Kindergarten – We played many games this quarter, which required students to sing by themselves, and I enjoyed hearing each student’s progress, especially with singing in their head voices. We sang songs of spring, bumblebees, sunshine, cuckoo birds, bluebirds, and robins. We read pre-rhythm cards that showed short and long sounds, learned some new folk dance steps, sang some sailing songs, and played drums (including an ocean drum). We had a week of frog songs and reviewed many songs that we learned throughout the year. I am excited about how beautifully they sing, and I can’t wait for next year!
1st grade – We continued to read many rhythms this quarter, reading pitches (so-mi-la) on lines and spaces with those rhythms. We sang several songs in Spanish, played trains with “Little Red Caboose,” and learned to match the beat even when the tempo changed. (Ask your students to recite “Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.”) We listened to a variety of instrumental works, learning about the percussion and woodwind families, and also listened to music from Thailand and Bali. We worked on playing in ensemble on xylophones and various percussion instruments, listening closely to others in the room to stay together. 1st graders are a talented bunch, and it has been a pleasure to teach them this year!
2nd – Fourth quarter saw us reviewing all of the rhythms we have learned, and we focused quite a bit on songs that use mi-re-do. Many, many songs in our culture use these three notes, so it forms a great foundation for educating the musical mind. As musicians, we often work on inner hearing of musical sounds, and not just the reading of those sounds, because if we can’t hear them in our heads, we won’t be able to reproduce them when we see them written. So I chose many songs this quarter that worked on these pitches, but of course, we focused on having fun too! We sang several rounds, including “Are You Sleeping” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” as well as many other songs just for the joy of singing. The biggest rhythm element that we learned was why we need time signatures and how bar lines organize the music into sets of beats. Finally, we learned to differentiate the timbre between percussion and strings. Way to go, 2nd graders!
3rd grade – Oh my goodness! I wish you could have heard these talented singers creating beautiful harmony this quarter. We sang songs such as, “Scotland’s Burning,” which worked on low so and singing in a round. They could sing their songs in harmony, stay in tune and on the beat with each other. Several times this quarter I was covered in goosebumps from the sheer beauty of their voices. And more importantly, they could hear how special it was too. We also worked on how time signatures work, and began to memorize the name of notes in the treble clef. We played xylophones, drums, and learned several folk dances. I am so impressed with their work ethic – fourth grade will be a blast!
4th and 5th grade – We began this quarter exploring instruments and reviewing instrument families. We held a petting zoo, where 5th graders were allowed to try playing a violin, cello, trumpet, clarinet, and baritone. We made a lot of noise between bowing, bleating, and laughing at our efforts. But we were fully engaged in the process, and I hope it helped some of your students decide what instrument to pursue next year.
4th and 5th ended the year with guitars, spending a full month learning to play some chords. 5th graders also learned a few guitar melodies, but honestly, one does not master the guitar in one month. I hope that some of your students will be inspired to continue to learn and play.
As the 5th graders move on to middle school, their musical experiences will become more formal, as you can’t really folk dance in a band room. But I hope that they leave Kessler with a true love for music, and will desire to keep music in their lives. Thank you for the opportunity to teach your children!