Dear Families,

The last third of our school year is now here.  As many of you know, our Spring Sing is this month on Wednesday, April 10th.  We will continue to prepare our songs to give you the best performance possible.  Besides the Spring Sing here is what we will be doing this month.

Kindergarten will be finishing up on their unit on beat.  In addition, we will be starting our unit on high and low this month.  We will read the words high and low in front of beat icons and chant a rhyme according to which word is displayed.  Children will also place visuals on the board representing the beat as they are chanting using their high or low voice.  For the writing portion of the unit students will record how one of their classmates chanted a rhyme by placing the words “high” or “low” in front of the beat chart. Within improvisation/composition we will perform a motion demonstrating the beat of a song using a high or low voice.  In addition, students will listen to a piece of music sung or played and identify if the piece is high or low.  Another musical skill development we will look at is part work.  This involves performing a steady beat to songs high in the air or low by our feet according to which voice is used.

First grade will be working on the quarter rest unit.  We are currently discussing when there is no sound lasting for one beat we call it a quarter rest.  A song students know, which has this concept is Hot Cross Buns.  When we sing songs containing sound we pat the beat on our legs.  When there isn’t a sound we pat the beat on our shoulders.  The students will also identify which beat has no sound.  In addition, we will draw what we heard within the song.  Students will be invited to share their representation with their classmates.  Furthermore, the songs we will sing that have rests we say “shh” to indicate where the rest is.   As we notate the rhythm in stick notation, we will learn how a quarter rest looks like a z in stick notation (musical notation without note heads and just stems).  For the writing component, students will place heartbeats over the rhythm of a song and will write the rhythm syllables on the board below the heartbeats.

Second grade will finish up their unit on re and start their unit on sixteenth notes.  We will discuss how when there are four even sounds on a beat we call this sixteenth notes and how we label it as ta-ka-di-mi.  This is part of the aural presentation, which is how I teach students a new concept.  It’s very much like learning a language.  Students will use a song they know to identify the rhythms and recognize there are sixteenth notes within the song.  We will also figure out what other songs we have learned have four sixteenth notes in a row.  While singing these songs we will keep the beat to help us identify which beat has four notes in a row.  After, students will be presented to the concept visually.  They will be able to see what the rhythm looks like.  Four sixteenth notes are connected together double beamed.

Third grade will finish their unit on two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note.  They will read and write rhythms using traditional notation of songs they have learned.  Students will label three sounds on a beat where the first two sounds are short and the third is long as ta-ka-di.  We will also figure out which beat(s) have this rhythm within the song.  After listening and identifying the ta-ka-di rhythms, students will read songs containing this rhythm.  Another activity we will be doing within this unit is dictating the rhythm heard from songs.  A second activity is having me clap a question phrase and chant rhythm syllables, an individual student will then choose from four patterns written on the board to use as an answering phrase, and the class will have to guess which one of the four patterns the student used.

Fourth grade has continued to make progress on their instruments.  We will continue to prepare our pieces for the concert in May.  In addition, we will continue learning theory concepts to help us not only perform well, but to be well-rounded musicians.  We have been discussing concepts such as bar lines.  This month I will discuss the importance of feeling the beat and how to feel it.  Feeling the beat is important to play rhythm correct and steadily, especially within an orchestra.  In addition, we will discuss the importance of the conductor and how a conductor is not just there to wave a stick.

Fifth grade will continue to advance as musicians through music theory concepts.  We will also sit in orchestra formation to prepare us for our concert in May, since we will be sitting in orchestra formation for the concert.  Sitting in orchestra formation will be a different experience as opposed to just sitting in rows like we are currently doing.  I think students will enjoy sitting in this formation more than how we are sitting now, because they will feel like they are in a real orchestra.  In addition, we are now at the point where we are fine tuning (no pun intended) certain areas within our pieces.  We have come a long way since the beginning of the year and I know we will continue to improve from now until our concert.

All the best,

Ms. Waldman