Thursday, November 8, 2012

November Update

Well, it is almost the middle of November already and we just keep plugging along.  In just over a week we will have our Thanksgiving Break, and that means a break to recuperate if needed, and it means it is time for Mr. G to start to panic about the upcoming program.  No matter how much or little we have worked towards the program, it is always a time to panic for me.  Remember that the program is a K-2 Winter Program this year with help from the 4th Grade ensemble.  This will be held in the High School Auditorium on Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00 PM.  This will be a combined concert once again between Libertyville and Washington.  I appreciate everyone being willing to work together to create this combined concert, and I really feel it is great for the students in each building to have the chance to sing with their classmates in the other building.

We have been having some discussions about trying to webcast the concert again, however we are taking steps to improve on what we did last year.  It did work.....sort of...., but we are hoping to make it work a lot better this year.  I will keep you updated on that exciting project as we know more.

So now......What are we doing???


We have slowed down a little on the alphabet songs and other music so that we have time to work on our program music.  A lot of the music in the program this year uses the familiar tunes from different seasonal songs, but changes many of the words to fit this year's story.  This helps some of the students learn the songs faster, however, right now there is one song that has been a real challenge for kindergarten this year.  We keep working on it and improve a little each time though.  This is what is important.  Even though we are prepping for the program, we still have time to sing about a Very Fine Turkey.

First Grade

Just like the Kindergarten students, the First Grade students are working feverishly on music for our program.  We currently have been working on three songs, but will be adding more shortly.  After earning a bonus day, the students did get to enjoy part of a movie called "Tubby The Tuba" where Tubby begins a search for a melody that he can call his own and play.  He gets a little tired of playing Oom Pahs all of the time.  As they earn more bonus days with their great behavior, we will continue to watch a little more of the movie throughout the year.

Second Grade

The Second Grade students are also working hard to learn music for the Winter Program.  However, we are still working pretty hard at learning the notes of the Treble Cleff Staff.  There are a couple songs that we sing that have videos they like to watch that help reinforce the notes of the Treble Clef.  Watch them below, and I am sure your student will sing right along if you have them with you.

Every Good Boy Does Fine


I have also purchased some other materials that will help the students learn and understand this concept.  We have some worksheets that help us spell words using the notes of the staff, and a game called Note Name Battleship.  Mrs. Keller and I have worked lately to find some apps to use with the iPods that the school has purchased for classroom use.  We have also worked on the idea of setting up centers in our rooms so that the students would be split into small groups and could then rotate through the different stations working on all types of activities related to the notes of the treble clef.  However, this will probably not take place until after we are done with the program.

Third Grade

Third grade students have been working on learning the different types of notes and rests, as well as their values.  We have been working to put them into rhythms and being able to count and clap them correctly.  This was all in preparation for the big Rhythm Baseball Game that we will be playing.  We started by singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", and discussing the history of the song.  Did you know that the person who wrote the song had never been to a professional baseball game until after the song had been published?

We also read and listened to the poem "Casey at the Bat".  I read it to the class, then we listened to it being read by the famous voice of James Earl Jones.  This was really interesting because his voice was backed up by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.  Many of the students recognized his voice from movies such as Star Wars and The Sandlot.  We also discussed the idea that James Earl Jones has a problem with stuttering and that if you work hard and a positive attitude, quite often you can overcome problems that you might have.  Then we also read through the poem "Casey Twenty Years Later".

Finally we started our game of Rhythm Baseball.  We have two teams in each class....Turkey....and ....Stuffing.  The students tell me how many rhythm cards they would like to clap and count.  One card is a single, two is a double and so forth.  If they clap and count them correctly, they move that many bases.  If they are incorrect, the other team has a chance to do it correctly and make the out.  We will play for about 3 innings or so depending on the class.  It usually is a pretty fun time.

Fourth Grade

The fourth grade students are starting to wrap up our discussions about the different instrument families.  We have already talked about the Brass Family, Woodwind Family and the String Family.  We have talked about the characteristics that make Brass instruments, brass instruments, and Woodwind instruments, Woodwind instruments.  We have also identified individual instruments and listened to what each sounded like.  Recently we began discussing the Percussion family.  One video the students enjoyed demonstrated all of the characteristics of the String family.  Watch the video below.
Resonant Chamber

Since discussing the Percussion family, the students watched part of a video of the musical group STOMP.  We will also be watching a video in class that will demonstrate many different percussion instruments.  Click below to watch the video they will be seeing.

Pipe Dream

The recorders have been ordered and as of today have come in.  I will be picking them up today and getting ready to hand them out.  We will be starting the recorder work right after returning from Thanksgiving Break.  You can send your $2.00 now.  Several sent their money early, however, if you waited, please start sending your money now.  We will be doing Recorder Karate again this year.  Please encourage your student to bring their recorder and packet home to practice, however, please have them remember to have them bring them back so that we can work in class.  We will be doing testing in class, and having individual practice time in class.

Fourth Grade Ensemble

I have been really excited about the progress of the Fourth Grade Ensemble.  I think this is one of the strongest ensembles I have had at Libertyville.  They may be small, but they sound great.  Washington picks up the music really quickly, and both groups are excited to learn the music this year.  They are currently working on three songs for the K-2 Winter Program.  I know that it is a K-2 program, but it is a great venue for the ensemble students to perform at and get some recognition for their hard work.  In past years I have had these students help out by doing speaking parts for the program.  This year I am scaling back a little.  They might have some choreography for a couple of the K-2 songs, but there really aren't any lines to the program this year.  We will see how this goes.  It is definitely less stressful for the fourth grade students.

Below is a brief clip from today's ensemble rehearsal at Libertyville where they were rehearsing "Old Toy Trains".

Fifth Grade

This week we started a new song in class that several of the students recognized and seem to enjoy.  for those of you that are familiar with the Kingston Trio or the Beach Boys, we started singing "John G. Sails".  My plan with this song is to learn it well enough that we can begin singing harmony in class.  It would be tough at times to sing two parts in smaller classes, but I feel the fifth grade classes are up to the challenge.  We could also add instruments such as bongos, maracas and the triangle to play along with the song.  This always seems to be harder to perfect than I usually expect.  Yet, we will work hard and be able to accomplish it.

We are also working more on vocabulary and symbols in class too.  Just this week we started working on dynamics and how to build them from the basic letters of P, F and M.

The students have also earned their first bonus day and we have begun watch the Disney Musical "Newsies".  The classes will continue to earn notes for positive behavior, and when they earn enough for a second bonus day, we will continue with the next part of the movie.  By the end of the year, they should have been able to see the entire movie.  This movie tends to be a 5th grade favorite.

The fifth grade also continues to work to learn about some background information on various composers and their music.  Thus far we have covered the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.  We discuss odd things about their lives as well as the influences they had.  We listen to music they have written that still is popular today.  Even though most of the students don't listen to classical music on a regular basis, we listen to the music that is so popular that they have all heard them from ringtones to commercials.  The next composer we will study is Antonio Vivaldi.

5th Grade Ensemble

The ensemble has been working on two pieces currently and they are sounding awesome!  So many times they are a really uplifting part of my Wednesdays.  We are polishing "Touch The Sky" from the movie Brave, and a song titled "You Are The Light".  The second song takes the music to the Olympic Theme that everyone is so familiar with and adds inspirational text to that melody.  The students sing that song with an incredible amount of gusto.  It is really a joy to hear them each week on both of these songs.  We will hopefully be starting a third song shortly.  In the meantime, we have been contacted about possibly singing at a dinner in December.  It would be a night performance on a Friday night, and if we do it, it would be in conjunction with some of the other Middle School ensembles.  I will keep everyone updated as that gets closer as to whether or not we will be able to do that event.

8th Grade Choir

We had our first concert of the year last quarter and I was pretty pleased with how it went.  Sometimes this class just really amazes me.  They come into my room with some baggage (as we all have) and sometimes aren't the most focused or enthused, then they open their mouths and I can't say anything other than the fact that some days I am amazed.  We are currently working on five songs for our next concert which will be at the end of the quarter and is usually shortly after we get back in January from winter break.  One song in particular is from the movie soundtrack for "Amistad" and was written by John Williams.  We have discussed in class about the fact that you almost seem to be able to hear a little bit of "Star Wars" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" in the music.

Once a concert date is set, I will post it here to make you all aware.


Once again, I would like to thank all of you for the opportunity to work with your children and the support you show for them and the Elementary Music Department.  I hear lots of positive comments from parents and that is awesome.  Please keep checking back for updates as the year continues.

~Mr. G