Greetings from the music room!

In this issue:
1. A Typical Day in Music Class
2. January Themes and activities
3. Request for the contribution of a skill!


A Typical Day in Music Class
As you may know, “specials” see each class twice a six day cycle.  So, for music I have two chances to reinforce concepts, teach songs, or repeat fun stories, dances, or games.

From K to 5, students understand that they will line up outside the music room and demonstrate that they are ready to enter by being quiet and facing me.  Once inside they form a circle around our carpet.    The Kindergarteners have a special song that they sing as they prepare to be seated, sung to the melody of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.  There are accompanying body motions:

Hands go up and hands go down
I can turn around and round
I can jump up on two shoes
I can listen so can you
I can sit I’ll show you how
Music class is starting now

When  everyone is seated, students will likely learn a school-wide song.  These songs are sung during assembly on the following Day 1 and are designed to give students a sense that they are part of something larger– the Symonds community.  As they sing in a group of 330+ instead of the usual 15-20 the lyrics and message of the song itself is reinforced.

After a song we participate in an activity.  This can be many things over the course of the year.  Some examples are:
-working with singing note intervals (do, re, mi, so, la)
-a notation and/or rhythm exercise
-instrumental work
-a dance
-learning about a particular composer

All of the activities emphasize participation among everyone and include concepts that allow students to internalize music and movement.  When appropriate, I strive to be cross disciplinary and discuss history, science, math, and language as it relates to music and the arts.

My goal is to end class with a musical piece for silent listening.  Given our 30-35 minute block together I admit that my goals are often loftier than time will allow.    Throughout the class, our self created Responsive Classroom goals are encompassed under “Be Safe, Kind, and Respectful”.  We talk to each other, sit down, sing, dance, play instruments and ultimately line up to exit with these concepts in mind.


January Themes and Activities

Grades 1-5 have been beginning work on Ukeleles.  I have a new guitar pick maker(!)–each student will be given their own pick, made from used gift cards for use in class.  Our focus in the upper grades include 3 chords– C, F, and G.  In the lower grade we are working on how to hold the instrument, locate notes, and pick each string.

This month we are comparing the music of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.  I have given everyone a description of the Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic period of music and played examples. Students are then asked to identify each composer by the sound of a piece.

With the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday approaching we have discussed the significance of music in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.  We have also touched on what significance MLK has to Symonds.  King’s message of conflict resolution through peaceful means resonates in the classroom and on the playground.  With this idea I introduced a song written by a friend just last year about the legacy of Dr. King.  Ask your child to sing it!  The lyrics are below:

I’ve Got A Dream
words and music (c) John Fisher 2012

I’ve got a dream and I can’t get rid of it
I believe in every bit of it
Been stuck inside of me
Ever since nineteen sixty three

It’s about the content of one’s character
Ain’t nothing else gonna matter
If around the welcome table
Everybody’s got a seat
From the Lookout Mountain in Tennessee
To the streets of New York City
An endless line of marchers
Until everybody is free

Every valley raised and exalted
Every mountain barrier vaulted
On the sunlit path to freedom
A beautiful symphony
In every hamlet, town and city
No rest and no tranquility
’til free at last, free at last
Sweet land of liberty

On the Washington Mall that August
As the marchers gather before us
We make our choice, lift every voice
And justice is the song
It was the greatest demonstration
In the history of the nation
The struggle is long and the struggle is hard
And now it’s ours to carry on


1. Wanted!  A carpenter willing to donate some time and skill to build a…….Crankie! SEE PHOTO BELOW
I have what may be considered an odd request.  Having spent a fair amount of time with Brattleboro music teacher Andy Davis this past summer I had the opportunity to observe his use of what is called a crankie.  A crankie looks like a TV but is made of wood and the movement in the inside of the box is controlled by a crank which moves a long piece of paper.  The paper can be designed by students and tell a story which can be set to music.  It’s a wonderful and creative tool! Symonds needs a crankie!  My thought is that we can create an annual “ABC of Symonds” song along with illustrations placed in the device.  It can be used for the 3rd grade Keene Comes Alive production , etc.  Anyone  with Carpentry Skills willing to put in some fun work, contact me
ere is a meeting this Friday at KHS at 3:30pm

Thanks for checking in and being involved-

Mr. Siegel

PS: I will be playing a free family show at 10am on February 2nd at the Brattleboro Winter Farmers Market
Bring the kids!

Also, look for a kids show with me and Jay Mankita at the colonial theatre in early April.

I do lots of “adult” music but you’ll have to do your research to find out about that!

A Crankie!


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