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  • Writer's pictureMs. McKinnon

February Festivities

Happy third snow day, everyone! Don't get me wrong, the extended weekend has been nice but I'm missing all of my wonderful kiddos and am ready to be back at school with them. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the beauty of snow outside my window.

Back on Thursday, February 8th, Riverbend hosted it's first Family Folk Dance Night. Students had spent the last month learning dances from around the world and about the different cultures. It was a pretty solid turnout for the first year and I'm excited to see this event grow over the years. It was so sweet to see families come together through dance. Thank you to Sara Rogers for capturing these photos!

On a personal note, Valentine's weekend marked a very special opportunity for my career. I was a presenter at the NAFME Northwest Regional convention where I had the chance to share teaching strategies with other music teachers from the whole Northwest about how to include manipulatives in their classroom to increase learning and student engagement. A special shout-out goes to my "lunch-bunch" groups for their willingness to be guinea pigs and be recorded as part of this presentation. Check out some of their "top secret" projects they helped me with below.

Valentine's is fun and all, but February is also Black History Month. We've been taking time to learn about key African American musicians and focus on some of their iconic songs. 4th and 5th grades have learned about Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner and played along to "Respect" and "Proud Mary" on unpitched percussion.

One of our musician birthdays this last week was Nina Simone and we learned about how she used her music to help fight for civil rights then we read the story "We Shall Overcome". Civil Rights may have had a peak in the 1960s, but there is always a fight going on we can join and work for bettering the lives of all people. Mrs. Burgin's class had been talking about activism which made for a beautiful connection and discussion with our story. 3rd-5th grades completed listening glyphs while analyzing iconic songs for qualities like tempo, form, and instrumentation. My 90's kid heart especially loved doing "Getting Jiggy With It" by Will Smith!

Younger students have been enjoying songbooks by African American musicians like Louis Armstrong and Bob Marley. Our study of African American musicians may have been cut short by the snow, but we'll highlight some more in April for National Jazz Month.

First grade has been steadily working on their upcoming performance of "Prime Time Nursery Rhymes" on Thursday, March 21. Save-the-Date notices went home last week but in case you missed it, a digital copy has been posted on the 1st grade show page. Narrators and costumed characters have been selected! Notices were supposed to go home in backpacks on Monday, but Mother Nature had a different plan. Whenever we go back, be on the lookout for them. Later this week, the "Speaking Parts" link will be updated with student names.

Kindergarten has jumped into a Jungle Beat adventure in preparation for their performance in April. I'm so impressed with how quickly they're picking up on their feature songs and choreography after only one day. There's no doubt it will be an adorable time as they lead us all on a musical safari. Students will be making thematic crafts to help decorate the stage so Kinder teachers may be in need of some supplies. Check with them for specific details. Students can practice at home by listening to the playlist available by selecting "Performances" from the menu, then clicking "Kindergarten". More information will be shared as we get closer to performance time.

2nd grade is continuing their study of instrument families and had a blast playing Four Corners to reinforce the concept. Woodwind can be a little tricky because it doesn't have such an obvious quality like brass or string but they're rocking it! All of this is leading up to a unit on Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf". This is a favorite unit of mine because we get to compare/contrast the book version with the animated version and dig into how timbre of instruments can match a character's personality. Next month will highlight our Peter & the Wolf journey.

Check out one of our favorite ways to transition between activities! Each pattern on the piano has a corresponding movement. All instructions come from the piano and students have to use active listening for changes in tempo, octave placement, and body level. Not going to lie, it's like being a puppet master and I make them do some really silly things!

4th grade recorders have been ordered and should be arriving shortly. I do not have an exact delivery timeframe but my estimate is sometime in the first two weeks of March. Once they arrive, cases will be labeled with student names and they can start serenading you all at home. If your child did not order one, they'll still be playing with us but using one from our class set. They just can't take it home due to being school equipment. Should a student really want a personal one after we get started, please send me an email for information about which kind we are using.

Lastly, March is national Music In Our Schools Month! It is a perfect time to stop and think about the role music plays in our different lives whether you are a professional performer or someone who simply enjoys music while they're riding in the car. MIOSM started back in 1973 and promotes the benefits of high quality music education in schools. Be sure to check out our "Who Am I" board in the main hallway starting this Friday to see if you can guess how music fits into different Riverbend staff's lives! Answers will be revealed a few days before spring break. 

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