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!