts.

Please have your students dress nicely and be ready to sing and have a great time.

One last note on the ensemble, after the concert is over, I am making plans to have them sing during school hours at Logan Apartments.  More information will be coming about this engagement.

Other Music News

Last night was the High School Vocal and Instrumental concert.  I was a great concert to end the year with.   The Music Awards Night that was scheduled for tomorrow night (Thursday, May 12) has been canceled for that night and there is some ongoing discussion about what the next steps will be.

The Middle School Choir students and Middle School Ensemble will be performing at the Middle School on Thursday, May 19th at 7:00.  Please remember that there is a minimal fee at the door and that school activity passes will no longer be accepted for the Middle School Music Programs.

Final Thoughts

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank everyone for your support of your students and our music program at all levels both instrumentally and vocally.  This has been a great year with several new things to try and I think we have had several successes because of these changes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Local Tour!!!

Today is the first performance of four this week for the students of Washington and Libertyville 3rd grades, 4th grades and 4th grade ensembles.

They will kick off the performances with a joint presentation for a luncheon at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds today at 12:45.  They will be performing the music from our spring concert that was so well received a short time ago.  They will not be doing the speaking parts, but they will be entertaining with the music.

On Wed, the Libertyville students will have two performances.  The first performance will be at the old hospital and will be a combined presentation with Washington again.  Then, after the conclusion of that performance, they will travel by themselves to perform at Sunnybrook on the West side of town.

Washington will be singing with Libertyville at 10:30 on Wednesday at the old hospital, then on Friday they will be performing themselves at Parkview at 10:00 am.

These performances are great for our students to be involved in and share their talents with many residents of Fairfield that might night have been able to come to the concerts.  They also will include relatives of many of our students, and I know they are looking forward to the performances.