Music Education at OLG

From the Piano Bench of Ms. Sager:

As the sun begins its NW hibernation, I soothe my perceived S.A.D. with the feeling of great excitement for the upcoming holidays! In that vein, the 4th/5th Chorus kicked off Halloween today with an impromptu lunchtime performance of “The Addams Family” — scary masks and all! We have several more impromptu lunchtime performances planned!

All classes have spent time learning about the Orchestra sections (strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion). We watched examples of cellos, flutes, and trombones and then color-coded the instruments with their section’s placement within the orchestra. We also watched a man make a clarinet out of a carrot! All classes also used color-coding to help understand the link between notes on a staff and notes on a piano. Black-and-white became rainbow-rific! I then challenged them to find the notes on the piano by remembering the repeating clusters of 2 and 3 black notes.

2nd-5th worked on rhythms and notes, completing 3/4, 4/4, and 6/4 measures by filling in the blanks with the correct note values. Music is MATH! PreS, PreK, K, and 1st drew their own Masterpiece of Notes on a treble clef. We then listened to what each individual’s song sounded like (an interesting way of composing music!).

Older grades have spent time learning about Western Music through the ages, starting with Monks and Gregorian Chant (Medieval) to Thomas Tallis (Renaissance) to Handel (Baroque) to Pachelbel (Classical) to Beethoven (Romantic) to Stravinsky (Modern). A fill-in-the-blank timeline was the challenge and we listened to Pentatonix, a talented a cappella group, sing their interpretation of music through the ages.

Younger classes are getting a taste of Halloween to come, as well. We’ve sung a song called “Skin and Bones” that uses rhythm sticks and needs actors: a little old lady, bones in the graveyard, and a scary closet monster for a surprise at the end. I learned that, when given their druthers, the little children like to be the Scare-ers and not the Scare-ees!

The 4th/5th Chorus sang beautifully at our first School Mass on 10/9/14. They are a talented bunch; I anticipate increased confidence and volume over time!

This is the first year I’ve brought out the recorders for the 4th graders. We had a learning session last week and I anticipate good things. Recorders act as a good stepping stone to joining band as a 5th grader.

We played xylophones for the first time last week. We learned a simple pattern, practiced it in rotating groups (we have only seven xylophones), and then played along with a cool jazz band recording. Things that make me very happy: one little girl ran up and gushed, “This is SO FUN!”

Auditions for the Northwest BoyChoir will take place Saturday, November 1st. The Northwest Boychoir is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization that has served the greater Puget Sound area for more than 40 years. The auditions are for boys in First to Fourth grades. I have flyers available and they are ready to schedule auditions now. More info is on their website.

Finally, after the Seahawks’ loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, I felt the need to have some fun with football. I projected a field on the wall and each class answered music questions to gain yardage for an ultimate Touchdown. I didn’t want to break any noise records, so penalties were given for loudness and bad sportsmanship. What great kids we have — I gave out almost no penalties! Go Hawks!