Music Notes May 2016

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.

Music Notes April 2016


Recorders! The 3rd graders are just beginning, the 4th graders are well underway in preparing for their Carnegie Hall Link-Up experience with the Madison Symphony Orchestra on May 14th and the 5th graders are reviewing skills from last year and adding to them so they can use the recorder in their upcoming "Chamber Ensembles" work.

Music Notes March 2016

March is Music in the Schools month! As a tribute, I thought I'd share a little of my philosophy and planning process.

As many of you may have heard me explain, at any given time, I design three outcomes (or goals) for the students in music. They are specific for each grade level, but often they are related in a general way, as I always hope that students (and their siblings and parents) can take joy in meaningful music conversations!

Our current outcomes (or learning goals):

Music Notes February 2016

In January, students enjoyed the 8th graders' performance of The Music Man. We studied two overarching themes of the musical. 1) The idea that humans are capable of changing--no matter how lonely, stubborn, inconsiderate or old they are. 2) When you see are hopeful, see possibilities and have dreams, life is better and richer. Now that The Music Man is done, we're doing a quick rhythm review and going on to some instrumental ensemble work with drums for many grade levels and recorders for 4th graders.

Music Notes January 2016

January 30th is the annual boy choir festival sponsored by Madison Youth Choirs and the Madison School District! It is open to boys in grades 2-12, with 3 different choirs that overall have more than 500 boys. I direct the elementary group of boys and would love to have many VHE kids there. I sent home a note before break. The morning, which includes music, practice, a t-shirt, snack and the concert is only $5! Scholarships are available. On January 14th, all VHE students will see the Jr. version of The Music Man, performed by Hamilton 8th graders.

Music Notes December 2015

The music writing focus has been on melody this last month, with various types of music writing through the grade levels. From the kindergarten students reading with beginning music symbols through the 5th graders writing their own accompaniments and playing them together as a class, VHE music students have explored some of the structures that help music to make sense to the listeners. 

Music Notes November 2015

The Van Hise students did a great job singing the choruses along with Opera for the Young last month. The actress that played Pamina commented that it was so powerful hearing all the voices join on the first chorus, that she was holding back tears. It is always nice to have the 16 kids up in front be strong (which they were), but it is really a great testament to the kids of the school when they all have the confidence to sing!

We will continue to be looking at way that music helps to communicate ideas and stories--through other genres and through our own compositions.

Music Note - October 2015

As you might have heard, Opera For the Young is coming to VHE this year! Though we typically have them every three years, we are getting an extra performance in this "off year" thanks to a generous donor. The opera we are studying is Mozart's The Magic Flute. We are learning four choruses in music class that we will sing along with the opera as a school.

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