Friday, September 8, 2017

September, September, and blue is the sky!

Welcome back to another year of music making at Washington Elementary.

My title comes from a lovely poem in groups of three beats that we use in Kindergarten. The poem continues with, "The leaves turn bright colors, and soon they will fly!".  We will be focusing on crunchy sounds in our percussion collection.

Drum club starts Monday, September 11th!  If you didn't see the notice, check back in Mrs. Arnold's electronic newsletter, or in your 3rd and 4th grader's book bag. We'll have 5 quick rehearsals and then present at the Mount Vernon Fine Arts Association (MVFAA) Porchfest.

October 1st, the neighborhood of Third Street South and 4th Ave. SW will host a variety of music and children's games on the beautiful porches. Porchfest!
Drum club will be at the Willem's home at 3:00.
This is a rain or shine event.


And finally, I love this town. There is always plenty to do.  Remember the Art Festival on the main drag, September 16th.  And see the announcement from Eastern Iowa Brass Band below!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Be Grateful

As we enter the last couple says of classes before Thanksgiving break, this song resonates with me from our 3rd and 4th grades.

"Ev’ry experience in our lives teaches us somehow. 
Wisdom will come to us day by day if we just allow.
Be grateful, grateful. Appreciate. 
Be sure to notice that life is great." 

Classes in 3rd and 4th grade have really taken on drumming and are doing great!  We're headed into waltz and 6/8 land with Christmas carols arriving soon.

Younger grades are beginning to improve with playing together the drums and that is where we should be working!  We've also been digging into Peter and the Wolf; learning the story, instrument characters, acting out parts and singing to the music

Fourth grade needs to bring back any recorders they have at home, labeled with their name.  Mrs. Thede's room has almost all returned and ready to go after Thanksgiving.

Events:  Drum club parent night
              Monday, November 28, 7:00 p.m.
               First Street Community Building Auditorium

               Magical Night Drum Club
               Thursday, December 1, 5:30 pm
                First Street Community Building Gym

               Chorus Club Begins in January!
                Mondays after school
                 Watch for the registration form soon

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

As the Calendar Turns....

With my title I may have just shown my age. I never watched soap operas unless it was a snow day.
So "As the World Turns" was one of those time fillers for a 12 year-old.

It is November already! The calendar has turned another page and first semester is racing to the end. Here are some things to keep you updated in the music room:
  • Keyboards have moved over to the middle school and the drums are here! 22 beautiful drums that your donations to MV Fine Arts Association and school Foundation helped us get.  Oh and some wonderful parents who donated to a Donor's Choose project!
  • Classes are moving into studying the tone color of the orchestra.  3rd and 4th will work to name the instruments by sound. Younger grades start with names by picture.
  • Expect to hear about Peter and the Wolf, Carnival of the Animals, or Pictures at an Exhibition in conjunction with the tone color study.
  • Please return recorders, with student name labels, back to school for 4th grade.  We start them again after Thanksgiving.

AND-  Drum roll please-  Drum Club is now meeting every Monday after school! We had quite a few missing on Halloween so we hope that doesn't happen again.

Following are pictures from our Bach concert last Friday with Dr. Hakken. 3rd and 4th attended, 2nd grade had 2 classrooms that also took the offer!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Note From Miss Bergman, student teacher

Hello all Washington Elementary friends and family!

My name is Katharine Bergman, or Miss Bergman as the students will say, and I have had the extreme joy of student teaching with Mrs.Keast for the past seven weeks. This week will be my last week and then I will move on to work with the middle and high school choirs at Regina in Iowa City. I also need to put a shameless plug in for a show. I will be directing a musical production of Miracle on 34th Street at Starlighters II Community Theatre in Anamosa which runs December 2nd through 11th. My reason for mentioning this is I hope to see some familiar faces there as Mount Vernon is just a short drive! (Okay, shameless plug over.)

As I am sitting here writing this, it’s very hard to believe that next week I won’t see all of the students smiling and eager faces. It’s so crazy how just two months ago I didn’t know a single person and now it will be hard to leave everyone. I have even carved out time in our daily schedule this week to say goodbye. It has truly been a pleasure getting to know them, while also watching them grow as musicians. One of my very favorite moments, and there have been many, was last Friday. In Kindergarten and 1st grade we have been working on a song from Ghana called Kye Kye Kule (pronounced che-che koolay). This song involves movement but also gives confidence for singing as it is an echo song. I challenged one class to see if they could be the leaders and I would echo, completely thinking this would never work and I would have to help them out. However, much to my surprise every single student made it through the entire peace and I got to sit back and enjoy. It has been the little moments like that which have been the most memorable and also given me a laugh or two.

I am truly thankful for the support I have received during my time in Mount Vernon. Coming from a much bigger school system in Cedar Rapids, I didn’t at first understand smaller towns, but I can truly say from my experience I couldn’t have asked for a better one. From the moment I walked in my first day I was immediately greeted, welcomed and made to feel at home. The students have been so wonderful to work with and get to know and I look forward to hearing great things from them, (I even think that there may be a future music teacher or two in this bunch). Thank you to the staff and faculty for being so welcoming and also helping me along the way. I especially want to thank Mrs. Keast for opening up her classroom as well as all the conversations and advice. She is an example of truly wonderful and dedicated music educator and I couldn’t feel more grateful for this experience. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Drum club registrations due October 17th

Drum Club time!

Remember to get the form from Mrs. Arnold's email link and turn it in this week.
Deadline is October 17th.
Your student can also pick up a pink page from the music room.
Drum club starts October 24th, 3:15-4:00
This picture from Porch Fest held October 2nd.

Last year's drum club concert.

Friday, September 16, 2016

September Music

Our school year is well under way. Classes are setting up expectations for arrival, posture, small group work and movement. The older grades definitely have these learned as good habits. It's all a part of our school wide PBIS program.  Expectations are positive behaviors that allow students to feel the success of doing the right thing, because they've learned what "right thing", "good decisions", etc. mean!

You will see class and building expectations posted around our halls and rooms when you come for open house. You may see some familiar faces on those posters too!

Music arrival:  Body to self, level 1 voice (or sing the music heard), straight to place, and muscle movers

Movement: Move a safe speed, travel in a body bubble, level 1 voice and participate, encourage a friend

Singing posture: Body to self, sitting tall, watch the teacher, sing so all can hear, listen to my neighbors

Small group work:  Walk to location, listen to all ideas and try them, level 2 voice, care for instruments and worksheets, share instruments and encourage each other

Grade levels have tackled rhythm reviews, singing together, and small instrument practice.
You should hear those 3rd and 4th grade canons!  As the classroom divides into 2 or 3 groups and sing the round (canon) they are really making great acapella music.

Meanwhile Begindergarten and Kindergarten are finding our singing voice and matching our group sound. We're also getting the steady beat rolling in our hands and feet. Everyone learns and develops at a different time, and we will get there!

Miss Bergman is picking up more of the teaching, this week taking the first grade. Next week she will be responsible for 3 grade levels. One first grader told her, "I like it when you are teaching us!".  No doubt songs and games have been coming home.

Don't forget to check out Donors Choose:
Right now the Cedar Rapids foundation is matching all Linn County project donors,  so consider a donation, knowing it will be doubled!!

Search Kristi Keast and look up our 2 drum purchase project.  Mrs. Anderson (MS) and I are replacing the 10 inch pretuned drums (read that- stretch out and can't be fixed) with tuneable 10" drums like the others. As much pressure as drummers put on those through daily use, we know the original elementary tubanos won't last long. It will be nice to keep those drums ready for the K classes.

See you at Open House!  Thursday the 22nd, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A new year is here!

Welcome to school year 2016-17.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. Whether it's the crisp weather, the fall colors, or the fact that one of my favorite things always began- school.

We will be enjoying a student teacher this fall, Miss Bergman. She attends Luther college and comes with lots of kid friendly experience, whether after school choruses, music camps, or long term involvement with Star-lighters' Theater in Anamosa. She is directing the Christmas musical there this year. I'm sure you'll hear more about it when Miss Bergman takes the pen to this blog.

If you have a love-to-sing, always humming student, look below for information with the various Orchestra Iowa Choirs that are offered. They are auditioned, but a small detail. Please check the schedules as the choirs have rehearsal attendance expectations so students are comfortable performing.
If your student needs help preparing the audition song, please let me know ASAP!

Orchestra Iowa    CHORUS AUDITIONS!
Location: Orchestra Iowa School, 119 Third Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids
Time: stop in between 4 and 5:30 p.m. No appointment necessary


Early Childhood students are invited to participate in Harmony Chorus, a K-1 exploratory choir designed to engage students in the joy of making music. (No pre-K students, please). Students work on the basics of pitch, tone matching and breath control as they develop focus and learn the importance of working within a group. A variety of quality and fun literature is selected to build vocal skills and proficiency in unison and simple rounds. This chorus provides performance opportunities throughout the school year. Students must audition to be accepted into the Harmony Chorus. Auditioning students will be asked to sing “Happy Birthday.” Rehearsals are held on Sunday afternoons at Orchestra Iowa School.
Director: Jessica Muters, Tuition: $140, no registration fee
Uniform shirt and tie required at a cost of $10

ODYSSEY CHORUS, Grades 2 & 3
Children in second and third grade are invited to participate in Odyssey Chorus, a preparatory choir designed to instill good vocal habits, beginning music reading and appropriate choir behavior. A variety of educationally sound and kid-friendly literature is selected to build vocal skills and proficiency in unison and part-reading. This chorus also aims to prepare singers for the Discovery Chorus and provides numerous performance opportunities throughout the school year. Rehearsals are held on Sunday afternoons at Orchestra Iowa School. Students audition by singing America (My Country ‘tis of Thee).
Director: Jessica Muters, Tuition: $145 plus registration fee
Uniform shirt and tie required at a cost of $25


Students in fourth, fifth and sixth grades are invited to audition for Discovery Chorus, a long-standing Orchestra Iowa School program designed to help young singers become acquainted with quality choral music and build good vocal and performance technique. Students are selected annually by audition and have the opportunity to perform with Orchestra Iowa on two concert cycles in the school year. Students audition by demonstrating pitch matching and tonal memory skills. They will also be asked to sing America the Beautiful. Rehearsals are held on Sunday afternoons at Orchestra Iowa School.
Director: Amy Hanisch, Tuition: $150 plus registration fee.
Uniform shirt and tie required at a cost of $25

Harmony & Odyssey Schedules
 Harmony: Rehearsals are held on Sundays from 2:30-3:10 or 3:20-4 p.m. at Orchestra Iowa School.
 Odyssey: Rehearsals are held on Sundays from 1:15-2:15 p.m. at Orchestra Iowa School.
First Rehearsal September 11, 2016.
Rehearsal and concert dates to be announced after auditions.

Discovery Schedule
 Rehearsals are held on Sundays from 2:30-4 p.m. at Orchestra Iowa School unless otherwise noted.
For the Symphony 4 Youth Concert: September 11, 18, 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, November 6, 13
Concert date: Monday, November 14: morning concerts. Parents are asked to attend a brief meeting on September 11 at 2:30 p.m.
For the December Holiday Spectacular Concerts: November 20, December 4, 11. Dress rehearsal December 15. Concert dates: December 17 & 18
For the combined choral concert: February 5, 12, 19, 26, March 5, 12, 26, April 2 & 9. (No rehearsals on March 19 or April 16). Dress rehearsal with combined choruses: details TBA. Proposed concert date: Sunday afternoon, April 23 (depending on concert venue).
Orchestra Iowa School, 119 Third Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401, 319.366.8206,