Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Time

It's almost mid-summer (I'm being optimistic).  Flowers are blooming and the sun is warm.  I recently went to the University of Hartford -- Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, Connecticut.  Former Porters Point students may remember when we had Peter and Mary Alice Amidon for a week-long residency at our school -- maybe five years ago?? Anyway, I went to a week-long course at Hartt with the Amidon's designed for music educators.  What a GREAT week!  The course was called: "Rich Traditions and New Creations - Dance, Song, Storytelling and Literature in the Music Classroom".  Course requirements were to retell a story (no books allowed!!) and to create a song to sing to the group.  Quite a challenge.  I tell stories to my students all the time.  I love to use books to tell (or sing) a story.  This was different, though.  The "class" was all adults -- all music teachers.  I also had to write a song, and so I chose a personal subject -- my Mother.  It wasn't easy, but once I got started it was hard to stop.  It went very well.

Now the best parts of this class were all my classmates!  There were 30 people in the class and every one of them was excited to be there.  They participated all of the time.  We danced and sang harmony and just had a wonderful time.  Peter and Mary Alice are great teachers and they taught us all how to teach...  I'm so glad I took advantage of this opportunity with two fabulous people:  Peter and Mary Alice Amidon.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New iPad Mini's for PPS Music!!

Thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of Colchester Music, Porters Point School has received two iPad Mini's to be used exclusively in the Music Room at PPS.  This is good news because I will be able to load music apps and have the iPads available for all classes.  Our first project was done with First Graders.

Students launched into a project called "What's In A Name?"  Using the Garage Band app, students used the Sampler to record a sound based on their first name.  Once their name was recorded, they then used the onscreen music keyboard to record an 8-bar (measure) track.  Students were so surprised at how funny their voices sounded when listening to high and low sounds.  They really learned a lot about such musical concepts as high-low, loud-soft, and fast-slow.  

After recording their first track, students selected a bass guitar loop to include with their creation.  They also added a drum track to compliment their recorded track by adding sounds from the available drum kits. They had options to choose from as far as types of percussion instruments and how they wanted the track to sound.  

Students then presented their projects to the class, and the reaction was to get up and dance!  This stuff sounds really fun!!!  So how can we use such a project?  We brainstormed times when students write a story and how music could be added to go along with parts of the story -- or throughout the story. The music could be used to dance to, and a song with words could be added to it.

As a music teacher, I had so much fun seeing students create these projects.  I had a student approach me after this project was all done and she told me she wrote a song.  I said, "OK, so now you can write the music track to go along with it, right?"  She responded with a big smile...     

Friday, March 6, 2015

Students Process Their Performance

An important step in performing is to process afterwards. We always videotape the performance for this purpose. This recording is just for us to use in-class following the performance so students can see what the audience saw. We cannot make this recording available to the public (as in a money-maker) because some students do not have permission to be videotaped for public viewing.  But of course, the video is NEVER as good as the real thing!

So in addition to watching the video recording, students process their performance through writing and drawing a picture. It is always fascinating to me to see what students' ideas are of their performance. Students are generally very proud and say their parents were so excited to see them up there on the big stage...


Friday, February 13, 2015

WE DID IT!! Great Job, Everyone!!!

Porters Point School students performed "Too Much Noise!" by Brian Hiller and Don Dupont for their parents and the community on February 11 and 12, 2015.  Half the school performed on Wednesday and the other half of the school performed on Thursday.  Even though it is the same script, the students bring in their own personalities which makes them different performances.  It is a joy to watch the students with that twinkle in their eye as they perform and receive the applause from the audience.  Great job, everyone!!  Below are just some highlights:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Too Much Noise"!" Wednesday and Thursday THIS WEEK!!!

Just a last minute reminder that our performances of "Too Much Noise!" are Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 and Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at Colchester High School in the Theater.  Both evenings begin at 6:30 pm and are about 30 minutes in length.  All students should arrive at Colchester High School by 6:15 pm on their performance night and meet their classroom teacher in the Cafeteria.  Parents, please take your child's coat/boots/etc. with you into the Theater.  Do not leave anything in the Cafeteria during the performance!

Wednesday Night Performing Classes are:  Mrs. Reynolds (K), Ms. Donnelly (1), Ms. Warren (2), Mrs. Hooper (2), Mrs. Plunkett (1), Mr. Shepherd (1).

Thursday Night Performing Classes are:  Mr. Allbee (K), Mrs. Hershman (1), Ms. LaRose (2), Mrs. Bissonnette (2), Ms. Silverberg (1), Mrs. Belaski (K).

Students should wear regular school clothing (nothing fancy is needed).  Sneakers are preferred!!  No clogs, heels or boots.  Students need to feel comfortable standing and sitting on stage, and it can get hot, so no bulky layers are needed.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the performances this week!!

"Too Much Noise!" was written by Brian Hiller and Don Dupont

Friday, February 6, 2015

Our Musical Is Next Week!!

Students have been working very hard to learn the songs and prepare for our performances next week of "Too Much Noise!"  Below is the last Parent Letter with the details you probably want to know before coming to Colchester High School...

Final Parent Letter

Looking forward to seeing everyone next week!

Friday, January 23, 2015

More Musical Prep -- How Do We Learn The Songs?

Our musical "Too Much Noise!" will be performed on February 11 and 12, 2015.  All students have been introduced to the story, and each week we are adding more songs to put it all together.  There are six songs students will learn.  How do we learn these songs?

First, we listen to the music.  The beauty of this musical is that almost all the songs are based on children's nursery rhymes, lullabies, and songs.  The creators of this musical, Brian Hiller and Don Dupont then composed original music to go along with these words.  Many of the songs have a component where students must use inner hearing to think the words while they hum the melody. The natural rhyme scheme of the words make it predictable for students to quickly feel comfortable learning the songs.

Anyone who works with children that are 5-8 years old has probably figured out that students need to MOVE!!!!  They are more engaged when they can wiggle and move around.  So another feature in these songs is that they all include some sort of movement.  This really helps students to connect to the beat of the music and feel the natural rhythm inherent in the lyrics.

Although students only have music with me for 40 minutes once a week, teachers are provided the music so students can hear the music in their classrooms during such times as their Morning Meetings, snack times, indoor recess, and at the end of the day.  Repetition really is the key to learning something new.  So by the time we get to the performances in February, students will have learned all the songs.