Carols for Christmastime

Season’s Greetings!

Yes, I am alive and well, even though I have been absent from the blogsphere :^). As I have these past three years, I have had the pleasure to plan for this year’s Candlelight Service of Lessons and Carols with our chaplains. Since 1931, a Christmas Carol service has been observed at our Chapel and around 1990, our school adapted the form of Service of Lessons and Carols (see its interesting history here). It is one of my favorite school traditions that invites community members (faculty, parents, siblings, alumni, and community guests) to sing with our choirs for a night of glorious celebration. Each of the nine lessons are read by a student or faculty and followed by a corresponding carols of the Advent sung by all or by small choral ensembles.

As a vocal director, it’s a joy to look for arrangements that 1) are musically interesting, 2) highlight my students and challenge my advance singers, and 3) are relatively easy-to-follow arrangements for congregational singing.

Some of our favorite carols come from the 100 Carols for Choirs (edited and arranged by David Willcocks & John Rutter): Once in Royal David’s City, See Amid the Winter’s Snow, and Nativity Carol. In addition to these favorite carols from the book, here are some gems our choirs have discovered and have sung past three services (for some arrangements, I’ve had to contact the arranger directly…interesting times of digital downloads through PayPal!).

I know my students and I have our favorites from this list. If you find a new favorite, please leave me a comment!

Peace and joy to you,

ysl

Reflecting Goodness

In a few days, students and I will be starting classes for the 2016 – 2017 school year. I think many teachers and students share the same kind of excitement, nervousness, hope, and even some fear.

The text in Reflexionem by Patrick Hawes are:

Veritas vertuatem redit, pulchritude vertatem redit.

Truth reflects goodness, beauty reflects truth.
This is how I want be this year: being true, reflecting goodness and making beautiful moments with my students.
Here’s to a great school year, reflecting all that is good!
Enjoy listening to this beautiful choral work performed by Voces8.

Walking This Way

What Do You See?
What Can You See?

It’s been a great teaching and learning year. As I look ahead, there are just 5 more weeks of school; I can’t help but reflect on my experiences.

A New Beginning

I became the chair of our school’s technology department in addition to being a chair of the music department at the beginning of this school year. I wasn’t sure how it was going to unfold or how I would feel about heading up another department. I have always been passionate about tech in teaching, but have not thought about using this passion for my career. I have to admit: I’m really enjoying it! Some things I have learned are:

  • I enjoy working with teachers and helping them to build their tech skills
  • I enjoy conversations about instructional tech with my team and the admins
  • I enjoy exploring tech ideas and writing out details to implement them. Participating in #edtechchat  & #digcit chats several times have been great to connect to other edtech PLN!

My team and I have initiated the following this year:

  • Compiled and implemented 3rd-8th Digital Citizenship and Literacy Curriculum
  • Hosted Parent Coffee to have conversations about the digital world and students
  • Send out Tech Tip Tuesday resources out to staff and curate them on 9 Flipboards
  • Help each other to keep learning

And I am glad that I teach music during the day because my students keep me curious and creative. Although there are many things I don’t know yet and will need to learn, it’s been a great learning journey! I’m grateful for this opportunity!

GIVING PROPS

Beautiful {Re}purpose
Beautiful {Re}Purposed PIANO. Photo by @Doremigirl

Isn’t this beautiful? We had a baby grand in our department, which was not repairable. I hate throwing instruments away so I looked up on Pinterest if we could repurpose this piano. Lo and behold, I found some images and asked Greg, a groundsman/maintenance, and all-around hardworking friend, if he had any idea what we can do to make bookshelves out of this old piano. Greg graciously took on this project on and used whatever free time he had to work on this beautiful bookshelf. This beautiful bookshelf is in the main hall and will hold arts books for our students to read. Thank you Greg, for this labor of love! It is so inspiring. Our community will enjoy this art piece for a very long time!


AnnieOur Middle School musical was Annie Jr. We had a wonderful group of students who exhibited perseverance and creativity in their acting and singing. I am always amazed at the help given to us by parents, teachers, and other non-musical students for costumes, set design, and backstage help. It was a great way for the community to come together and put on a great show. Excellent job by all! This picture is of our Annie, one of my students named Erica. She will be graduating this June. She is a sweet, intelligent, and humble young lady whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for nine years. She and her classmates will be graduating this June. The commencement will be bittersweet as we send them on their new journey!


On Thursday, April 17th, our Middle School Choir was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Citizens Bank Park! The Phillies were playing against the Atlanta Braves; my students were nervous, but did a good job singing and representing our school. The choir prepared well and adjusted pretty well to the echoey stadium. It was a great day for us! You can watch the video here. (WP won’t let me embed iFrame code 🙂

MS Choir @Phillies Game. Photo by Heddy Bergsman
MS Choir @Phillies Game.
Photo by Heddy Bergsman
The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl
The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl

And each year, the second grade class performs a little musical production. This year, the production was inspired by Eric Carle’s picture book, I See A Song”. I will blog about this amazingly fun and collaborative project  later– I just wanted to post this picture of my students singing their song yesterday. I love their spirit –they have taught me so much through the way they saw songs around them. I promise to post how this project came about and share my project with you. Here are my students performing on Friday, April 25th.

I See A Song! Photo by @Doremigirl
I See A Song!
Photo by @Doremigirl

Blip Update (Daily photo + Music Project) So far, I have 115 Blip entries and haven’t missed a day! All the images above, except the choir singing directed by me, are my photos. It’s been really fun and rewarding to keep this project going; I am learning to use different lenses and compose my shots a bit better. Starting this project with my husband on January 1st was a fine idea! So can you scroll up to the first photo you saw at the top of this post? What do you see?  Sometimes, things look and feel messy, out-of-order, and downright chaotic, just like the ink settling in the vase. What I have learned is that pulling back and being still at crazy times helps me to refocus and see things more clearly. The first photo is a picture I took for a MonoMonday challenge. I decided to experiment with ink and water. Can you see a face? I know what face I see. Who do you see — Mark Twain or Evard Grieg, or someone else? I hope your school year is full great memories and challenges that made you grow. Until next time, @Doremigirl

For the Love of Reading!

{I have been quite reticent lately due to my involvement with the middle school musical – which I will reflect later. I wanted to quickly write this post while it’s still  the Read Across America week!}

There’s been quite a celebration this week for

Reading!

Inspired by two second grade teachers, this reading project was born. They got many teachers to read a page of Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You! for the Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day, March 2, 2014). They efficiently uploaded mp4 files  and scanned PDFs into a shared GDoc folder; I took the recordings and PDF pages into Keynote and  iMovie. We introduced the video in the morning to our PreK-3 this morning and the response has been great! Guessing names of the teachers will not be that fun for people outside of our school, but the students and teachers had fun guessing who is reading.

The following are my take aways from this project:

  • The project was simple and manageable.
  • It’s fun when teachers collaborate. (Teachers want to make more of these books!)
  • It’s a great way for the students to see how teachers collaborate.
  • The project benefits everyone in the school community – the shared link may inspire families to read together or even older middle school students to make similar book projects for their younger buddies.
  • This video was designed such way that it can be used in multiple ways. It can serve as an audio book, as a reading book and for reading practice, and to inspire students/teachers to read and create digital storybooks.

There was another event that took place yesterday to celebrate literacy: Book Swap. K – 5th grade students brought books they already read and are willing to part with. The library was set up with tables with these books for classes to swap books. I thought it was a brilliant way to recycle and distribute books. I can see how the Book Swap can be an on-going literacy event.

Wait, there is more. All the remaining books have been donated to a local children’s library.

I’m thankful that I took a part in this win-win project! If you would like more details, or have better ways to create a project like this, please leave me a comment!

 
Here is the video:

PS: My music classes and I will see about adding music that will go with this video. I will follow up when this has been completed!

 

~@Doremigirl

Interactive Music Class Olympics

Happy February!

Over the last decade, I have come to really appreciate the Olympics  (and another one here) -maybe it’s a maturing process. 🙂

My students love listening to classical selections and learning about various composers. So I thought I would combine these components – composers, their music, the game of the Olympics, and some technology – together.

When you click here, you will get to a ThingLink page that looks like this:
The Music Winter Olympics ThingLink Page

Because iframe codes don’t work on my blog, I thought I’d just embed what the actual page will look like. When you move the cursor over each block, all the buttons will appear like the picture above. Each composer has 4 different areas of information:

  1. Biography (yellow bullet)
  2. Music selection (red play button)
  3. Flag of the composer’s country (blue bullet)
  4. National anthem (most current anthem; black play button)

Since this is the first of my online composer playlist, I started with mostly the “Greats” in classical music. The second page (forthcoming) has other interesting composers my students have not heard about.

Canva & ThingLink

  • I came across Canva through Twitter teachers who were putting out polished posters/infographics. It’s an amazing site to create newsletters, posters, documents etc. Why I like it: There are many choices for you for choosing layouts, graphics, colors, fonts, and sharing. It might take a bit of time to navigate and for you to create what you want, but it’s worth your time! If what you put on your project are “free” designs, it’s absolutely free for you to download your project as PDFs. All other premium items, you’ll need to pay $1 for each. I haven’t used any premium for any of my 4 projects so far. What I used for this project: Moodboard template. I modified the fonts, colors, and uploaded composers’ pictures. I highly recommend this site!
  • ThingLink is another terrific site for teaching.  ThingLink is a site where you can create touch points for students to touch your  parts of the image on the ThinkLink board to explore and learn. Why I like it: It’s interactive! When I use a ThingLink board for lessons, I can have the page open on the SMARTBoard and have my students interact within the lesson. What I used for this project: Uploaded image of my composers from Canva. I added 4 links on each corner. I used this board as a mystery game so many squares were filled with a question mark with only the country label. Right now, ThingLink does not let you replace the image so I had to re-add all the links every time I revealed new composers. But I highly recommend this site!

Useful Sites for Music Teachers and Students:

  • Biographies I normally use New York Philharmonic Kidzone or Classics for Kids for bios, but while researching, I came across a terrific site called 52 Composers. I love it because it has a comprehensive timeline, quotes, videos of musical performances, composers in art videos, lists of related book and online resources. I highly recommend it!
  • Musical selections – Spotify is still my go-to app for music classes, but I decided to post a YouTube video link instead (all linked to Viewpure.com – this site only shows the video you want, not all the “you might like” videos). If my students come across other related videos about particular videos, I can always tag another link onto the ThingLink.
  • Flag from each country – I found Flags.net to be a helpful site. Images of the flags are big and the site has pertinent information about the country.
  • National anthems – This site is also new for me. It has over 400 anthems past and present. I love it because it has a big database of national anthems in many forms: PDF of the music, audio playback so you can listen to the anthems (recordings or Midi), and download the anthems.

Beyond these sites:

  1. Because my students will be watching the Olympic games with their families, at the end of each music class, I will challenge them to write down or remember what music they heard in skating events (if any – some event broadcasters will mention these pieces). I also encourage my students to explore and learn about composers who are not on our board on their own. Some kids bring their findings (or email me interesting facts) and have a chance to present facts and repertoire in class.
  2. After the facts and repertoire is learned, my students will be participating in our own Music Olympics. Due to snow and no power days, our schedule has been delayed. But my plan is to divide K-4th graders in 3 different teams (somewhat random and mixed grades). Some of the games will simulate the Winter games. I have to be creative with using different parts of our campus or by making some games. Once my planning is done, I will also post the games along with the second page of composers.

I am happy that my students are excited to learn!

Music is, really, all around. Let’s help our young learners to keep learning!

If you’re a music teacher, check out my playlist of useful resources I use for my music classes here.

~@Doremigirl

Happy Birthday, Herr Mozart!

Today is W.A. Mozart’s 258th birthday!

What Mozart said here speaks volumes to what kind of master musician Mozart was:

It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.  – W. A. Mozart. Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in His Own Words

What’s a birthday celebration without music?

Here’s a great video of Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 D minor, K. 466 with the Camerata Salzburg, directed by Mitsuko Uchida. Ms. Uchida, an acclaimed pianist and a Grammy Award winner, is renowned for her interpretation on the music of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven. Here, she is directing and performing as the soloist. The entire performance is brilliant!

Happy Monday!

@Doremigirl

 

New Year Challenge: Sound Illustration

Happy 2014!

I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start!

I enjoyed a much needed break. During the two-week break, I came across a cool photo journal app, that got me to start a new daily photo journal. I’m enjoying seeing daily pics and enjoying the stories that accompany the images. I’m glad to take part in Blipfoto community!

This morning, I came across an interesting challenge by Cathaber who invited her readers to post their daily pictures with an appropriate soundtrack. For me, image + story + soundtrack = perfect!

Today’s blip is about cold, cold winter. It snowed about 7-8 inches overnight. This would not be that big a deal except that the local newscasters announced that our area is colder than Alaska right now!

So I got to think about what soundtrack I’d accompany my blip today. As I do for many of my classes, I just started listening to music and started making a “Winter” playlist….so here is the selection I made for many new winter songs I came across.

I’m tagging some people who are always listening to music and thinking about teaching connections:

@stepanpruch

@nobleknits2

@royanlee

@malynmawby

@reed_man

@TriToneJones

@scott_watson

For the friends I mentioned (or other readers): I invite you to start a daily picture-a-day (365 project) so that we can do it together. If this is too much 😉 I invite you to tweet or let me know if you write a post with a soundtrack that describes your day. I wonder how many soundtracks and songs we can track throughout the year. Life seen through music, doesn’t it sound just beautiful?

My blip post is here with my playlist!

Here’s to a great year full of music!

~Doremigirl