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5th grade music in September

Written by Rachel Grove. Posted in 5th Grade Music, ES Music

The 5th graders are off to a running start in the music room! We have started this year with some review, but it didn’t take long to get ¨caught¨ up, and they quickly showed me they were ready for more.

We reviewed our mallet and barred instrument technique with a poem in AB form called ¨Out Goes the Rat¨. The poem alternated between speaking the words, and improvising the rhythm of the words on the instruments.

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The grade song they have started with is Viva La Musica, which we have used to sing in a round and learn a new rhythm this year.

The rhythm that was preseented to them and we have since been practicing, is a dotted quarter note. They understand that a dot adds length to the note, making a half note (2 beats) into a dotted half note (3 beats), and a quarter note (1 beat) into a dotted quarter note (1.5 beats). We have incorporated this rhythm into a variety of activities . They put the rhythm in their bodies with a movement song titled, ¨Good Afternoon¨, a circle dance called ¨John Kanakanaka¨, and with an activity using the theme from the ¨Pink Panther¨.

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With the Pink Panther, students first learned a rhythm to accompany the song using body percussion. It fits with the theme perfectly using the form ABCA. The next week, we transferred it from body percussion to movement around the room with partners. The students even got to create their own rhythm for section C’s rhythm. It was fun to witness the creativity and unique ideas from each set of partners. You can ask your child to perform the rhythm from the Pink Panther Theme for you with the music (you can find it here) , using body percussion, and then ask them to show you what movement they created with their partner for section C.

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Additionally, we have labeled two new terms related to pitch – ¨Half Step¨ and ¨Whole Step.¨ This helps students understand the relationship between pitches, and they now know that there are two half steps in our diatonic scale, between mi and fa, and ti and do. No matter where Do is, this is always the same. This prepares students to understand things like Key Signatures and Chords, which we will not cover in music class, but any student who continues to study music beyond 5th grade will.

As you can see, we have already introduced a few new concepts, taking the 5th graders to a new level of musicianship!  They will continue practice these concepts all throughout the year to develop a deep understanding of them.


4th Music in September

Written by Rachel Grove. Posted in 4th Grade Music, ES Music

We are just a few weeks into school, and the fourth grade musicians are already growing leaps and bounds! We started with a song that reviews the last new pitch they learned last year, which was Low Sol. We used the song ¨Scotland’s Burning¨ to review singing both with lyrics and with handsigns and solfege syllables. Once students remembered the melody and solfege, we used it to review singing in a round, another concept that is new to them and is really strengthening their musical independence.

We are transferring the solfege syllables that we are learning into absolute pitch names, using movable Do. For example, one of our grade songs has been ¨Are You Sleeping?¨. This song uses a pitch they added last Spring, Fa, as well as the other pitches they already knew, DRMSL. We first learned the song on solfege with our hand signs, and a few classes later, added the words. A couple of classes later, we chose ¨C¨ to be Do, and labeled each of the notes on the song on the xylophone visual. We then transferred this to the barred instruments, and played the song using each of the different types of instruments we know. This took great coordination and concentration from the 4th graders! I was so proud of them, as each of them was working hard to remember which notes their instrument played, both on solfege and on letter names!

They have also been working on identifying the differences between the barred instruments. We learned a poem to help us learn the different characteristics of the xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels, and then got to improvise playing each group of instruments to the rhythm of the poem to hear the difference in sound.




3rd Music in September

Written by Rachel Grove. Posted in 3rd Grade Music, ES Music

Third grade music’s grade song in September has been “Bonjour, Mes Amis”. Students have learned three verses to this song in French, which is preparing them to learn  the new pitch low Sol this year.

Our lessons this year have been reviewing AB form, as well as transferring the solfege pitches we know (Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La) to absolute pitch names (C,D,E,F,G,A,B). We have been doing some ear training activities to really memorize the intervals between the pitches.

We have reviewed the quarter note and half note, and are preparing to add the whole note this year. We did an activity/game, in which we put the different pulses into our hands, then feet, then moved our feet to the pulse of the song ¨Irish Jig Medley¨ around the room. I would hold up different notes, and the children had to change the pulse that they were keeping with their movement. Students are doing a great job of connecting “1” with a quarter note, “1-2” with a half note, and then “1-2-3-4” with a blank paper. The whole note is not being presented yet, as students must first have a collection of experiences with a new rhythm before the visual is presented. They have felt the pulse of a whole note now, and we will continue to sing a few songs with whole notes in them, then the concept will be soon be presented.

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We have played the barred instruments twice to give us a chance to review mallet and instrument technique. We learned a poem titled ¨Fuzzy Wuzzy¨, which was challenging because the instrument parts did not land on the same beats in each measure. But the third graders conquered the challenge! We also learned a short melody about the “Golden Rule” which allowed the students to find and play “LaSolMi” on the xylophones. This is the first time they have played the melody on the xylophones instead of playing only the steady beat. Their skills on the barred instruments are impressive, and I know they will continue to improve this year!

2nd Music in September

Written by Rachel Grove. Posted in 2nd Grade Music, ES Music

In second grade music, we have started each class with our current grade song, “Jump Jim Joe”, which gives us a wonderful opportunity to begin by singing and moving with each other, and then transition to our line spots to begin the lesson.

We have begun transferring the Solfege pitches that they already know from 1st grade (Sol, Mi, and La), onto letter names on the xylophone visual. We spent a lot of time last year cementing the concepts of the relationships between Sol and La (La is always one above Sol), and Sol and Mi (From Sol, you skip one down to find Mi). Now, we are transferring them into the letter names of the pitches (C,D,E,F,G,A,B). Students did a great job of looking at the xylophone visual, and being able to find the letter name of Mi or La from whatever I told them Sol was.

Other highlights of the last month have been reviewing our mallet technique on the barred instrument with a poem called, “One For the Money”. The students are so excited to get back onto the barred instruments and did a great job transferring the body percussion to playing instruments. We’ve also been using the song “Ha, Ha, This Away” to let students create their own unique way to keep the steady beat, and allow other students to follow them. We reviewed what kinds of motions show the steady beat, as opposed to motions that have no beat. We have revisited the folk song/game, “Charlie Over the Ocean”, this time the students quickly discovered that “high and low” were “sol and mi”. Their understanding of these pitches is solid, and shows me they are ready to add to their pitch set, which we will do this year.



1st Music in September

Written by Rachel Grove. Posted in 1st Grade Music, ES Music

The first graders have made a great transition from Kinder to 1st grade music. It is really wonderful to see them all again and be making music with them.

The songs and activities in our lessons have centered around reviewing concepts that were labeled in Kindergarten. We have especially focused on the last term we learned last year – the “steady beat”. Throughout kindergarten, we did activities in which the students were being prepared to understand the steady beat, but it was not until the end of the year that the term was presented. Now we are doing a variety of chants and songs that the students already knew last year, but now able to find and label the steady beat within them with movement, sight, and even following on a beat chart. It is so cool to see their minds grasping the idea, and to see each student developing an internal sense of steady beat.

We are also reviewing the repertoire of songs that were established in Kindergarten, as well as expanding it, currently learning songs that are preparing them for the first two pitches they will learn this year. Here is a visual of one chant that we have used in a variety of ways to practice keeping the steady beat.

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I know we will have a great year together again as we continue to sharpen the concepts learned in Kinder and then push on towards new material!

Kinder’s Introduction to Music Class

Written by Rachel Grove. Posted in ES Music, Kindergarten Music

It has been a wonderful first few weeks getting to know this new group of Kindergarteners. Since Kindergarten is the first year that the students have me as their music teacher, it is always fun to watch them walk into the music room wide-eyed, and begin to learn what our music class is like.

The beginning of Kindergarten music is all about establishing a foundation. The foundation that we are setting right now is what they will build on for many years! Research shows that it is until age 7 that students minds are forming their musical potential. It is like forming a clay pot right now, and after age 7 we begin to fill that pot with terminology and concrete ideas, but right now, I am working to make the pot as big as possible so that they have huge musical potential!

In our first few lessons, we have spent a good amount of time becoming comfortable and familiar with the music room and its procedures. As I have seen in the upper grades, once these are in place, our time in the music room can go incredibly smoothly. Since our room is a large space in which such a large variety of activities take place, it is so important to lay down these routines and expectations from the beginning. It is a new space to these students, and there are many new daily norms to learn, including our hello song, their line spots, scatter spots, story spots, circle spots, transitions, instrument care, line-up routine, and goodbye song! Whew! They have done an great job of adapting to these new things in this new room!

In the midst of learning these routines, we have had a lot of fun as we begin to make music together. We have been laying the foundation of steady beat, vocal exploration, and imaginative play. It will still be a while before we label any musical terms, as I must first build their repertoire of songs and experiences so those terms mean something. The songs, stories, song books and activities that we have been doing are paving the way to label these important elements.


Ms. Rachel