Well, we are a month into our classes and hopefully you are hearing lots of singing at home!! All of our classes have spent time learning new songs, playing instruments, showing off some dance moves and playing music games. I am so excited to be able to share the beginning of your child's musical experiences with them--it is absolutely amazing to see how excited they get by music!!! Please come back to read more about music classes throughout the year!!!
Well, it has been quite some time since I wrote a new post and I have to say it feels GREAT to share some of the terrific things our McAnnulty & Whitehall kids have been doing in music class!!
Our kindergarten students have been focusing high and low sounds which is a little trickier than it sounds! Soon they will meet their first notes on Solfa Street, So & Mi! So exciting! It seems to be their absolute most favorite activity is playing ANY type of instrument!
Second graders at WES have been busy composing and arranging rhythms including the HALF NOTE! To wrap up this rotation they will create their own compositions using the xylophones and them perform them for the class if they choose to do so! So fun! They've also started learning about the instruments of the orchestra beginning with the PERCUSSION family. As the year continues they will learn about the other instrument families and how they work!
Third graders have FINALLY learned how to read notes on the treble staff. This is a HUGE part of the 3rd grade music and they are really terrific at decoding the different notes. As the year continues we will practice this skill by learning to play some songs on the xylophones!
Fourth graders spent the winter months learning about Acoustics, the science of sound! The learned lots of vocabulary terms including frequency, amplitude and timbre. The can tell you about sound moving at different rates through different mediums and could tell you about a specific sound just by looking at a sound wave. They have become beginner acoustical scientists!
Fifth grade has had probably the best time so far this winter. Ms. Ross, our student teacher from Duquesne University, created an entire UKULELE unit for our students. Whitehall Elementary was fortunate to receive a grant from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA District 1) and was able to purchase a set of 10 ukuleles for our students to use in class. Ms. Ross taught them about the ukulele itself and then taught them several chords. The kids have become proficient at performing these chords and switching back and forth between two of them to accompany a song from earlier in the year, Mango Walk. It has been wonderful to see the excitement this new instrument and unit of study has brought to our 5th grade music classes!
Lastly, as I mentioned, we were fortunate to have Ms. Madison Ross, a senior in the Music Education program at Duquesne University, complete her elementary general music student teaching experience with us. Her final day is actually today, February, but we will welcome her classmate, Ms. Sierra Hermann on Monday as she will also complete her elementary general music student teaching experience with us. We wish Ms. Ross all the best as she starts her second (and final) placement and know she will do well! We can't wait to welcome Ms. Hermann to the BW Music family!
Thank you to all of you who worked so hard in our virtual music room these last few months! I know it wasn't even remotely close to what we'd do in our real music room, but I hoped you had some fun with the different activities.
I am very much looking forward to seeing you all again--until then, have a fantastic summer break!!!
Well, the holiday season is over, our concerts are finished and it's time to relax...just kidding!! We have lots of activities happening in the music room to keep us going through the winter months!
4th and 5th grades are wrapping up all of their recorder activities. They've worked really hard and I am so proud of all they have accomplished! So many of the kids decided to really challenge themselves and learn more than one new song this year--so awesome!! We've talked about why we learn to play the recorder, and I get a lot of answers about practicing reading notes, learning to read notes, to prepare them for another instrument should they choose to play later on, etc. All of these answers are terrific and true, but really, learning these songs hopefully teaches the kids perseverance--it isn't easy in the beginning! I've watched many of them push through until they could play their song and the excitement when they finish is amazing. Recorders also teach responsibility and teamwork--you'd be surprised how many of them want to help other students. It really has been awesome to watch!
Our fifth graders, however, must move on to practice our DARE songs for graduation in February. What a special day for them! We are also going to review some of the rhythm work we started earlier in the year before moving on to percussion ensembles!
Our fourth graders are also jumping right back into to rhythm review before they start the Science of Sound unit. This unit is so much fun, and comes complete with some experiments! I am hopeful the kids will have time to create their own instruments as well!
Third grade is continuing their recorder work--we are SO ready to start Hot Cross Buns!!! They are so excited and honestly are doing a fantastic job!
Second grade is just about to add one more note to their Solfa Scale...RE. They can sing it, find it in a pattern and write it in a pattern with a little help. Soon we will try some partner composing and use technology to allow the kids to hear their work!
First grade is learning LA officially this week...their third note on the Solfa Scale. We have a great time doing this because we have some great games with our LA songs! They are also practicing distinguishing between line and space notes in music notation--no small feat for such young musicians! Soon we will also add DO to the Solfa Scale with more new music and some instruments! It's a busy season ahead for them!
Kindergarten is almost ready to learn the first two notes of their Solfa Scale, SO & MI. These are the foundation of all the rest of our melodic work in elementary school so we want to take our time and get it right!! We've had LOTS of solo singing in class (in 1st grade, too!) and are just about ready to start some notation reading. So exciting! They love reading music like the "big kids."
So, no relaxing in the music room! The kids are terrific workers and are becoming really great musicians! I am very much looking forward to the months ahead!
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!
Mrs. Kraus teaches general music at McAnnulty and Whitehall Elementary Schools.
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