Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dress Rehearsals and Holiday Musicals

Dress Rehearsal for "Once on a Housetop"

'Tis the Season for dress rehearsals and holiday musical performances!

Our second graders will be showcasing their talents this week in a production entitled "Once on a Housetop" by Roger Emerson. They have been working on the music since the school year began and using the lyrics to the songs for memorization purposes in their classrooms during Reader's Workshop. They are very excited about the production, and for most of them, this will be their first time on stage.

Student learning is impacted in several ways while preparing for this production. Shy students come to life on stage. They sing, dance and interact with the audience. They learn to follow me as I conduct the music. They sing with expression. Various genres of music are presented. Various styles of singing are taught. The elements of music are explored as we rehearse each song. Students are exposed to the beauty of harmony and so on. I use the rehearsal setting to teach good vocal technique, ear-training, ensemble singing, part-singing and stage presence. I have had numerous parents tell me that their child is shy and will never be able do this. On many occasions, the parents come to me after the show and say things like, "I never dreamed my child was capable of such a thing." It is a very sweet moment for me as their music teacher.

Producing a quality musical production is a monumental task. The process is a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, students, the music department and the art department. Parents assist with costume construction and set design. Teachers build confidence in their students by rehearsing on the stage and creating the visual experience for the audience. I help the students find their voice and teach them to use it properly. I also conduct each performance which will include three dress rehearsals and three evening performances this week. Mrs. Snead designs, paints and installs the set each year. Even our Security Officer is moonlighting as our sound technician!

During the week, every student in the building will be invited to attend one of our dress rehearsals and practice their "good audience behaviors." My principal lends her unwavering support and attends each evening performance throughout the week. It is truly a labor of love for our learning community and creates a life-long memory for all of our students.

On December 8th at 6:00 p.m. - Ross/Russell/Timmons/Lipsky will perform.

On December 10th at 6:00 p.m. - Chant/Wallace/Morris/Metzger will perform.

On December 10th at 7:30 p.m. - Ruark/VanAlstyne/Walag/Shaffer/Nelson/Rossignol will perform.

All performances will be held in the Chets Creek cafeteria.

As a service to our second graders, the Chets Creek Recorder Club will perform pre-show holiday favorites in the lobby 30 minutes prior to each production.

I hope you will be able to join us!

Until next time....

Monday, November 23, 2009

National Board Certified

It is with great humbleness of heart that I share this news with you – after months and months of working towards National Board Certification and waiting six months for the scores to be posted, I am very happy to report that I am now a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Music.

The journey was long and arduous, and I am deeply honored to be counted among the top 2% of teachers in the nation. My journey began in June, 2008. I attended a workshop at Appalachian State that helped prepare music teachers for the process. I had a great videographer that captured the essence of my teaching so beautifully; I had 5 NBCTs that read my portfolio entries over and over and helped me successfully edit my work; I had a loving husband that picked up the slack at home (grocery shopping, cooking meals, doing laundry, taking care of children, etc.) so that I could pursue my dream. It was truly a labor of love on many fronts and I am indebted to so many of you who stood by me last year and who were faithful to pray for me throughout the process. There were so many people who supported me in this endeavor and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Pursuing National Board Certification was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done, either personally or professionally.

In this season of thanksgiving, I thank God for the intellect, the voice, the musical talent and the gift of teaching He has bestowed upon me. I am grateful for a principal who took a chance on me six years ago when there were others who were more qualified than I to teach at her school. I am also extremely thankful for teachers who invested their time and talent in me as a young child and I consider it an honor to be doing the very same thing for those that I now teach. Until next time...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kindergarten Pow Wow

Today was a big day in the life of a Kindergartener at Chets Creek!

Our annual Pow Wow was held under clear skies with abnormally warm temperatures. The day began with an outdoor ceremony hosted by Chief Red Cloud, Chief Jumping Frog and Chief Sing-Um-Song (that would be me!) Eight Native American tribes were represented. They performed tribal dances, sang Native American songs and tried their hands at drum-playing, food-tasting and symbol writing. Story-telling took place in the Great Tepee and a scavenger hunt was enjoyed by all. Chief Chets Creek shared his hunting and game-trapping skills with our youngsters and gave them an opportunity to try smoked venison too!

Chief Beat-Um-Drum (Miss Lambros) and I spent the day in the Tribal Music Center teaching the "Canoe Song" to our youngest learners. They can now tell you the meaning of the word, "keen" and can explain what it means to "dip, dip and swing."

Creating life-long memories for our children is part of our design. Pow Wow is one of those memories that will certainly last a lifetime. Until next time...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Midtown ArtFest Performance

It was such a privilege to be a part of my students' lives today as the Chets Creek Recorder Club performed at the Midtown ArtFest in Jacksonville. They were true professionals and they played so beautifully! Our program opened with "When the Saints Go Marching In," "Amazing Grace," Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and we closed out the performance with a sampling of holiday music.

Nineteen children and their families gave up their Sunday afternoon to participate and I could not have been more proud of them! We are so blessed at CCE to have parents who are committed to the education of their children. Parental involvement is vitally important to a child's success in school. PARENTS - I tip my hat to each of you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Until next time...

Miss Lambros' Senior Recital

My intern, Samantha Lambros, fulfilled one of the requirements for her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education degree last night by presenting her Senior Recital at the University of North Florida. The recital hall was filled with family, friends, faculty and fellow students - many of whom had never before attended a French Horn recital!

Miss Lambros was responsible for choosing the music on the program, hiring the musicians that accompanied her and rehearsing the program in preparation for last night's performance. She played several concerto movements by W.A. Mozart, a lovely piece entitled "Romance in F" by Camille Saint-Sains and two duets for French Horn, also by Mozart. After intermission, we enjoyed the third movement from "Quintet No. 1 in B flat minor" by Victor Ewald and the evening ended with a Canadian Brass arrangement of the "Suite from Water Music" by George Frideric Handel.

Of all the brass instruments, the French Horn is the most difficult to play and Miss Lambros made her horn "sing" beautifully last night. It was an honor to be in the audience, enjoy the concert and support her efforts. Until next time...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Recorder Club Performances

In my post dated Wednesday, September 9th, I expressed my sheer delight in 20 students taking part in an afterschool Arts enrichment program known as the "Chets Creek Recorder Club." I had 10 very dedicated and talented students in our inaugural group last year and was pleasantly surprised to see that our numbers had doubled this year.

Miss Lambros and I have been working diligently after school with these students. We donate our time on a weekly basis to ensure that they have quality instruction and plenty of one-on-one help. We also provide music that is challenging enough to stretch them as young musicians.

Their first public appearance is Sunday, November 15th at 2:30 p.m. at the "Family ArtFest and Salute to the Troops." This festival is a 2-day event in historic St. Nicholas near downtown Jacksonville. A film crew from Douglas Anderson School of the Performing Arts will be on-hand to shoot a documentary and a portion of the proceeds will be used to further Arts education in Duval County Public Schools. We are privileged to have been invited to perform by the District Music Office and are happy to support this endeavor.

Next month, our holiday series begins. On Tuesday, December 1st, we will perform at the Beaches Senior Center in Jacksonville Beach from 9:15 a.m.- 9:45 a.m. On Wednesday, December 2nd, we will take part in the Holiday Fest at the Jacksonville International Airport. Our performance begins at 10:30 a.m. in the atrium upstairs near the food court. On Thursday, December 3rd, the group will perform at the TownCenter Mall at 6:30 p.m. in the open space near Cantina Laredo. As a service to our second graders at CCE, the Recorder Club will play pre-show music in the lobby for all performances of "Once on a Housetop" December 8th and 10th.

I hope you will be able to join us for one of these performances. Until next time...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Arts Integration Class - A Success!!

On October 28th and 29th, I presented a workshop at the University of North Florida which focused on music methods for the non-musician. The students I taught are studying to be elementary school teachers and must incorporate the Arts in their classroom instruction. A few of these students had private music lessons as young children, but the majority of them were non-musicians. I was asked to provide them with songs and musical activities that would inspire children and engage the learner in a musical way.

I hauled instruments for them to play, I took my guitar and armed myself with lots of simple, singable songs that anyone can teach. We practiced vocal inflection with a slide whistle, we enhanced a book entitled "Froggy Learns to Swim" with rhythm instruments, we acted out the "Butterfly Cycle Song," we learned to play an ostinato on the drums while singing a Nigerian song, we compared a note tree to a pizza (lesson comparing note values and fractions) - we crammed as much as we could into two hours and forty-five minutes of class time. Curriculum integration was the key and a fun time was had by all!!

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Until next time...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kindergarten Lesson

In my post dated, October 14, 2009, I shared my lesson plan for what is commonly known as the "Teacher Assessment Instrument" or "Employee Evaluation." I opted to use a kindergarten class and build on what they were already studying in their classroom.

Our kindergarteners have been working with nursery rhymes to gain a better understanding of phonemic structure, blending/segmenting sounds, rhyme scheme, and early comprehension skills (characters in a story). I used a nursery rhyme that was originally published in England in 1842 entitled, "Lucy Locket." Only one student was familiar with this rhyme.

My lesson covered multiple musical concepts including pitch-matching, intervallic relationships (solfege), creating a melody map, working with unfamiliar text, vocal inflection and crescendo/decrescendo. This may seem like a lot for kindergarteners to assimilate in one 40-minute lesson, but when sequenced and presented properly, learning happens.

Please take a look at the following video. This video captures the highlights of the lesson in the order in which they were presented. It will also provide you with a glimpse into my classroom so that you can see the depth of instruction our youngest learners are receiving. Feel free to leave me a comment at the end of the post.

Kindergarten Lesson from athby tamburrino on Vimeo.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure"

Yesterday, at 9:00 a.m. in 54-degree weather, you would have found my sister and I dressed in matching running gear, surrounded by a sea of pink and waiting for the Susan G. Komen "Race for the Cure" 5K to begin. This race is held each October and proceeds from the race are used to support breast cancer research. We were going to run it last year, but I ended up in the hospital two weeks prior to the race. My doctor would only allow me to walk it, so I never actually got to run it - until yesterday. My goal was twofold - to run the entire race without stopping and to complete the 3.1 mile run in under 45 minutes. I was successful on both counts! My unofficial time was 42:17 and I ran all the way to the finish line where my family was cheering and snapping photos like paparazzi. I couldn't believe it!!
Since I have never been athletic, this was an amazing feat for me. My husband is a former cross-country runner who has been sidelined with an injury for over a year. He was beaming as I crossed the finish line and could hardly believe what he had just witnessed! Maybe next year, we can all run it together!! It was a great day for a run and a great opportunity to take part in a community event that was meaningful and family-oriented. Until next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Teacher Assessment Instrument (Employee Evaluation)

About this time each year, my principal places a clipboard outside her office with instructions for every teacher in the building "to sign up for your observation." With 90 faculty members at Chets Creek, this is a daunting task for a principal. She must pre-conference with each teacher, observe a lesson taught by the teacher and follow-up with a post-conference once the observation has been completed. It takes numerous weeks for her to see everyone in the building!

I usually choose to show my work with the intermediate students (grades 3-5) because these students are more mature and have well-developed musical skills (playing instruments, keeping a steady beat, clapping in unison, singing in an ensemble, reading notation, etc.) that are not necessarily well-developed in younger children. This year, however, I decided to take a risk and invite my principal in to observe a lesson taught in kindergarten (she was formerly a kindergarten teacher and understands the nuances of teaching young children). My pre-conference is scheduled for Monday, October 19th; the observation is scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd and my post-conference is scheduled for Friday, October 23rd.

The lesson I will be teaching involves multiple concepts including pitch-matching, steady beat, lyrical rhymes, expressive elements (crescendo/decrescendo) and reading solfege (intervallic relationships between notes) accurately. The poem I have chosen to use in this lesson is an old English Nursery Rhyme entitled, "Lucy Locket."

Please view the following slide presentation to get a better glimpse of what will be presented during the lesson.

I will teach a mini-lesson for 15 minutes at the front of the class and then transition to the back of the classroom for the application portion of the lesson. The learning is applied by playing a game of "hide the penny." Each student will have the opportunity to try to find the penny, but must pay attention to the expressive elements being sung (crescendo/decrescendo) for clues as to who has the penny. If our voices grow louder as we sing the rhyme (crescendo), the student is getting closer; if our voices grow softer as we sing the rhyme (decrescendo), the student is moving farther away from the person to whom I have given the penny. It's a great way to engage the children while teaching multiple concepts without them even realizing it.

Until next time...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's "Young People's Concerts"

Each year, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra hosts its "Young People's Concerts" for elementary-age students in Duval County Public Schools. The concert is free and the district pays for transportation. This concert series is a gift from the Orchestra to your children.

On October 30th, Chets Creek Elementary will fill ten school buses and head downtown to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Every fourth and fifth grade student will get to experience a "live" performance by our very own symphony orchestra. Our second and third graders will make this same trip in the Spring.

This Fall's program is entitled, "Music of the World" and it is designed to engage students in active listening as they solve "The Case of the Stolen Tuba." We will visit Austria (Mozart's birthplace), Italy (Rossini's birthplace), New York City (Gershwin's birthplace), Hungary (Brahms' birthplace) and Ukraine (Tchaikovsky's birthplace.)

Educational materials were sent to us at no charge to prepare the students for the program. The materials are arranged in a "Mission Impossible" format with musical examples from each composer presenting various clues to solve the mystery. In Mozart's "Overture to the Marriage of Figaro," the students listen for a tuba in the performance, however, the tuba had not yet been invented. As we move on to the country of Italy, we hear the overture to "The Barber of Seville," listening also for a tuba in the orchestra. (No tuba yet!!) The next piece we hear is "An American in Paris" by George Gershwin. Students are instructed to listen for the jazzy elements in the piece. They discover that there is a tuba scored for this piece, however, the JSO can't play it without their missing tuba. Then, it's off to Hungary where we tune into "Hungarian Dance No. 6" by Johannes Brahms. Lots of brass instruments are used in this dance piece, but the tuba in our orchestra is still missing. Finally, our program concludes with the fourth movement of "Symphony No. 2" by Tchaikovsky. Students hear all of the instrument families in this piece which is "grand, bold and majestic." And...there could very well be evidence of a tuba in this performance!

Miss Lambros has been leading our "Super Sleuths" around the world trying to locate the perpetrator of this crime. Our students are greatly enjoying this integrated study of Music, History and Geography. Mrs. Tamburrino will be chaperoning this field study and will do a follow-up lesson upon our return.

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Workshop - Arts Integration Classes at UNF

As you know, I have a music intern this Fall and my official title is "Directing Teacher." My intern also has a Supervising Teacher at the University of North Florida. Her name is Dr. Georgina (Gigi) David. Dr. David is a visiting Professor of Education at UNF and is overseeing several interns at Chets Creek this semester. Dr. David visits four times during the semester to observe Miss Lambros' progress.

Additionally, Dr. David has asked me to present a workshop at the University of North Florida at the end of October. I will be teaching curricular integration to her Arts Integration classes. The students in these classes are non-music majors but must include musical activities in their classroom once they become certified to teach. I have been asked to help them find their singing voices, keep a steady beat, use literacy to teach musical concepts and present culturally diverse songs for use in their classrooms.

This will be my first experience teaching at the university level and I am eagerly looking forward to the opportunity. Check back in a few weeks! I'll let you know how it went!!

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DATA: Arts Education and Graduation Rates

At our district music educator inservice last month, a PowerPoint presentation was shared with us that validated what we, as Arts Educators, have known all along. A longitudinal study of high school students who took at least one year of Fine Arts credit were more likely to graduate with their cohort from high school. The more Arts credits taken, the higher the numbers across the board.

The data show that cumulative GPA's were higher, SAT Math and Verbal scores were higher and FCAT Reading, Writing and Math scores were higher for those students who were engaged in Arts Education all four years.

Please take a moment to look at the slide presentation below. My thanks to Mr. James Perry (Florida Music Educators Association) and Mrs. Paula Thornton (Instrumental Supervisor, Duval County Public Schools) for permission to use this PowerPoint presentation.

Let me leave you with one is up to us to do that which is right by our children.

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Once on a Housetop"

Our second grade students have begun rehearsing a brand new musical this year entitled, "Once on a Housetop." This program will debut on Tuesday, December 8th and Thursday, December 10th. This is the first "live" performance experience for many of these students and it is one they will remember for years to come.

As we celebrate the holiday season, you'll join a group of chimney sweeps as they dance across the rooftops of the city and discover all the different ways that families celebrate the winter holidays...from the candles of Hanukkah to bright pinatas, from a baby born in a stable to the uplifting message of Kwanzaa...and don't forget that big red fella in the chimney!

Our second graders will impress you with their stage presence and musical talent. We hope you'll plan to join us!

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rockin' Recorder Club Begins

The 5th Grade Recorder Club began rehearsing yesterday with 20 students showing up for our first after-school rehearsal! It was so exciting to see so many fifth graders volunteer to take part in a musical enrichment activity that requires additional study outside the classroom.

The purpose of the Recorder Club at Chets Creek Elementary is two-fold. The first is to allow the students to complete the "Recorder Karate" program they began last year and test out of the music through "black belt." The second is to provide a more in-depth learning environment for them to take their recorder playing skills to the next level and showcase their talent in our community. The criteria for membership in this club is 80% mastery of the recorder in 4th grade, including note-reading skills, rhythmic-reading skills, playing with a good tone on the instrument, having a good attitude and a willingness to practice at home.

Last year, the Chets Creek Recorder Club played at several venues around town including the Jacksonville International Airport's "Holiday Fest," "Chets Creek Night" at BJs Wholesale Warehouse Club and they provided pre-show music for all second grade performances of "Paint the Town December" at school.

It is with great anticipation that we begin a new season of recorder study which will enhance student learning and prepare them for music performances during their middle school years.

Until next time...