The hustle and bustle of the season, ongoing illnesses, and a horrible case of bronchitis have had me pretty occupied the past six weeks, so please forgive the gap in updates. During the gap, the students have been focused on singing skills, including breath support and proper child-voice technique. The upper grades have learned singing in parts, while the lower grades have been learning to use volume for effect with their voices. We were also able to reward over 3/4ths of the classes for good behavior. Any class that receives four check marks in a row for a great job in music earns reward time the next class meeting. The classes voted and we had a mixture of games, cartoons, and socializing.
The next semester will be much more challenging as the lower grades begin learning musical notation and the upper grades will be involved in several music appreciation units. Students will be learning about the families and instruments of the orchestra, orchestral music, opera, musical theatre, composers, art songs, and an exploration of several musical genres.
The semester will also bring more opportunities to play and compose on the classroom instruments as well as more folk dances and an exposure to a wide variety of musicians.
In the past, fourth graders have learned to play the recorders in music class. While this a rite of passage for so many elementary students, the same playing skills can be accomplished with our barred classroom instruments. I am sure many families are heaving a sigh of relief for escaping the infamous “Hot Cross Buns” played loudly and out of tune. :)
Periodic updates will continue, so please check back often. You will also see some reorganization of the website over the break to make information more easily accessible. As always, if you ever have questions or comments, please email me.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and break. See you in January!
Students in the 3rd and 4th grades will be bringing home letters this week concerning the new choir starting in January. Please read over this information and decide as a family whether auditioning and participating for the choir is something everyone can commit to for the spring semester.
Please visit the Sylvan Park Singers page for information about the upcoming auditions and to download the informational letter and audition consent form.
Deadline to return the Audition Consent Form - Tuesday, November 26
Auditions - Dec 2-6
Results from the auditions will be announced before the winter break.
Students will be chosen based on vocal maturity, behavior, and commitment.
The week following the Halloween festivities was the perfect opportunity to expose the upper grades to traditional American folk songs, folklore, and a discussion of the cultures originating in the Appalachian Mountains.
Some of America's greatest musical traditions come from the period in history when pioneers settled into the Appalachian Mountains giving up a further trip west. Settlers coming from European countries brought along their musical instruments and songs from their homelands and over generations the cultures we now associate with the Appalachian Mountains were created.
Grade 2 learned about play-parties of the early twentieth century and the popular songs "Shoo Fly" and "Skip to my Lou" that would have been favorites at these gatherings. They also viewed a short clip from the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis" where the characters throw a play-party and dance to "Skip to my Lou". Afterwards, each class learned a simplified version of the line dance accompanying the song.
Grade 3 also learned about play-party songs as well as the traditions of early settlers who would sing, dance, tell stories, and play games in the hours following their family dinner. The songs "Chicken on a Fence Post" and "Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees" were ones that gave these settlers opportunities to dance and laugh.
Grade 4 had a great discussion of the Appalachian Mountains and their rich cultures. As they are learning about the Revolutionary War in their homerooms, our discussion is a small preview of what's to come in their studies as the early settlers began moving west. After the December holiday, our songs will align with the fourth grade social studies' curriculum including favorites from the western expansion, the early railroads, and the Gold Rush. The song "Sourwood Mountain" gave students the opportunity to learn about fiddle songs from Appalachia. They also learned the song "The River" which is a more modern song with a folksy sound that was great for the vocal elements of tone painting, breath support, and phrasing.
The lower grades had fun with some traditional songs as well.
Kindergarten learned songs about going somewhere and discussed sequencing the story elements. The songs "Going on a Picnic" and "Going to the Zoo" were a special hit. They also learned another alphabet song called "ABC Blues" and experienced an easy blues-style melody. Following their songs, each class learned a circle-movement using the melody to "Seven Jumps".
First grade sang a new version of the classic camp song "Bingo" and learned the "Grizzly Bear" song and game. While each child had the opportunity to "sleep" like the bear and guess the other student who had woken them up, they were exposed to the effects of dynamics in music. The louder the music, the more likely we'd wake the bear.
Students in Grades 3 and 4 were told about the upcoming choir auditions. Those interested in auditioning took home informational letters and permission notes. Please visit the Sylvan Park Singers' page for more choir-related information.
The upcoming week will see a continuation of traditional and folk songs along with some reward time for those classes who had four successful music classes in a row.
- Mr. Burns
Wow! What a week of celebrating. From the fantastic trick-or-treating on Friday, October 25 to Halloween Day and November 1st, the students at Sylvan Park had a week filled with fun and merriment. I thoroughly enjoyed my first Fall Social at Sylvan Park and look forward to many more.
The music classes got in on the fun as well:
This quarter is also filled with many wonderful opportunities for holiday and seasonal lessons. If your child is not allowed to participate in any holiday themed songs or activities, regardless of what holiday, please make sure they are prepared to inform me so they can be given another fun, alternative lesson. We do not learn any sacred holiday music in music class. Halloween is a time to learn some wonderful pieces of classical music that have been used for "scary" movies or cartoons or were written for some degree of "spookiness". These are not Halloween-based and are safe for all children to learn. During November, we have several Native American songs and instrument activities available. For the December holidays, we will learn simple songs about the season of winter, but will not be learning and "Christmas", "Hanukah", or "Kwanza" songs but do have some secular holiday favorites we use to play along with rhythm sticks and jingle bells. Once again, if you prefer your child not participate in these holiday-themed lessons, please make sure you let me know.
Now that we have made it through the first quarter, it is time to start a choir at Sylvan Park Elementary. During the first week of November, information about the choir, including interview dates, will be sent home with all 3rd and 4th graders. The choir will be a great addition to the music program with the hope that it will continue to grow each year. Rehearsals will be one afternoon a week from 3:15-4:30 on either Monday or Wednesday to avoid conflicts with those participating in the Disney production. The limit at this time will be between 30-50 members and it will be a year-long commitment. More information will be made available as we near the first of November.
Lastly, a huge thanks to Jennifer Ohnstadt for her generous donation towards the Orff Instrument repairs.
Mr. Matthew L. Burns
Is it the end of the first quarter already? It's hard to believe that we have already been in school for nine weeks. I hope everyone enjoys the week off and gets some much needed rest.
Just a few updates and reminders going into the second quarter:
A few "heads-up" notifications:
Thank you for a great first quarter and I look forward to the next one here at SP.
*Students that are no allowed to participate in any holiday-themed lessons will be given alternatives for those days such as attending another related arts class or a specialized and fun activity separate from the lesson. Please notify me of any accommodations that need to be made.
The students in each grade have continued learning procedures and expectations and are improving. Thank you for all the family support.
Following the Fall Break, students will begin learning about the Orff instruments in our classroom. Carl Orff was a composer and writer in the early 20th century who developed a method for teaching music. Today, it's referred to simply as the "Orff Method". Music educators can attending certification training in this method. I have obtained my certification in Level One. The small xylophones and metallophones were developed by Mr. Orff for his method. They are central to his philosophy but it also includes lots of singing, moving, composing, and other instruments.
Unfortunately, some of our instruments have been damaged in the past and without funding from the district, five of them are not playable. I have included some of the parts for repairs on my Amazon classroom wishlist. The missing bars can only be purchased through authorized dealers, but you can donate funds for us to do so. If anyone would like to help us obtain these parts, it would be a huge help. All of these items can be found on the "Classroom Needs" page.
Each grade level will get to utilize the instruments throughout the year at various levels depending on their development stage. They are very fun for the students and they get ample opportunities to create and compose their own melodies.
For the Fourth Grade, these instruments will be used to fulfill the "pitched instrument" requirement for the music curriculum. At this time, we do not plan to learn the Recorder.
Also, for third and fourth grades, I will be exploring the option of adding an after-school choral program. I have been a choral director my whole career at all levels and the programs are valuable to the overall music education for those participating students. If we have enough interest, the choir will likely be available only to those students not participating in the Disney musical as rehearsals for both are valuable. However, I will work with the Disney committee to hopefully develop a schedule that can work for all. This is just at an exploratory stage right now.
Thank you for your support!
Greetings Sylvan Park Families! We have now been in school for almost 6 weeks. Time is moving on. Too bad this hot weather isn't moving too. Since redesigning the website I will be updating everyone on what the music classes have been learning since the beginning of the school year.
For the first six weeks each grade level has been working on the same basic skills for music class. We have spent a lot of time learning the class rules, procedures, and expectations. We have learned and practiced them each class meeting and are getting better each time. Kindergarten is taking a little longer to get the hang of things as expected, but they've come a long way since the first week already.
In addition to learning various songs for each grade level, all classes have been focusing on one of the most important musical skills, listening. This skill is essential but is also the weakest one among today's generation. Hearing and Listening are actually two very different concepts. We plan to expand on these concepts and continue learning the skill of listening throughout the whole year.
Thank you all for welcoming me to Sylvan Park so warmly. I am looking forward to the rest of the year.