Halloween is one of my favorite times in the music room! The kids really get creative in their efforts to make the "spookiest" versions of our Halloween songs and they really just seem to enjoy singing (which is the absolute best!). The activities were are doing provide time for solo singing, creative instrument playing, discussion of tonality and tone color and really just the opportunity to sing for the sake of singing. Hopefully your child has been enjoying our fall activities and you've heard some of our songs at home!
Welcome back to school!!! It has been a terrific two days meeting new students and saying hello to familiar faces! I am very much looking forward to the weeks ahead filled with music making!! This is the beginning of my 21st year not only in Baldwin-Whitehall but of my teaching career and quite honestly the time has flown by. I can hardly believe that my first students are working adults...one of the pharmacists at my pharmacy was once a student!! Several of my colleagues were once my students--I couldn't be more proud! However, how can I be THAT OLD?!?!!? Truly, working with the kids has been the greatest "fountain of youth." I don't really feel much older (with the exception of some creaking sounds in my knees :-) because the kids are always so excited to learn or share something new. Today was the first day of music for some of my students and I heard "I love this game--it's my favorite!" To see how excited my kindergarten students were to play shakers and the drums today...that's what it's all about. Seeing (and hearing) the joy that music brings to a whole new generation is truly an amazing gift. I can't thank you enough for the opportunity to work with your children, and I can't wait to see what the year has in store for us. The kids are always thinking of new ways to perform a piece or share a song that no two days are exactly alike and I often learn something new myself along the way. Please check back so that you, too, can hear and see some of the creations from music class. Here we go!!!
is hard to believe that the end of the school year is upon us! It feels like just yesterday we were handing out recorders, having our first choir rehearsal and singing Jingle Bells!
The kids have worked hard this year, and I am very proud of their efforts!
Kindergarten has learned the first 2 notes on our Solfa scale, So & Mi and can show you them using hand and body movements. They can identify all of their music opposites and have even started reading simple rhythmic patterns. They met the "Ta Monster" and his friend the "Ti-ti Monster" which helped to introduce the rhythmic elements of quarter and eighth notes. Most importantly, they had fun while learning all of these things. Hopefully they have come home singing for you or even shared a new favorite dance move!
First Grade continued they Solfa Scale study by reinforcing LA this year and learning a new note, DO. They love, love, love the games that go along with the DO songs, so we've played many, many rounds of Apple Tree & King's Land this year! They also can identify a quarter rest in rhythmic notation and tell you that it means one beat of silence. They can recognize a half note as a longer sound that gets two beats...and may tell you they get to show off their tattoos or fancy bracelets when they clap that one. They can also look at staff notation and decode line notes and space notes. This is a big deal for a first grader and is only the first steps to reading music.
Second grade worked extremely hard with their new Solfa Scale note, RE, this year. The kids can read it, write it, sing it in tune and even COMPOSED with it! They reviewed that half note notation and were able to use it in their RE compositions as well. We spend a good bit of time reinforcing that RE in all of our songs, games and in-class instrumental work because it sets a solid foundation for what is coming in 3rd grade...yes, RECORDERS!! :-)
Third grade started the year learning sixteenth notes (tika-tika) to add to their rhythmic understanding. We all know, however, the biggest part of the year for them was RECORDERS! All of the kids learned to play Hot Cross Buns and the majority completed Mary Had a Little Lamb as well. Several students moved on to learn The Closet Key and All Around the Buttercup and a few more kept working and learned Lucy Locket, Ode to Joy and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. The class favorite by far, however, was JAWS. Hopefully that will make an appearance at home during Shark Week this summer!! They learned a ton of new vocabulary related to music notation and have been practicing reading notes on the treble staff--the more they do this, the easier it will be!
Fourth Grade built upon their rhythm set to learn two new rhythms that are combinations. Yes, that means there was some math in music this year (there is always math in music but for the first time we really took the time to look at the fractions). The kids also continued their recorder work, each student working to earn the next bead for their lanyard. We had a Science of Sound unit this year as well, which I am happy to say was a huge hit for the kids (but maybe not you or their homeroom teachers--reed straws anyone?). I know they learned quite a bit and I think were sort of surprised that we could talk about science in music class.
Fifth grade also worked hard this year. They learned a new rhythm which is a two-beat syncopation (this rhythm appears ALL the time in music). To learn and practice this new rhythm they played several games, learned a new dance and performed on our classroom Orff instruments. The kids also had a recorder unit that allowed them to earn at least one last bead to add to their recorder lanyards. Finally, they created their own small-group percussion ensembles. This is always a favorite activity for me (and hopefully for them as well!). This activity really provides the opportunity for the kids to be creative while demonstrating an understanding of the basics of music (beat & rhythm). This year the groups were able to use Garage Band on the iPads if they chose to do so to incorporate technology into their creations. They worked really well together and came up with terrific performances they were then able to share with their classmates!
Our 5th Grade Choir was 50 members strong this year! They met BEFORE school on Wednesdays (talk about dedication) and performed 6 official concerts throughout the year. This year's group learned more music than I could have every imagined and I think if we were able to keep going would have just kept getting better. Every week they came to rehearsal they worked, taking the group and their singing seriously, which allowed them to really develop into an amazing group of singers. Every week they just got even better, even when I didn't think it was possible. I am immensely proud of this young group of singers and am grateful they were willing to come to school early once a week to rehearse!
Overall, this year was outstanding. This year completes my 20th year doing what I do and I am constantly surprised by the new ideas, thoughts and creations the kids can come up with. No year is ever the same as the one before (or really any of them!) and the kids continually impress with their hard work and willingness to learn. Not one year has gone by when I haven't also learned something new from my students. I am always hopeful that my students find a love of music during their time in my class. I know not everyone will become a professional musician, but EVERYONE has the ability to keep music as a part of their lives. Whether they attend concerts, join a local choir or community band, or just sing along to the radio, I hope that all of them will continue to keep the joy that music brings in their lives for many, many years to come!!
Well, the holidays are over and it is back to regular business in the music room! Most of our classes are doing a review of a rhythmic or melodic element they learned just before the holidays. Kids learn a great deal about music concepts through singing, games and playing instruments in class. They are focused on correct posture for singing, following directions, multi-tasking and learning to collaborate to create a performance. When they come home and say they played a game, in music class, please know it is so much more! Hopefully you are hearing songs being sung at home, talking about improvisation, line and space notes, and yes...the recorder being played!
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends!!! Please be sure to show off your recorder talents to visiting friends and family, too!!!
We will be wrapping up our recorder studies in 4th and 5th grades before Winter Break...jsut in time for 3rd grade to really get into it!!!!
Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels to those who are doing so!
Welcome back to school!!! We have one week gone already and I honestly have to say that it feels as though we've never left!
The kids have been working already--for the first time in 20 years we played instruments on the very first day. I think this was one of my better ideas--they were so excited!! I am hopeful that we can continue that excitement as the year goes on. Learning about music--how to create it, how to analyze it, how to perform it--is very important. However, nothing is more important than coming to love it, whatever role it may play in your life. Whether you play an instrument or just the radio, music plays some part in everyone's lives. I hope to help our kids find the joy that only music can bring to life...while learning along the way!
Welcome back to our music class! This time of year is always one of my favorite times in music class. We have many new songs, 3rd graders are really starting to get into recorder, 5th graders are starting DARE songs, 4th graders are finishing up their rhythm study and heading into the science of sound and 2nd graders are just about to begin their study of instruments of the orchestra. I love seeing the kids succeed in music--music truly is for everyone! It has been a great year filled with musical discovery and already these first few days back after break have been jam packed with learning. Please take a second to check out a specific grade level page to see more specifically what your child may be learning currently. I am hopeful that he or she can tell you a little bit about what they've done, and please know that some of this stuff is pretty difficult! I am really very proud of their work!!
Well, the Halloween celebrations are over and we are fully into fall--yea! The kids have been doing some creative work in class and I really couldn't be more proud of their efforts so far. I've added videos and pictures to all of the grade level pages so please if you have a minute go check them out!
As the season continues we will really get into creating and responding to music performances in the older grades. Third grade will begin its final prep for recorders, and hopefully they will make an appearance in time for some Hot Cross Buns music during winter break. It takes some time to get started with them, so while that may seem a long way off, it'll be here before you can sing "Jingle Bells." :-)
Mrs. Kraus teaches general music at McAnnulty and Whitehall Elementary Schools as well as directs the 5th Grade Choir at Whitehall.
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