Friday, September 25, 2015


Well, teaching music at SK gets more fun every week.  We had a great time composing, practicing and playing music.  Here's the basic rundown by class:

Ks - Having already written a wonderful theme song, we focused this week on new instrumental skills.  We danced, sang, and learned two songs  on piano, guitar, bass and drums.  Today we played "The Animal Song" which is only partially composed, but the kids took care of the rest.  We also got to pretend to be animals (I was an excellent Snake).

Elaine's Class - We got through our first "Whole Song' this week following our standard format: Sing the song and dance, read the music, practice the ukulele part, then the piano, then the drums and then split up and play as a band with kids playing every instrument.  We will follow this format for many songs throughout the year.  

Mrs. Carpenter's Class - We finally wrote out theme song!!!!!!!!! Yay.  We have been excelling all year working individually and following directions musically and awesomely (yes, I know that's not a word, but it should be) but struggling to be creative and collaborative.  Although it was just a little bit like pulling teeth, we worked together and wrote an amazing song.  We are all really proud and can't wait to learn to play it.

Team Spencer - This week marked our first composition exercise which yielded incredible melodies and great excitement, as well as our first small group collaboration which went very well.  We are working on a repertoire of songs that everyone can play on every instrument, which allows us to play and perform together all the time.

Chris' Class - After writing a very difficult theme song, we worked on acquiring the instrumental skills necessary to play the song.  It was amazing to watch the kids help each other learn.  This is a tough song with so many musical lessons in it, we are going to take full advantage of it.

Jason's Class - wrote a very creepy theme song, you'll have to hear it.  I don't know what else to say.  

Sam's Class - Rocked their first composition assignment, composing by spelling words with the letters that make up the notes and then adding rhythms, form and creativity.  Beautiful work.

Karl's Class - Wrote a brilliant theme song, and created instrumental parts.  We made it through the first two lyrics or so before everyone in the class ran to a different instrument and began playing.  Lots of musical ownership in this class.  They took it to the next level.  We also started talking about 8th grade projects.
See you next week...

Friday, September 18, 2015

Music Class at Summers Knoll was a blast this week:
Our SK theme right now is "identity".  Honoring this theme, all the classes are composing theme  songs which help define, musically, who they are as a class.  Composing a theme song is a wonderful exercise both because it is a great group experience and because the song will express their identity both lyrically and musically. Composing a song bonds them together as a class in so many ways.  Besides the theme songs, each of the classes is doing many wonderfully musical things which I have tried to describe below:

The Kindergarteners have now officially become a band.  They have a repertoire of two songs that they can all play on piano, guitar and drums (and sing).  Today they composed their class theme song which is gorgeous, creative and awesome.  We will continue in this way, exploring sounds, hearing music, dancing, playing songs as a band, and composing. Big fun - Kindergarten is just a blast.

The 1/2s are progressing steadily with their repertoire and have worked a lot on the basics of reading notes and rhythms.  Elaine's class is working on singing in harmony and performing their theme song (which they composed with 3 part harmony).  Mrs. Carpenter's class has gotten a lot of music literacy time in and is working well through the books individually. They should all be thinking about what lyrics they might choose for their theme song, which we will compose next week. I am pretty excited..

The 3/4s - Both classes have composed very awesome and quite challenging theme songs.  This week we have taken on the great adventure of learning to play these songs as a group.  Both classes have risen to the occasion, learned advanced musical lessons and really worked hard to learn their theme songs on all the instruments.  As we progress with our future lessons in composition and instrumental and vocal proficiency, we will continue singing our theme songs and we will start recording them soon.  This will serve as a lesson in utilizing our recording software which we will practice individually in a few months.

The 5/6s  abandoned me this week to go to Howell.  I missed them terribly but heard that they had a good time.  They will start next week with the composition project you can read about in the next paragraph.

The 7/8s started their first compositional exercise and created short but incredible melodies based on words spelled with the letters we use for the names of the notes.  This is a really exceptional exercise which combines rules with freedom. The kids came up with extremely creative melodies (and sentences), and incorporated form, rhythm, and chords.  This is the first of many compositional exercises we will do and I can see we are going to have some amazing compositions this year. 

In other news, we began the SK middle school band this week and planned out our curriculum for the semester.  We are all playing multiple instruments and most of us will be composing for the band.  We are focusing mostly on movie themes and we are excited for a great semester. 

Oh yeah, and we're still looking for keyboards, ukuleles, guitars, headphones and iPads (and any other musical instruments) if anyone has anything they want to donate.

It was so nice to see so many parents at curriculum night.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Recordings are coming soon, I promise.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My first SK Blog, really my first anything blog ever;  I am so excited.  Here we go...

Hi SK people,
We are off to a fabulously musical start here at SK.  I have already seen every class at least once and can positively confirm that all of the children are adorable, brilliant and musically gifted.  As usual, we are all going to learn many musical skills and do a lot of composing.  Here's a rundown of what we've started already, grade by grade:

7/8 - We have begun with a review of some instrumental musical skills and a delightful conversation about what we will be learning and doing this year; including instrumental learning and music literacy skills individually, classes and small group projects in composition and recording techniques and of course lots of fun collaborating for music cafes.  We also introduced the 8th grade music project, which is to either a.) Compose, direct, rehearse and perform a musical or b.) Compose, rehearse, record and produce an album.  These are big projects so we decided to get started right away.  It's going to be a blast

5/6 – 5/6s also began with a review of instrumental music skills.  We are catching ourselves up on technical and literacy skills for piano, ukulele, guitar and drum-set a little bit and then we will launch right into some exciting lessons and group projects in music composition.

3/4 – 3/4s are going to do a lot of playing and singing this year (it is music class after all).  I have started to introduce our books to some of the classes already, which is a way of letting them progress individually at their own pace while still being part of a cohesive musical group.  We all have different talents and skills and it is important to improve those skills and feel ownership over that individual improvement autonomously.  But it is also important that each of us sees that, whatever our current skills or level of advancement, we are all a valuable part of the musical ensemble.  So this week we have already composed our own theme songs, which are brilliant, and we have already spent some time practicing keyboards and ukuleles individually. We finally have enough keyboards, headphones, guitars and ukuleles so we can all practice at the same time. We will spend some time each week practicing skills on guitar, ukulele, piano, drum-set and literacy on our own and we will also spend some time using these skills to collaborate by playing, singing, arranging or composing music.  It's going to be a lot of fun.

1/2 - First and Second graders are doing a lot of the same things as the 3/4s.  Elaine's class has already composed and learned to play their amazing theme song, and Mrs. Carpenter’s class will be doing the same next week.  We have all worked a bit on keyboards individually and we look forward to doing a lot of practicing individually and also playing and composing together in small and large groups.

Kindergarteners - We had so much fun in our first Kindergarten music class.  We learned a song called "I'm Spinning" and we danced and sang (while spinning of course). Then we learned to play the song on Ukulele, drum-set and piano and finally all got on different instruments and played together as a group. We will be doing a lot of this type of work this year, and we will also learn how to compose as a class.

Lots of fun so far, and it's just going to get better!