Both the music and choir classes are headed quickly toward the finish line! These students have worked very hard and grown so much as musicians! I am proud that we are approaching performances for both of them. I can barely wait for you to get to share in my joy as you see the amazing work they have completed. Check below for details!
Setting Our Design
The 5th grade classes are finally finished writing and composing for the pop opera performance. I am so pleased and impressed with their creativity, cooperation, leadership and work ethic. Our performance times are listed below. Please plan to attend! All performances are free and open to the public. They will be held in the lunchroom/auditorium of Oakwood. Each performance will run about 30 minutes with a 30 minute reset time before the next performance. Since this is a culmination of the last 8 weeks of classwork, this performance will be a major grade and a requirement. However, there are few assignments that are as much fun as this one!
Tuesday, November 28, 5:30pm- 2nd Period Wednesday, November 29, 5:30pm- 5th Period
Tuesday, November 28, 6:30pm- 6th Period Wednesday, November 29, 6:30pm- 7th Period
Ask Your Kiddo: What period do you have music? What is the name of your pop opera? What did you do to help it come to life? What have you enjoyed about the pop opera?
Winter is Coming
The 6th grade choir classes are heading toward the final performance of the semester! I don't think any of the students would have imagined they could learn as much as they have this semester. They have learned to breathe properly, stand and sit properly, form correct vowels, sing a major scale on solfege syllables with hand signs, read and perform written rhythms and pitches! An incredible feat for any student, but an amazing accomplishment for 6th graders. They have a strong foundation to build on to be successful musicians for a lifetime!
Our Winter Concert will be held at Oakwood on Monday, December 18th, at 6:00pm. Our singing wildcats will be the only ensemble, but the performance will be jam-packed with a wintry good time! There will be performances from the whole ensemble, small groups, pairs/solos, antiphonal music, instrument accompanists, and of course... dancing! Mrs. Korczynski will provide piano accompaniment for us that evening. Our performance will be free and open to the public, so please bring your friends and family members to share in the fun! Plan to see us there!
Ask Your Kiddo: Are you planning on preparing a small group performance for the winter concert? What is your favorite part of choir? What do you find difficult about choir class? Can you sing a solfege scale for me with hand signs?
Hello week 8! It feels like we have learned so much in a very short amount of time!
A Rap Aria?!
The students have had lots of fun creating their different pop operas. All four of the 5th grade classes have created their own story, their own lyrics and some of their own music! It has been a lot of work, but they have gotten to flex their creative muscle. This week we talked about some of the elements of traditional opera, including the aria; which is a vocal solo. In our pop opera, we only have one vocal solo, but it is written in hip hop/rap style! We can't wait for you to see it!
Performance details are forthcoming!
Ask your kiddo: What has been your favorite part about composing? What do you find frustrating about composing?
Jammin' & Singin'
We've been dancing the week away! We are almost finished learning the parts and descant to "This Land is Your Land," Which we're learning for the Oakwood Veteran's Day Assembly! The students chose this song for performance and they are excited to share it with you and the student body. We have been discussing the meaning of the lyrics and how Woody Guthrie was inspired to write it. We even completed an assignment where the students wrote their own verse! See if they'll share it with you!
We have set our date for the Winter Concert; December 18th. It will be held at Oakwood and it will feature just our choir! It will be a musically grand time for the most wonderful time of the year! Make plans to join us!
Ask your kiddo: What time do you need to be at Oakwood for the Veteran's Day Assembly?
Week 7 had a few surprises for us! It was a short week, since there was no school on Monday, October 9th. The 5th grade general music students worked on developing a story for our upcoming Opera project! More details on that below. The 6th grade choir students worked on honing their skills using rhythm correctly while they sing. Read all about it below!
The fifth grade classes began developing a story for our new project: a Pop Opera! The students will develop a setting, plot and theme this week. They will get to work cooperatively in small groups to discuss and create their own stories. At the end of the week, they shared ideas with the whole class, and the class got to decide which idea would be produced into a full Pop Opera! This project will take between three to four weeks, which is a lot of work. The students will compose music, write lyrics, develop and create a set design, costumes and stage blocking! Don't worry, parents, friends and family will all be invited to the final performance. The students and I are so excited to see this project happen!
Ask your kiddo: What story did your class decide on for the pop opera? What is your group writing; music or a script? Which song are you writing?
The choir has been running into some issues while counting rhythms, so we took some time this week to review the basic rhythm concepts. We talked about the patterns found in the note symbols and how that relates to the actual note values. We've been adding note values so much, we're starting to confuse our half notes with our math problems! It has been fun taking some time to brush up and remind ourselves of the way these rhythms work. Our choir music has really benefited! Our singing has been much cleaner and precise this week! The big news this week has been... our risers are in! CSISD has provided brand new risers for Oakwood Choir, so our students can look great while they perform. We are very grateful to the CSISD board and administration for their generosity!
Ask your kiddo: Are you ready for the concert? Do you have the clothes you need to wear?
Week Six was a little choppy for us! Grade reports were released this week and there was some work still to get done! Our students did very well overall. They are gaining skills and abilities almost quicker than I can report! The general music classes worked on some extra credit opportunities and the ukulele! The choir classes worked on some extra credit opportunities and how to correctly evaluate choral music. Keep reading to know details of each!
The students have been preparing for a while now to play the ukulele! We've done research on Hawaii, looked up where the ukulele came from, listened to examples of great ukulele players; the whole deal! They were very excited to begin their unit on ukulele! As we began, I assessed that the students had already completed this unit in fourth grade. I was a bummed as they were to let them know that we will begin a new unit next week. Enjoy the video at the end of this entry of some students playing the ukulele in three different parts!
The students and I are excited to begin a two-week project where they write their own pop musical! They'll be composing music, writing lyrics, deciding on setting, plot and characters, even set design and costumes! The whole unit should be great fun while we learn about performance! Hopefully many of our students will want to participate in other theater and stage events in middle school and high school!
Ask your kiddo: How did you like the ukulele? Do you get nervous talking in front of people?
After our focus on self-evaluation last week, I assessed that a large number of the choir students do not accurately assess their progress. Most times, the reaction to their performance is something similar to "We sounded awful," or "It was perfect!" Of course, neither is usually true. The key to quick progress and lots of growth is knowing where the problem is and knowing what to do to fix it. I've been giving students lots of tools to improve their singing, but I realized they aren't sure when to use them! So this week, we listened to many examples of singing that varied in level of mastery. By watching other ensembles, the students are beginning to understand some common issues and how they effect a performance. They have renewed energy while they are working and preparing for their concert on October 23rd at AMCHS. Next week, we'll be evaluating ourselves and how well we perform!
When the students perform at the Veteran's Day Ceremony on November 10th, they will sing in two parts! Some students, who wish to, will audition to be a part of our descant group. After auditions, I'll choose a few students to sing the descant at the ceremony. A practice video for the audition is below, if your kiddo would like to practice on their own!
Ask your kiddo: What are some common mistakes you make in choir class? What do you do well in choir class?
Week 5 of our semester has been a triumph! The students have quite a bit of musical knowledge under their belt, so they are beginning to feel more successful. They are also able to perform more music and solve all kinds of musical problems. Read below to see details about what your kiddo learned this week!
Vocal Chords & Evaluation
This week the Oakwood Choir focused on performance (self) evaluation and knowing how our vocal chords work. We watched videos of actual vocal chords in movement (gross), and talked about how that affects what we do in the classroom. We also looked at our previous performances and evaluated what we did well and what we can work on. As a choir, we're working hard on staying focused and looking professional while we perform. The sound the choir gets as a full, focused ensemble is angelic and beautiful! I can barely wait for you to hear them perform! Next week, we'll start looking ahead to our second performance; Veteran's Day!
Ask your kiddo: What do you think of your vocal chords? How do you stay vocally healthy?
The Grand Staff
This week, the music classes talked about the mysterious five lines and four spaces music is written on; the staff! We learned who created it (Guido d'Arezzo), how to read it (from the bottom, like a ladder) and how to write on it! The students got to hang with Quaver for a bit, learning more about the universal language of music. The students even composed music in the 12-tone style of Arnold Schoenberg. The students got to make their own composition and hear it performed. I am so proud of their support of each other and their growing musical knowledge! One student asked to perform his piano competition piece, and the other students were so interested and supportive!
The students really seem excited about the things they are learning. In fact, they are still raving about their trip to China! They had such fun being there and studying the country, I may have to visit another place. The students are really looking forward to the unit on Ukulele! We have talked about how the instrument traveled to Hawaii and parts of the Hawaiian culture. We even listened to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." We start ukulele on Monday! All these weeks of preparation have helped us get ready to make some serious music.
Ask your kiddo: What's a shaka sign? Why is aloha important? How do I read a treble clef?
Week 4 of our school year was a success! There was much information to cover and the students rose to the challenge! I can almost hear their brains growing and becoming more efficient as the days pass. The fifth grade general music classes studied the voice and how to sing well. The choir classes focused on performance to get ready to sing in public! Read below for details!
The sixth graders have been working very hard to prepare for a public performance. Our bellringers this week were all about the brain and how it works. As our center of signals and information, our brain controls our ability to sing, too! We learned about myelin and how effective practice can increase the myelin in our brains to help us sing even better on a consistent basis. The students were amazed by how little they considered their brains and the way it functions during the school day. Hopefully, this can spark them to consider their brain function more often!
Our academic practice this week split students into smaller groups and prepared a video lesson for their peers on how to sing. The students chose their own song and integrated singing tips and tools they have learned. Many of them got to teach solfege, physical stretches, vowel structure and pitch accuracy! I was so impressed with their presentations that I decided they can do this activity again! We will repeat this activity at the end of the year to see how much they've grown as singers, performers and musicians. Next week will also focus on performance skills, but it will have the students beginning to self-evaluate and monitor their own progress. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it sure helps!
Ask your kiddo: All choir students should have performed for a parent/guardian this week. If they haven't, ask them why!
The fifth graders worked through some performance anxiety this week! Many people are afraid of singing in front of people. Usually, the proper way to sing is not taught; in schools, at home or in the community. My goal for the vocal unit was that the students could build a firm foundation for being comfortable with singing for a lifetime! In class, we learned about the different vocal ranges, various genres of vocal music and how to keep good vocal health! The students were wonderfully open-minded and learned so much! We got to sing together a lot! The Star-Spangled Banner, Texas O, Texas, some spirituals; even a song in Chinese!
I am so proud of the way the 5th grade is learning and participating in class. They are growing so much as musicians. I know they are eager to play some instruments, so our next unit will help prepare us for the ukulele. Next week's unit is on pitch and the way it changes. The following week will be playing the ukulele! Hopefully they have come home singing some this week!
Ask your kiddo: We visited China this week! Ask them about our field trip!
The third week was an eventful one! Both the music classes and the choir classes have been working hard to get performance concepts and skills learned. Check the sections below to see what your kiddos are learning in class.
Progress reports are due at the beginning of next week and will be to parents soon. Please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Gregory if you have any questions about grading policies or curriculum content.
The choir classes are finishing up "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." It is a partner song, which means it is actually two separate songs that are performed simultaneously. The two songs in this performance are "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and " All Night, All Day." Both songs have a similar chordal structure, which allows them to be performed at the same time. Partner songs (and canons) are a common way to introduce two-part singing to beginning choral students. The choir has been reading their full choral score, practicing their solfege syllables, and learning to sing in two parts.
The highlight of this week was a visit from Mr. Stout, the choir teacher at AMCMS! It is the hope that many of our students will continue with the choral program next year when they attend AMCMS. Mr. Stout and I are working cooperatively to make sure the Oakwood students are prepared to be successful; not just at our school, but next year at AMCMS and beyond. It was wonderful for the students to get a chance to meet Mr. Stout and have him conduct them for a bit. He got to listen to them sing and help them improve their sound! He even invited them to perform on a concert with the Middle School on October 16th! Thank you for coming to see us, Mr. Stout!
Ask your kiddo: See if your kiddo can sing "All Night, All Day" for you!
The general music classes had so much fun this week! Our lessons this week were focused on rhythm and dynamics, including syncopation. Naturally, our Quaver Music lessons used Reggae music to help demonstrate rhythm and syncopation. We got to learn about the geography of Jamaica, the characteristics of Reggae music, and the instrumentation used in Reggae. We learned about some of Reggae's famous composers and the people who created the steel drums. The students got to perform some Reggae music in class, differentiate Reggae music from Calypso music, and find out what kind of dreams Beethoven has on the beach. We ended our week with a couple rounds of Reggae limbo! It's really just regular limbo to Reggae music, but we had the most fun! The picture below shows one student making a clean pass under the Reggae rope!
The students have been cooperative, polite and kind this week! It has really made a fun, safe atmosphere where the kiddos can have a great time and learn a whole bunch. Next week, we'll be learning more about special rhythms and how to sing!
Ask your kiddo: See if your kiddo can name the important instruments in Reggae! There are seven!
Week 2 was another short week of school. It began with a holiday, so there was no school on Monday. Tuesday night was the Oakwood Open House! It was a grand time; lots of Oakwood family members on campus. Parents and students that got to visit the music classroom were greeted with celebratory music and information about choir and music courses. If you missed the Open House, you can see the slides of information below.
The 5th grade music classes are learning about meter! Wednesday was an introduction day. We learned the five rules used in music class and how to correctly play the instruments. We learned the definition of meter and how it is used in music. We also got to use instruments and conducting to feel and identify different meters. Thursday, we took time to setup our Quaver Music accounts in the computer lab. Parents, if you haven't gotten a chance to sign your student up for Quaver Music, you can send me written consent, and we will get it started at school. Once the students were setup with their Quaver Music accounts, we had a review of meter in groups of 2, 3 and 4. Friday was spent learning about 6/8 time and reviewing all the meter material we learned this week.
The 6th grade choir class is continuing the lessons on Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. On Wednesday, we played "Poison Echo." Ask your kiddo what the poison syllables are! We also learned how to read a choral score. Thursday was a day we got to really learn some swing rhythms. We also got to shape our phrases in dynamic contrast and tempo (rubato). Friday, we got to put it all together. We have learned many elements of singing and musicianship this week, and we've really only sung one piece of music! As a choir, we have learned our major and pentatonic scales and the Curwen hand signs that go with them. We practice them everyday during rehearsal. Hopefully we are practicing at home, too! Ms. Gregory is really focusing on our ensemble making clear, supported sound with good tone; no matter what we're singing! These are all skills we will get to use and practice in every song we sing this year. Building a strong musical foundation is the key to great singing!
Welcome to my music classroom blog!
The first week is almost finished! It has been a wonderful first week of music at Oakwood Intermediate. The official first day of classes was cancelled due to weather, so we had a short week.
The choir and music classes spent the first day of school (Tuesday) getting to know me and each other! We shared things about ourselves; our likes and dislikes. Classroom environment is really important for each student to feel safe and have fun. We talked about encouraging conversation and being good classmates. My main goal for the year is to make sure that my students are having fun while learning and feel safe in the classroom. We discussed many ways to make that happen!
We spent the next day of music and choir setting expectations. The students got to tell me what they wanted from me, and what they expected to learn during the class. I got to tell them what I expected of them and how they will be graded during the semester. It is very important to me that all students know the expectations for success in the classroom. Students feel safe and have fun when they know how to behave to keep them on track for great grades and no behavior issues. Learning happens best when students are confident!
Music classes began playing instruments today! There was a short rhythm review, then xylophones and metallophones of all registers were ringing out! The students used their devices to play virtually when they weren't performing. Sharing school issued devices was a positive experience for all! When one student didn't need to use it, it could be used by the next student. The music classes began to practice "Arctic Overture" using Quaver Music. All students received a letter to give to parents with instructions on how to sign up for a personal Quaver account. We will be using this account frequently in class for practice and assessment.
Choir classes continued working on breathing, vowels, and the major/pentatonic scales using solfege and Curwen hand signs. Choir classes have sounded wonderful! Their voices are blossoming quickly and they learn and retain information well. The students feel somewhat uncomfortable singing in front of other students, even though they are singing together. Parents, it would be wonderful to encourage your kid to sing for you and share what we're learning! The more encouragement and positive reinforcement they get in singing, the faster they will improve. Learning is a vulnerable process, especially when it comes to musical performance. I am confident that each student can be very successful with focus and some cheers from everyone!
Friday will be filled with music making! The music classes will continue to work on their Arctic Overture. The music students will all begin to receive their assessments in their folders to check weekly progress. The choir classes will continue working on vowel structure and tonality with solfege. They will even get to play a game called Poison Echo! If you ask them how to play, they'll be able to teach you too!
It has been a wonderful first week for music at Oakwood, and there is no doubt this semester will be stellar! I'm doing all I can to make sure learning is fun and the classroom is safe. Please check the important notes below for information! I hope to see you at our Oakwood Open House!
Music: All students will bring home a letter explaining how to sign up for a Quaver Music account. This is a kid-friendly, online, interactive program. There is no app that needs to be downloaded, and there is no fee. The content is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection. Quaver Music is used throughout the district, so some students may already have an account. Every student will need an account, however, and a parent email address is needed to complete the process. Students need a two-pocketed folder for music class and a pencil. That's all!
Discuss CHAMPS with your kid and make sure they know what is expected of them for success. If there are any questions, I would be happy to answer them!
Choir: Students will bring home a letter explaining how to sign up for a Quaver Music account. This is a kid-friendly, online, interactive program. There is no app that needs to be downloaded, and there is no fee. The content is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection. Quaver Music is used throughout the district, so some students may already have an account. Every student will need an account, however, and a parent email address is needed to complete the process. Students need a pencil and a black binder to hold their choir information. The binder should have nothing on the outside, since they may be used for performance.
If you would like to volunteer and help with our choir program, please come visit during Open House! We already have lots of talented students that are excited about having a choir in our building. I would like to offer lots of opportunities for them, but I'll need some parent help too!
Discuss CHAMPS with your kid and make sure they know what is expected of them for success. If there are any questions, I would be happy to answer them!