March 12-16, 2012, The Week in a Nutshell, 1-5.


Lots going on in school this week – 2nd grade program rehearsals have begun, and grades 3, 4 and 5 are taking PSSA’s – the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in reading and math.  In April, 5th grade will take an additional writing test, and 4th an additional science test.  For me these tests require schedule changes, quiet classes, and in the case of the 4th graders, a review of the science of sound.  All of this has caused a certain amount of condensing of lessons, so, I’m going to try and make this a complete 1-5 “Nutshell”.

Soooooo….in chronological order:

Grade 1

First grade is still hammering away at mi-sol-la.  This week we read “So-Me and the Dance”, which includes “So-Me”, his brother, “La-Me”, and his sister “So-La-Me”.  “So-La-Me” is such a great  dancer that “She dances like Salome”. (All I tell them about that is that Salome was a very famous dancer).

Ring Around the Rosie” contains Sol-la-mi in the melody, so that is our chart for the week.

Ring Around the Rosie

I don’t tell the kids what it is until after we’ve worked on the rhythm and melody, because the song is so familiar that they wouldn’t have to read it if they knew what it was.  Once they do know we play a variation of the game.  First, we all sing the song and turn in a personal circle rather than joining hands and making a ring.  The second time we turn in circle while singing the song in our heads.  At least, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing.  A number of students always seem to fall down a full phrase too early, telling me that they aren’t really audiating the song.  So, we try it again, and this time I make them move their lips to the song in their heads, but still without a sound.  Finally, we repeat this exercise with our eyes closed, which helps eliminate to a degree the possibility that they’re “all falling down” just because someone else did.

That was at the beginning of the week.  The latter part of the week I began showing “Elmo’s Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf“.  Previously we read the story while listening to the music, identified the instruments, flollowed a listening map, and now, the video has been precisely timed for them to watch in the cafetorium while I set up the room for the 2nd grade program rehearsal, which happens immediately following their class.  I like the “Elmo” version because it contains a demonstration of each of the instruments before the story actually begins, and because it has more emphasis on the role of the conductor than I’ve found in other videos.  Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra are the musical performers.

Elmo’s Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf

I’ve used the “Sting” version once, but am not comfortable with the duck floating around with a beer bottle.

I’ve also used the Kirstie Alley/Lloyd Bridges video from time to time.  It’s a longer version and combines live action with animation.

Peter and the Wolf, Kirstie Alley and Lloyd Bridges

Of course, there is the time honored Disney version.  There’s a great pre-video clip of Walt Disney meeting with Prokofiev  to develop the cartoon.

Grade 2

Please see

Grade 3

My pattern with 3rd grade has been to spend the first half of class on new material and the second half testing.  It’s working out right now that the piece they are working on for their new assignment will be their next test.  That will change as we add new notes, and more and difficult pieces that require more practice.  This week, because they’re already spending 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day on state tests, we finished up testing on “G and A Blues” and practiced “Au Claire De La Lune”.  (These are found in the Recorder Resources set from MusicPlay).    The last 10 -15 minutes were spent playing “Recorder Master” which I project from my iPad, and which they love.

Grade 4

4th grade has been working on patterns of 8ths and 16ths.  We read the rhythm of “Skip to My Lou“, which is fairly simple and repetitive.

Skip to My Lou

Then I used “This Old Man” as a mystery tune.

This Old Man

As ususal, we practice rhythm and melody separately before trying to put them together.  The Gordon System uses, du ta day ta, du day ta  and du ta day as rhythm syllables.

It takes several tries reading melody and rhythm together, but once we are able to speed up a bit, light dawns and they recognize the song.

Grade 5

5th grade’s mystery tune is “The Bear Went over the Mountain”.  Same procedure as for 4th grade, except that they have a new concept to understand: the pick-up note.  Before we begin I explain that the pick-up is the last note of a phantom previous measure, and that the last measure has only 5 beats, because the 6th one is at the beginning of the song.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

Step one: rhythm.

Step two: melody.

Step three: Sing rhythm and melody together and identify.

As I was going over the curriculum flow chart to see what I’ve missed, I saw that terms and symbols have been lacking, so I put together a packet of MusicK-8 songs about……music.

Presto Largo, Vol. 15 #5

Forte Piano   Vol 13 #1

Crescendo/Decrescendo  Vol 16 #4

Legato Staccato   Vol 14 #1

Major Minor  Vol 17 #3

That should hold us for a few weeks.  :0)

Thanks, as always, for reading!



Jane Rivera, March 16, 2012, All Rights Reserved


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marianne
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 18:18:02

    I love the idea of referring to the pick-up as the last note of a phantom measure. Fantastic idea!


  2. Jane
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 18:39:12

    Thanks Marianne! :0)


  3. Karen
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 10:29:54

    I had a moment of reminiscing about when I had individual grades in my room…we’re a ‘multi-aged’ school now, so I’m struggling with the split (oops, I mean multi-aged) grades I see, especially grade 1 & 2. I feel bad that the grade 2’s are repeating what they learned last year (not necessarily a bad thing), but they’re not learning anything new really as the 1’s this year are pretty um, how to put it nicely(?)…well their minds seem a bit impenetrable at times! If I try to push forward, the grade 1’s are so obviously oblivious(!). Last year’s grade 6 class were the exact opposite – there may have been a chemical explosion in town in the intervening years…! (jk) Sorry this is so long…


    • Jane
      Mar 21, 2012 @ 17:18:51

      Is this a new arrangement this year, Karen, Or has it been going on for some time? Sooner or later you should be able to push forward, but transition years can be a real mess.


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