General Music- Irving School
My name is Tehra Hiolski and I teach general music to most of Irving School. Joining me this year is Michael Mayer who teaches three Kindergarten classes, Ms. Arroyo, Ms. Weigel and Ms. Ricchio. Music classes meet twice weekly for 33 minutes.
I believe that children learn best when they are active, involved learners so in our classes we move a lot, play instruments, sing songs and work on both reading and math through music activities.
I look forward to meeting all of you at our open house. Please stop by.
During the month of March we have been learning about Opera. On March 21 at 9:30 in the morning, Opera for the Young will come to Irving to perform Massenet's "CINDERELLA". Hopefully you've been hearing them sing some of the songs from the opera at home! They certainly have been singing them a lot here. I hear them singing on the playground, in the hallway, etc! We're also really lucky to have a student teacher, Ms. Mary Eisenhardt to work with us at this time. She is a trained singer so adds a lot to their experience. She is also friendly, hard working and very encouraging to all the students. I can tell by the smiles on their faces that they're enjoying both the opera and Ms. Eisenhardt. Safe travels to all over Spring Break!
February means Valentine songs and games. In the younger grades we've used these songs to work on: steady beat, beautiful singing, focusing our attention on stopping and starting, movement, sol-feg, reading rhythms, etc. I'm also trying to include at least one book per grade to read, create movement to, choose instruments to accompany the story. Music and literacy go hand in hand. When they read and respond to books it helps not only their reading, but prepares them for music reading. Beginning in Kindergarten they learn quarter notes, and eighth notes. By third grade we've added whole notes, half notes, sixteenth notes and all the related rests. Each grade can walk to a steady beat, then change their steps to whatever not value I request. This is amazing to watch. They have integrated the rhythms into their bodies-they FEEL it.
With the older kids we've been working on 6/8 as a meter. This is a new concept for them in which the eighth note now gets one count, (rather than the quarter note). They've been reading this rhythm, moving to it and playing a melody in 6/8 on the Orff instruments. I am so impressed with what they've accomplished! Once they have mastered the melody themselves, they help a classmate to learn it. I still believe the saying, "To really master something you must be able to teach it"! Now we will move onto a "dance" which we will be able to be our own accompaniment for.
Chorus is busy preparing four songs for the upcoming Choral Festival, held at the High School on April 10, 2013 at 7:00 PM. The permission slip has been sent out electronically to all chorus families, so please look for it and submit your permission. If you have any trouble, let me know!
In March.....stay tuned for the OPERA! This year it is Cinderella!
Back to school means two of my favorite things: watching our DVD of our Winter concerts, seeing both ourselves and the classes we didn't get the chance to watch, and singing Martin Luther King songs. Irving is a great school to talk about the legacy of MLK as I believe he would be impressed if he saw his dream for the future recognized in our community. There are so many wonderful Martin Luther King songs that I have enjoyed introducing them to the students and then reviewing the songs we learned in past years. Now we'll move back into our curriculum for the remainder of the month. Chorus families, watch for an electronic permission slip for the choral festival rehearsals. The choral festival is April 10 at the High School. Put it on your calendars!
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER NEWS
Yes, it is January. But during the months of November and December we were busy preparing our Winter Concerts so updating this page slipped my mind. I'd like to go back an recap the work we did by describing what concepts taught in each of the songs we performed.
Kindergarten- "Snowflakes", our first song, gave us a chance to use beautiful singing voices. We also talked about form- ABABA, with the A section being sung, and the B section improvised on the glockenspiels while the rest of us moved freely like snowflakes. Each week during the year we sang a song called "Listen to the Ducks" adding a new animal and a new rhythm instrument each week. For the concert they sang about 6 different animals playing 6 different instruments. They sang a Hanukkah song next, "Little Dreidl" where they sang the verse first, "thought" the words next while clapping on rhyming words (this is called audiation!), then sang another verse. A tambourine added an introduction and interlude between verses. "We Wish You Happy Holidays", an Irving tradition, was our final song. With Ms. Gullo's help, they signed the words as well as singing them.
First Grade- The first graders began their portion of the concert with "A La Puerta del Cielo", a Spanish lullaby. While learning this song we talked about the difference between shouting voices and gentle singing voices. They sang this song over and over while rocking a baby or stuffed animal (using their imagination) and as a result sang incredibly beautifully. I honestly don't think I've ever had a group of first graders sing so nicely so early in the year. We moved to "Minute Waltz" after that using movements we had learned while doing the "Move It" DVD earlier in the year. They tickled up and down their arms and legs coordinating their movements to the music. "Froggy Gets Dressed" closed out our program. Mr. Degman narrated the story and the students sang "Snow, Snow" with Orff accompaniment every time Froggy flopped out into the snow. They also played rhythm instruments for each article of clothing. They had to focus and concentrate to be ready to play or sing.
Second Grade- "Welcome to Our School" was our first song. We learned this at the beginning of the year as "Welcome BACK to School". At that time they had fun singing the song, but couldn't handle the accompaniment. By December they were ready! They did a great job on both the Orff instruments and playing the rhythm instruments as this cumulative song progressed through all sorts of body percussion, clapping, patting, stomping, etc. In the second grade we have three students who speak Polish at home so I decided to sing a Polish carol with them. They are such quick learners of a new language!! I especially loved the stories of students who sang it for a babysitter or neighbor and had them sing along. The song, "Przybiezeli do Betlejem", was sung first as a solo, then by the entire grade, then in English. We ended with two Turkey songs. In the first one they sang the entire song with movements, then phrase by phrase left the words out and just did the movements. The final song included movement, student created movement and accompaniment.
Third Grade- The third graders actually began the concert with an Entrance Song, "Spielstuke", which we called "Going up the Hill" as those were the words we learned to play it. All third graders learned this song early in the year and a small group came and practiced three lunch hours to perfect it. They did an awesome job! "Singing Bird" was the first song they sang. They accompanied themselves on the Orff instruments, created a movement section with scarves and sang with beautiful voices. For "O Hanukkah" several students made up movements for the verses. They did this entirely on their own. "Day of the Week Song" is from Ghana. We talked about how they celebrate not the date they are born, but the day of the week. Also, everyone can sing and everyone can dance. We're all unique. The students were a little self-conscious at first but gradually let go and had fun. Along with students playing tubanos and Orff instruments, eight students played xylophones on the side stage and improvised a question phrase and then an answer phrase during the dance portion of the song. This is a new skill and these students worked on their own with just a little guidance from me. Way to go!
Fourth Grade- The fourth graders sang, or actually spoke, "Riddle Ree" to begin their part of the concert. First in unison, then two parts, three parts, six parts, and finally in six parts with movements only....just "thinking" the words. This is difficult and especially tricky to keep together. But they did it! The spiritual, "Over My Head" was sung first, then played on recorder all accompanied by students on the instruments. Their recorder skills are quite good and for this song they needed to blow gently for it to sound good. This is tricky, but an important concept in playing the recorder. I've wanted to perform the "Hanukkah Song Nerli", for many years. But the accompaniment is difficult. This group of kids worked really hard to learn all the different parts and added a dance as well. I can't wait to see what they will be able to do as fifth graders!
Fifth Grade- A group of fifth graders began their program with "Ding Dong Diggidiggidong" played as the fourth graders entered. Again, all the students had the chance to learn this in class. They performed it in unison, two parts and even in eight parts. During the concert they rushed a little bit and we lost the effectiveness of the canon, but during our rehearsals they did it perfectly. "Greensleeves" was the first fifth grade song. Some band and orchestra students learned to play this on their instruments and joined us during the concert. They worked with me after school and on their own. Thanks to Mr. Shannon and Mr. Grecco for their help too. "Kwanzaa" was next and I think is going to become a fifth grade tradition. Besides giving us a chance to talk about Kwanzaa the song has so many opportunities for special parts. Every student in the fifth grade was able to play an instrument part or sing a solo in this concert! We ended the program with "White Christmas", a holiday favorite, inviting the audience to sing along during the final refrain. And it snowed lightly that morning! Will that be the only snow we'll see this year??
Most grades (not 5th) have begun each class with a movement piece. This is from a DVD called "Move It" which has short classical pieces and movement led on by several adults and children. I usually stand in the back and am able to watch how beautifully all your children move. Watch for one of these in our Winter Concert!
Kindergarten- We continue to work on steady beat, tapping it, clapping it, moving to it, as many ways as we can think of! We worked on the Carpenter's Hammer where they did a steady beat on sticks (quarter note), a longer beat on the guiro (half note) and their favorite, a really long note (whole note) on the gong! Each student had the chance to play this exciting instrument. We've also raked the leaves, rolled in them, you name it! We're also trying to identify if notes are high or low. And of course we end the month with Halloween songs and games. They sure can make spooky sounds with their voices!
First Grade- This month we began with a song about Autumn Leaves. They experienced meter and movement in 3, rather than our typical 2 or 4. We walked/ tapped to both the small beat (quarter note) and the big beat (dotted half note). Then we took many colored scarves and continued our movement. Spider songs were next. Spoken, sung, walking and crawling like spiders- you name it, we did it! Ask them about the dynamics we used. Now onto Halloween songs!
Second Grade- We worked on "Apple Tree" and included bouncing balls with a partner to continue exploring beat. We also learned several spoken sections and played them on rhythm instruments, putting the entire piece together with a broken bordun. They were great!! Following that, we learned a poem, "2, 4, 6, 8", then an ostinato (a repeated pattern) was added, and finally we played the poem on the wood instruments (xylophones) and the ostinato on the metals (metallophones and glockenspiels). We moved into the books (second grade is the first year there are music text books) and are doing the Halloween songs. Walking, moving with ties with a partner and passing beanbags around the circle to the beat while listening to "In the Hall of the Mountain King" rounded out our month.
Third Grade- The third graders worked really hard on an instrumental piece (which will begin our Winter Concert) called "Walking up the Hill". Each one of them had the chance to play the entire song for me and I am pleased to say that most of them mastered this difficult song. WOW! After this, we reviewed ta, (quarter note), ti-ti, (eighth notes) and the quarter rest. Each student is getting the opportunity to write a 4 beat pattern on the board after we all clap it. I am VERY proud of their reading and writing of rhythms! We also played a "telephone" game, where students tapped a rhythm on the back of their teammate and passed the rhythm along, with the last person writing it down. Now it's onto Halloween songs and exploring the third grade music book.
Fourth Grade- We're playing our recorders! They were eager to get started. They have reviewed B-A-G and learned a new note, C. "Left hand on top" is my constant reminder! They each have a book with recorder songs and worksheets which we have begun to use. The first song was just a review of BAG but now we're onto the second song. We will sing it, play an accompaniment to it as well as playing it on our recorders. They also reviewed syncopation and how to notate it.
Fifth Grade- The fifth graders have their own recorder books as well. Their songs are trickier both in rhythm and adding more notes. We're using our right hands now! They worked on an instrumental piece that will begin their concert in December. We all learned the accompaniment parts first, then worked on the melody with a partner, playing on the glockenspiel. Each student had the opportunity to play it for me. They learned this partly by copying or watching me and partly by ear. I am very proud of their hard work and willingness to keep on trying even when it's difficult. As a result, many students were able to play it for me.
Chorus- We're into regular chorus rehearsals now. If your child is in chorus and hasn't turned in a permission slip, I will need to get one soon! We're singing canons in two, three and four parts and working on a couple songs that will be for our December concert and also the District Choral Festival in April. One canon, "My Dog Calvin" (yes, my dog IS Calvin....I changed the words!) has a surprise in it. No one has figured it out yet, but by the day before Halloween they will all know the secret!
Kindergarten- We have been moving to the beat, singing familiar songs and getting acquainted with a few ORFF instruments. Ask your Kindergarteners what instrument they played a glissando on!!
First Grade- The first graders have also been moving to the beat around the room. We are working on musical concepts such as higher/lower, faster/slower, louder/softer. We used a Welcome Back song to review 12 different rhythm instruments. See how many they can name!
Second Grade- We jumped right into playing the tubanos (African drums) while reviewing reading rhythms. We added this to a "Welcome Back" song and played a variety of rhythm instruments as well. Next we moved onto the barred instruments, xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels reviewing mallet technique. Ask them what instruments they've played!
Third Grade- In Third Grade we began with the same Welcome Back song as in second grade. This was purely for me. I have always thought third graders would be more comfortable with the independent rhythms of the tubanos and singing, but never taught third grade to test my theory....until this year! They proved me right and have shown me how much they have grown as musicians in one year.
Third grade is special because they begin playing recorder, but not until the spring. Many of you have sent money in with the school supply list. Last January the cost went up to $6 but wasn't adjusted on our school supply list. If you sent in $5, please send me $1 more at your convenience. The way they are reading rhythms already, this promises to be a great year.
Fourth Grade- The fourth graders started off the year with a song "Listen" which was in a Rondo form, ABACADA. For the B,C,D sections they learned rhythms to play on the glockenspiels, xylophones and metallophones. They also accompanied themselves on the Bass Xylophone and Metallophone. All I can say is "WOW"! They are such independent musicians already. I am really looking forward to working with them this year.
Please ask your fourth grader if they have brought in their recorder yet. As soon as we get them all in ( or bought, $6), we will begin playing.
Fifth Grade- Fifth graders are big! And they are wonderful! We began with a welcome song with syncopation and body percussion and they showed me how competent they are. We also spoke a song "Out Goes the Rat" with different body percussion that we later performed on the barred instruments in the room. We began talking about chorus and how it is a different experience from general music. Any interested fourth and fifth graders may attend chorus which is focused on singing beautifully and even in parts.
The fifth graders need to bring in their recorders as soon as possible so we can start playing. Please remind them, or if they need to purchase another, send in $6. You can also pay on the District website.
Chorus- This is my first year teaching the chorus at Irving since 1986. Yikes! I want to have any interested students come and try it for the first two times, September 11 and 18. Then if they are still interested, they will bring home a letter with a permission slip attached. Please watch for it, sign it and return it.
The Chorus will perform three times this year, during the Winter Concerts, the District Choral Festival and the Irving Arts Fest.