Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Busy, busy, busy and.........busy

Greetings! I had decided that I wanted to try to do monthly updates for everyone on my blog.  As you can see, I failed at that so far, so I have a little catching up to do.

The start of school brought warm temps, early outs, Homecoming Preps and lots of work in my music classrooms.  I am all about school spirit, so at the beginning of the year we learn and review the school song in ALL of my classes. I stress to the students that learning the school fight song is a source of pride in ourselves and our school.  I know that many of the students take this to heart because I am always excited by parents that stop me to tell me that their Kindergarten student knows all the words of the school song.  I even have parents tell me that I cause fights between their kids about who knows the words the best!!  That always makes me proud of my students.

In my Elementary classes, we start the year off with a game or two right at the beginning of the year in each class.  My goal for all of my students is that they enjoy music and that they want to come to class and to sing and dance each and everyday.  I hope that by instilling the idea of fun at an early age, it will propel them into upper level music classes with a positive drive.  I had taken some video from a couple of these classes and will hopefully get them edited and posted at some point.

During the month of September we also discuss the importance of Sept. 14, 1814.  Many people are not aware of this date, but your students will hopefully have a little extra knowledge of this date.  This is the date that Francis Scott Key penned the words to a poem that would later become our National Anthem.  It was a poem based on his night that he spent on a British ship as they bombed Ft. McHenry during the war of 1812.

On to specific grade levels.......


The kindergarten students have just been working on singing and having fun.  I have tried to pick fun songs that make them excited to come to music.  The songs we have been using still have educational impacts.  One of their favorites seems to be an echo song called "ABC Rock".  This just sings through the ABC's in more of a rock song type fashion.  Besides the School Song, this tends to be the most requested song among the students.  We are also sing in games that encourage the students to sing alone in front of the class and work on pitch matching.  This week we are beginning some Halloween songs, as well as beginning the preparations for our Winter Program.  So, if you have students coming home sing Christmas-type songs.....yep....we have to be prepared.  :)

First Grade

The first grade students are singing really well for the beginning of the year.  We have worked on songs and games that teach steady beat as well as working on singing by themselves in front of the class.  I am happy to announce that none of these students been injured singing alone in front of the class.  Sometimes they think they can't do this or that it will be a really negative situation.  However, through some of our games, it is a very low pressure situation and before long each student is singing alone.  It is really a neat thing to watch sometimes.  The first grade is also beginning some Halloween music this week and the music we are learning will be used to play some of the xylophones in the room too.  This is always exciting for the students.  Lastly, we have begun musical preparations for the Winter Concert that will be coming up in December.  If you think you hear Christmasy type music coming from their bedrooms, you might be right!

Second Grade

The second grade students have just completed learning a song that is a little scary for them at first, but in the end tends to be a highlight for the year.  They all learned a song that is sung in Japanese Elementary Schools about the coming of Spring.  They learned it easily enough in English, then we learned the entire song in Japanese.  We also added some movement to the song, and to really discuss their culture a little more, we talked about their spring festivals and folded origami swans.  We have also begun to learn the notes of the treble clef staff.  It is a focus for me this year to work hard to make sure all second grade students can identify the notes on the treble clef staff.  The second grade students will also be performing in the Winter Concert, so we have started working on music for that program.

Third Grade

The Third Grade students have been singing a large variety of songs from a rap about the food at the supermarket to Rockin' Robin.  A large emphasis for the Third Grade is always to learn and understand counting rhythms.  We start by identifying the notes and rests.  Next we start with some easy games of Rhythm Tic-Tac-Toe, and then we continue with a discussion about baseball, songs and poems about baseball, and finally ending that unit with a game of Rhythm Baseball.  Just around the corner is when we begin the baseball discussions.  We usually use flash cards on the board for Tic-Tac-Toe, but this year we are using a Mimio unit that was purchased by the parent groups in each of the buildings I am in.  When we use the Mimio, the students become a more interactive part in the activities I can present with the new unit.  It really is awesome and I want to thank my parent groups for that purchase!

Fourth Grade

The Fourth Grade students have been working almost exclusively on the instrument families.  We have discussed the individual characteristics that separate the individual instruments into families.  We have also been listening to recordings of each of the instruments for identification purposes.  Once we finish the instrument families, we should be just about ready to start our recorder unit.  We will again be using the "Recorder Karate" book.  The students begin by learning three notes.  These notes will get them through the first two songs or so.  With each song they successfully test out of, they receive a colored belt.  The goal is to get through all nine songs and earn their Black Belt.  I have sent home notes to be returned so that I know how many recorders to order.  Almost all of them have been returned.  The recorders will be ordered soon, however, be aware that they do not come with ear plugs for the parents.  :)

Fifth Grade

In Fifth Grade, the students have their first chance to join band.  We try to cover as much of the notes of the staff and rhythm counting prior to fifth grade as we can.  However, some of that information seems to fall into some pretty deep mental cracks.  It is there, but hard to find.  For this reason, we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year reviewing musical symbols, notes and rhythms.  We have been working on that and playing a matching game with the new Mimio unit that was purchased by the parent groups in the three buildings I am in.  Besides reviewing the music basics to help them get a strong base in band, we have also been singing several songs just to keep the interest going there also.  We have song some songs with history to them and some purely for fun.  We also discuss several of the great composers throughout the year.  We got a late start on them, but we will catch up soon.  Usually one composer every month is covered.  We started with JS Bach last week.  We will be covering a new composer next week.  Towards the end of the year, we will be doing a computer project about these composers.

Fifth Grade Ensemble

The Fifth Grade students have a chance to voluntarily join the Fifth Grade Ensemble.  We have already begun rehearsals every Wednesday afternoons during the school day.  It isn't too late to join.  I have sent home permission slips for parents to sign, just so that I know you are aware that your student is interested in joining.  The ensemble sings on the MS concert in early January and again on the concert in May.  We also try to visit one of the senior residences in town each year towards the end of the year.

Fourth Grade Ensemble

The Fourth Grade Ensembles at Libertyville and Washington are in full swing.  They recently sang the Star-Spangled Banner at the last home volleyball game at the High School.  I was very proud of how they did and very pleased with the turn out considering there was some miscommunication that took place and several people ended up with very short notice.  As far as singing engagements for the Fourth Grade Ensemble, they will be helping with some songs at the K-2 Winter Program on Tuesday, December 18th at the High School Auditorium.  The concert will begin at 7:00 PM.  I will be sending notes home at a later time with more information on that performance.

8th Grade Choir

Last night was our first concert of the semester.  I felt that our students were well prepared, behaved well in their seats waiting for their turn, and then performed well on stage.  We will be watching the video of the concert and critiquing ourselves in class.  This week we will already be starting the music for our next concert.  The date is not set yet, but it has been shortly after we return from the Winter Break.  There will be more information to follow as it develops.

One final note to highlight!!!!

The students in grades K-2 and the Fourth Grade Ensemble will be presenting their Winter Concert at the High School Auditorium on Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00 PM.  More information will be sent home at a later time.  I just wanted to make sure everyone was notified early.  The concert should be less than an hour in length.  Come on out the the show that night and enjoy their hard work.

Thank you all for your support.....I enjoy working with each of your students.

~Mr. G


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