Music Notes May 2016

Music at VHE

Deep Listening

In K-2, we have really focused on expanding our listening skills, as well as our conversation and discussion around music, using appropriate academic language. Lately, we have concentrated on the element of Timbre (also known as "color") and talked about how a composer's use of different instruments and "colors" of sound can contribute to the overall mood and idea of the piece.

Some pieces that have been featured include Peer Gynt Suite (Morning and Hall of the Mountain King), Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Hornpipe from Water Music. Listen with your K-2 student and ask them to tell you about the timbre changes!

We have also noticed that you can describe music in a factual way (the melody goes up by steps) and an imaginative way (the melody feels peaceful and calm, like the morning before things are awake). We discussed why both are critical. Music with no imagination involved isn't that interesting and imagination with no noticing of facts seems random.

Instrumental Ensembles Continue in 3rd-5th
3rd and 5th graders are wrapping up their recorder playing by demonstrating for the class. Their demonstration piece is one that they have learned on their own--by reading--rather than by watching me and just copying my fingers. I have written several pieces for them to choose from, in addition to our class books.

4th graders are getting ready for their May 14th music field trip to the Overture Center to play with the symphony! We wish we could bring you all as chaperones, but alas, we can't. The whole audience will be filled with kids and their recorders, ready to join the MSO playing Dvorak's New World Symphony, Simple Gifts, Beethoven's finale of the 9th symphony and other tunes. I know that you are all very curious about how 800 recorders plus the symphony sound together. Some people have told me that once you have more than 2 or 3 kids, you barely notice the difference. It is the same for recorders. Somehow, it all works and it quite beautiful! Some symphony members told me that they cried when they heard the kids enter on the New World Theme last year.

5th graders are working on selecting their final song for the year, which is sung at graduation. The outcome here is that they understand the place and function of music. Their assignment was to nominate a piece that would fit the mood and function of a 5th grade graduation, as well as suit their abilities as singers and work with a piano part and 65 singing kids. Stay tuned to find out what they select! (P.S. It is nice that I can totally trust them to make a choice that is appropriate in text. Sometimes songs are suggested that are less than ideal, but in the end, the kids vote wisely!)

- Margaret Jenks


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