Friday, December 28, 2012


Have you heard about the dance fitness craze called "Zumba?" My sister teaches Zumba at a local gym.  Toby Mac raps about Zumba in Mandisa's "Good Morning Song." Every gym worth its weight offers several Zumba classes during the week.  Zumba is hot!

Since we had a lean Christmas this year, I decided to use what I already had and expand my horizons at my local gym.  A lot of the fitness classes that are offered on a daily basis are offered while I am at work so I printed a schedule and considered which classes I would try over break.  I chose three very different fitness classes - Spinning, Boot Camp fitness and Zumba.  I thought Zumba would be fun because I have an aptitude for music, I love to dance and I enjoy Latin dance music.  Let's begin with the Spinning class....

If you're not familiar with Spinning, you are in a darkened room with music blaring on a specially-designed bike for uphill and downhill riding.  The class I took was at 5:45 a.m. and lasted 45 minutes.  I wasn't sure I would enjoy this experience, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to do some interval training and get ready for my day.  I rode 16 miles in 45 minutes and am not sure I will ever attempt this fitness activity again.  I guess I'm actually a beach-cruiser kind of gal.  I live in Florida and it is flatter than flat in my part of the state.

Next, I decided to try Boot Camp fitness.  This class is designed to help strengthen your frame and build flexibility with a little cardio thrown in for good measure.  The instructor of this class was a track star who is trying to turn pro.  She did 45-minutes with us, trained local firefighters for an hour thereafter and then did her track workout.  Need I say more? I opted for 5-pound weights and a step at medium height.  The abdominal work we did on the mat which was placed on top of the step was killer, but she complimented me on the strength of my abs at the end of the class.  I told her it was probably years of singing and deep breathing...

And then there was Zumba.  The first class I attended was taught by a substitute.  This girl didn't have one ounce of fat on her body but she did have a very thick foreign accent and more energy than I have ever had on any day in my entire life.  If you weren't sure what to do, she would stand in front of you as if she were a mirror and model what you should be doing.  If you weren't kickin' it, she'd let you know that too.  She had a great sense of rhythm, which I appreciated, and got my heart-rate up where it needed to be for a great cardio workout.  I liked her.  I would go back and take her class again.

Today, I decided to try another Zumba instructor just for fun.  This one reminded me of a Puerto Rican hoochee-momma.  She knew every lyric of every song in Spanish.  She clicked and crowed every ten seconds and rolled her tongue like only a Spanish-speaking individual can.  I salsa'd, samba'd and cha-cha'd my way through an hour-long class.  I moved portions of my body I never knew could move in that way.  (There's a reason why three out of the four girls in my family were given dance lessons as young children.  I was not one of them.)  I had the most fun watching one lady in the back who was fully clothed in workout gear and did nothing but stand spread-eagle in the back with her hands waving in the air the entire time.  I'm not sure if she was praising God or worshiping Mother Earth, but she wished us all well at the end of the class and I assume she will return to repeat the experience next week.  It's probably best that this class is offered while I am at work.

I learned a lot about myself over the course of this experience.  First of all, a 52-year old can't move like a twenty-something, slippery shoes with orthotics in them work best for Zumba fitness and I can pump iron with the best of them, when called upon to do so.  I hope you've enjoyed your time off.  I certainly have.

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Landfill Harmonic

In His Word to us, God promises to make "beauty out of ashes," both in us and through us.

The students of Favio Chavez are accomplishing this and more...

I am humbled and have come to realize just how blessed I am at my school.

Until next time...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sad Day at Sandy Hook

How does one respond to what transpired a week ago in Newtown, Connecticut?

While we were enjoying our annual visit with Auntie Claus, terror was visiting a small elementary school up north and we felt it thousands of miles away.  How do you bury your child after such a senseless act of violence and move on? How do you show up for work in an elementary school after the horror you have witnessed? I do not know.

What I do know is that even though we are currently on holiday break, my principal has put out a "call to arms" for all faculty and staff before our return in January.  Emergency plans have been re-tooled and I have a new security assignment as of January 2nd.  I have always felt that our school was a safe place to learn (and work), but who is really to know?

My heart goes out to everyone touched by this tragedy.  I have prayed for the families of those who lost loved ones.  I have prayed for our own safety at work.  I have read information provided to me by my superiors so that I can adequately address this subject with my students, should the need arise.  Although I do not feel equipped to try to make sense of a tragedy of this magnitude, I will do my best to provide comfort and emotional support wherever needed.  My heart aches for students, teachers and administrators who must report for duty knowing that it could happen again at any time and in any place. But for the grace of God, there go I...

Until next time...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Winter Concerts 2012

This week was a banner week for me.  Having conducted SIX programs myself last week, I decided to enjoy several of my colleagues' music-making this week in the spirit of the season.  

On Monday evening, I attended the Fletcher Middle Band Concert.  I was invited by a former student. This kid took his recorder study very seriously.  He stopped by my classroom almost daily to share his progress with me throughout his entire 5th grade year.  The most interesting thing about this is that I don't teach recorder in fifth grade; only in fourth.  As if on cue, he dropped by Chets Creek two weeks ago and informed me that he was currently playing the trombone in the middle school band and wanted me to come to his concert.  I e-mailed his band director to get the particulars regarding his performance and wrote it down on my calendar. I was determined to be there.  Most of my students feed to Kernan Middle School, and I was so proud to see that I had a tuba player, several flute players, numerous saxophone and clarinet players and a percussionist  - TWELVE in all in the Fletcher Middle band!  Approximately 30 students headed to Fletcher last year from Chets Creek; almost half of them are in the band.  I was blown away.

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Kernan Middle School Winter Concert.  I was blown away again!  THIRTY-FIVE of my former students were scattered among the numerous performance groups that played and sang that night.  There was a beginning band, a concert band, a jazz band, a chorus and a recorder ensemble.  Some of them were pulling double-duty playing instruments from completely unrelated instrument families in more than one ensemble. The energy in the room prior to the performance was so strong you could feel it.  Administrators, teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings - you name it - filled the room to capacity. The best part is that this program has only been in existence for a little over a year.  The musicians on the stage were so professional in the way they presented themselves and in the way they performed.  I was deeply honored to be sitting in the audience.

On Thursday evening, I attended my third "Winter Concert" of the week at LaVilla School of the Arts.  My niece and two former students sang in the 6th grade treble chorus and it was fabulous.  I could hardly believe that a sound so pure and so clear was being produced by a group of 11-year olds who just began their journey at LaVilla four months ago. I was also surprised by the sheer number of performance groups housed in the vocal department.  There are so many, they have to divide the concert in half.  Last night, we saw Act One. Tonight, Act Two will take the stage and all vocal students must return to support their peers and write a critique of the performance.  It was such an amazing experience, I can't wait to return for their spring concert!

Amber and Katie
Vocalists Extraordinaire!!

Until next time... 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Season of Hope

'Tis the Season for holiday musicals in my corner of the world.

Yesterday, I conducted four programs (two dress rehearsals and two performances) of our multi-cultural holiday musical entitled, "December in Our Town."  There is one song in particular that grabs at my heart every time I hear it, conduct it or listen to these children sing it.  It is entitled, "Season of Hope."  The musical was written by Roger Emerson and this is one of the finest songs he's ever written.  It speaks to all of us at some level.

For our Season of Giving project this year, we partnered with The Grocery Fairy ( to collect non-perishable food items for needy families in our learning community.  The Grocery Fairy made an appearance last night at our performances and encouraged everyone to give generously.  She asked folks to shop at markets where they have "buy-one-get-one-free" programs and deliver the "free" item to one of her donation boxes at the school.  It doesn't cost your family anything extra to participate in this food giveaway and it is our sincere HOPE that she will need a van to haul the food away before we leave for holiday break.

I have two more performances to conduct tomorrow and I am certain that the tears will flow once again as my students sing "Season of Hope."

Wishing you a HOPE-filled Christmas this year.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pow Wow 2012

POW WOW....the annual event that draws hundreds of people to our campus, a cold snap (this year it was rainy AND cold) and takes us back to our early days in North America by celebrating those who came before us.

The day begins outside with an authentic gathering of tribal people (kindergartners) dressed in full regalia representing eight different tribes.  They perform tribal dances, sing "Dancing Song of the Skunk" and "Sunset" and listen to a story about the Timucuan Indians who roamed North Florida several hundred years ago.  We do our best to make the day as authentic as possible and it is one of those Chets Creek traditions that is not to be missed.
Chief Chets Creek, Chief Jumping Frog, Chief Sing-Um-Song

Once the outdoor ceremony has finished, each kindergarten class rotates through various centers experiencing Native American culture.  They practice symbol writing, play clay bingo, listen to the story of the "Three Sisters" in an authentic tee-pee, play tribal games, paint with natural dyes, learn the "Canoe Song,"  enjoy a Native American Artifacts experience and taste food that would have been eaten by the locals at that time.
Chief Sing-Um-Song teaching "Canoe Song"

The kindergartners that participated this year will return as first graders to watch next year and return again as fifth graders to assist our newest crop of kindergartners with their Pow Wow.  And so the tradition continues....

Until next time...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

LaVilla Side-by-Side 2012

My Saturday mornings are usually spent at the grocery store, doing laundry or cooking up food for the impending work week.  However, today I spent the morning with four of my students in a music-making opportunity especially designed for them.  My fourth-graders were exposed to some wonderful music, an extremely talented clinician and an opportunity to learn from more advanced students who currently attend two of our Arts magnets in Duval County, Florida.  The purpose of this workshop was to build musicianship skills in the elementary students.  Sight-reading several pieces of music was a critical component in the exchange between the students and the clinician.

There were approximately 120 students from 15 elementary schools around the district in attendance at the "LaVilla Side-by-Side" workshop today.  Each 4th/5th grader was paired with a music mentor from LaVilla School of the Arts or Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.  They worked together in rehearsals this morning and performed together for their parents and teachers at the conclusion of the workshop.  The sound that Mr. Pendry was able to evoke from this young group of singers in just a few hours of rehearsal was simply amazing.

As I reflected on the accomplishments of the morning, I was taken back to my days in elementary school.  I'm talking forty years ago, folks, and there were no arts magnets in Duval County at that time.  Had there been, I would certainly have pleaded with my parents to take me there.  What an incredible opportunity for these young musicians to work side-by-side with more advanced singers.  I love the concept and hope it will continue for many years to come.

Mr. Shawn Pendry and Mrs. Theresa King did an excellent job of organizing this event and I was so glad my students could take part in it.  It was definitely a morning well-spent!

La Villa Side-by-Side 2012 on PhotoPeach

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Music Teachers and Boy Scout Badges

Sometimes as a music teacher, I am called upon to do the most interesting things.  I was recently approached by one of my students who is working on a Boy Scout Badge.  He asked if I would be able to help him choose five tasks from a list of options so he could complete the requirements for a music badge.  After looking over the list, he decided to handle three of the five on his own but he needed my assistance with two of them.

Our first project was to build a home-made musical instrument.  He decided on a rainstick.  I provided all of the materials and he did the work.  He said it was "really cool" and that it came out "really good."  The second project was a bit more difficult and required some instructional time in the music room.  Flashback to "Conducting 101."

This young man is highly motivated and has an eagerness to learn, so I asked him if he wanted to conduct in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4.  His response was 3/4 time.  We tried a Strauss waltz, but it was too lengthy and the conductor had invoked so much "rubato" in the recording that the beat was somewhat obscured.  This was not a good choice for my budding maestro.  In a flash of brilliance, I thought about "America" or "My Country 'tis of  Thee," as it is sometimes called.  I had recently completed a patriotic unit in first grade and the materials were easily accessible.

I explained what a 3-pattern should look like, I modeled a 3-pattern for him and then I placed a baton in his hand and he mirrored my conducting pattern for the duration of the song.  We worked on our entrances and exits, holding the final note and cutting off at the appropriate time.  (It's much harder than you think!!)

Mini lesson - Conducting a 3-pattern

Cue Words - "down, out, up"

The Cut-Off

I sent Maestro Chase home with a rehearsal packet and cannot wait for him to return with his music badge.

Until next time...

**Epilogue - Very Cool!!**
Success!! (December, 2012)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ear Plugs

I live in a world of "surround sound."  For six hours a day, five days a week, I am surrounded by little people immersed in a world of sound.  Sometimes it's the sound of singing.  Sometimes it's the sound of musical instruments.  Sometimes it's the sound of voices conversing LOUDLY in the dining room.  I have had colleagues tell me that they would leave school everyday with a migraine if they had to do my job on a daily basis.

To be honest, I don't usually get migraines, but my sense of hearing is definitely a curse.  I tell my students that my ears are extremely sensitive; that I have "musician's ears."  I cannot work with ambient noise; I must have complete silence.  (I've been up since 4:00 a.m. because it's quiet and I can think better at that time of the day, although the dryer is driving me nuts!).  When people sing or play out of tune, it causes me physical pain.  When I allow my recorder students to "blow the bejabbers out of that thing" on Day One, I plug my ears.  I spend two hours every Wednesday doing dining room duty with ear plugs inserted in my ears.  People laugh at me.  I don't care.  I need my ears to do my job.

Currently in my classroom, my ears are being subjected to 5th graders composing on barred instruments, 4th grade recorder students learning to manipulate their mouths, air flow and fingers to produce a pleasing sound on their instruments, 3rd grade enhancing a folk song with Sound Shape drums and Boomwhackers, 2nd grade attempting to sing in 2-part harmony (a very painful experience), 1st grade learning to match pitch with their voices and finally, Kindergarten singing in a foreign tongue as they learn their songs for Pow Wow.  My ears are over-stimulated all day long, along with my brain.  (Did you know that you hear with your brain and not your ears? That's a post for another day.)

I keep a bag of ear plugs in my purse and in my desk at school.  Yesterday, they came in very handy.  I have a recorder student whose hearing must be more acute than mine.  He cannot tolerate any sound produced on that instrument without being brought to tears.  At our last class meeting, I moved him to the back row, thinking that would make a difference.  He cried through the entire class.  He came to class yesterday and I placed him on the back row again, however this time, I gave him a set of handy-dandy ear plugs to use.  He had never seen ear plugs, much less used them.  After a mini-lesson on the the art of using ear plugs, he now has his own personal set in a sandwich bag labeled with his name on it.  The bag will remain in my classroom until the end of the school year and I may have to make him a t-shirt that says, "I Survived 4th Grade Recorder Class with Mrs. Tamburrino."

Ear plugs.  A necessary ingredient in my "Recipe for Success" this year.  The absolute worst thing that could ever happen to a musician is for him to lose his sense of hearing.  It happened to Beethoven and I can't allow it to happen to me.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Soft Drink Tune"

When asked to brainstorm various names of soft drinks, most kids can come up with 3-4 of their favorites very quickly.  This is how we began our lesson entitled "Soft Drink Tune."  I needed five specific names of soda - Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Seven Up and Dr. Pepper - to teach the poem.  If they didn't come up with all five, I added them in to complete the task. It was also necessary to use the full name of Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper so that eighth notes could be used in addition to quarter notes that were used for Mountain Dew.

Coca-Cola,       Pepsi-Cola,       Mountain Dew                        
So-So-So-So     So-Mi-Re-Do     Mi-Re-Do

Coca-Cola,      Pepsi-Cola,        Mountain Dew                            
So-So-So-So    So-Mi-Re-Do      Mi-Re-Do

Seven-Up,       Doctor Pepper too                                          
La-La-So;       La-La-La-La-So

Coca-Cola,      Pepsi-Cola,       Mountain Dew                           
So-So-So-So    So-Mi-Re-Do     Mi-Re-Do 

I can't take credit for all of this creativity.  I borrowed this lesson from Jay Broeker who presented it at a North Florida Orff workshop several years ago.  The tune is also borrowed from Gunild Keetman's "Erstes Spiel am Xylophone," Page 9, Number 12.  

The lesson objectives include rhythmic reading (ti-ti, tah and quarter rests), ear-training (I ask them to explore the pitches on the xylophone in C-pentatonic.  They must figure out the pitches used in the melody), ensemble playing (once they've figured out the melody, they must all play it together), music vocabulary (main idea, contrasting idea, cadence) and finally, composition (they must write a poem using their favorite soft drinks, create a melody using the pitches C, D, E, G, A and choose rhythmic patterns that align with their text using eighth notes, quarter notes and quarter rests.)

Exploring the possibilities

Student Worksheet - parameters for the assignment;
Sample of original poem and rhythm provided

Form of composition

Building their composition

Student Work - Sample 1

Student Work - Sample 2

The lesson is highly complex and will require several class meetings to finish, but your students will be building musicianship and developing critical thinking skills throughout the process.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

KMS Pep Band

On Monday, September 17, I was a very proud "mama" for two reasons.....

First of all, my youngest son is playing football for the Kernan Middle School Ospreys!

Secondly, many of my former music students from Chets Creek were playing in the Pep Band at the opening football game of the season!

The football team won its first game 28-26 and the band played like they've been playing together for many years.  (We're only four weeks into the school year and this is their second year of band instruction).

Almost 14 years ago, I birthed my second child.  Approximately 9 years ago, I began "birthing" little musicians who have matriculated through elementary music and are now maturing and honing their craft at the middle school level.

As I sat in the stands on Monday, I could not have been more proud!!

Kernan Middle School Pep Band

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bistro Tamburrino is Open for Business!

Being a foodie most of my life, the theme this year could not have been more exciting to me! My principal is a brilliant woman who enjoys creating an opening day that will linger in your mind and heart for days to come.  Yesterday was one of those well-planned, well-executed and extremely fun sort of days for me.

I love to cook and I love to eat what I cook. This year's theme is "Recipe for Success" and boy, did we cook up some fun in the Chets Creek Kitchen yesterday.  Visiting chefs whipped up little appetizers for us, we played games like "Guess That Spice" and even made our own lunch - pizzas that were cooked in our school cafeteria ovens.  It was a great kick-off for what I hope will be a great year at the Creek.  Enjoy the photos :)

Recipe for Success on PhotoPeach

Until next time...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Professor Tamburrino

For the past two semesters, I have been teaching an integrated arts class at the University of North Florida.  This is a required course for all early childhood education majors.  This course is designed to teach pre-service teachers how to integrate the visual arts and music into their core curriculum.  It is very "hands-on" and includes multiple opportunities for students to teach integrated lessons to their peers.

Last week, a student was presenting a lesson integrating music and social studies and began by placing a small animal on the document camera.  This particular animal hails from the continent of Africa and I had never been "up close and personal" with one.  Can you guess what it is? It is one of the characters in Beatrix Potter's children's stories.  (The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle)

Professor Tamburrino and Cooper

Yes. It's a hedgehog. I'm not much of an animal lover, but this little guy stole my heart.  I am told that they don't allow the exportation of hedgehogs from Africa any more, but there are breeders here in the US.  If you've never felt one, they feel like a hairbrush made of boar bristles.  He was a very busy little creature and I could barely contain him long enough for a photo (very much like my youngest son).  He and Cooper would have been great friends!

I must say that a "hook" for a lesson doesn't get much better than a "live" animal!!  As the lesson progressed, we learned about shekeres (African shaker) and made one out of a covered pie tin with beads inside.  It was a beautifully integrated lesson, complete with hedgehog.

We have had a blast this summer creating, singing, dancing and learning together.  I am privileged to teach our next generation of teachers and hope they will "carry the torch" and include arts integration in their own classrooms for generations to come.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Arts Integration - Math/Music

Each spring, I teach a lesson in first grade using a simple rhyme entitled, "Cobbler, Cobbler."  When you mention the word "cobbler" in the south, everyone's mind automatically moves toward apple, peach and blackberry cobbler.  It's a southern tradition, especially in the summertime.

However, this "cobbler" is different.  The "cobbler" in this lesson refers to a vocation, not a dessert. Most elementary-aged students don't have a clue what an old-fashioned cobbler does and I get to teach a social studies lesson in addition to an integrated math and music lesson.

The following video provides a peak into my classroom as I scaffold a lesson from the bottom up.  I lay the foundation beginning with pitch-matching; then add the steady beat. Next, I teach the rhyme, layer in the melody and then we apply the learning in the back of the classroom using play money at the cobbler's shop.

This is one of my favorite lessons to teach each year and the students enjoy the opportunity to show off their math skills in music class.

Many thanks to Mrs. Foster's first grade class and to Mr. Trey Vollmer of Vollmer Video for his work on this project.

Until next time...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Let's Sing, America!

Last fall, one of my third grade teachers approached me and asked if we could find a musical that aligned with the social studies curriculum in third grade.  I told her I would certainly try.  She wanted one with patriotic songs in it and I was ready to produce something new.

After researching our options, we settled on one entitled, "Let's Sing, America!" It included folk songs and patriotic songs every kid in America should know.  The dialogue also included fun facts about our national symbols (the Statue of Liberty, the bald eagle, the flag, etc.)  Last week, 215 third graders presented "Let's Sing, America!" to the student body during the school day and again in the evening for their families.  It was a smashing success!!!

Understand that I have produced many musicals over the years, but this one was something special. Since the performances last week, parents have stopped me in the grocery store, at a pool party and at a swim meet to tell me how much they enjoyed the performances.  I have heard nothing but compliments and accolades from folks young and old.  My office has been inundated with hand-written thank you notes from students.  I opened my mailbox at home today and there were two postcards from school signed by 72 students and their teachers thanking me for my help with their production. So many people worked on the production and I am grateful to each and every one.  It was truly a collaborative effort and I couldn't be happier with the results.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kernan Middle School Band

Four years ago, Kernan Middle School was stripped of its music program.  KMS is my feeder school and that news was heartbreaking for me.  When you build a musical foundation in a child during their formative years and send them off to middle school, your hope is that they will choose to continue their music studies during their adolescent years.  If there are no options for them to do so, you lose an entire generation of potential band, chorus and orchestra students.  There is no time to teach beginning band, chorus and orchestra at the high school level.  The students must enter 9th grade prepared to further their studies, not initiate them.

My teacher certification in the State of Florida is K-12, which means I can legally teach music courses in any of these grade levels and any of these disciplines.  I am certified to teach general music, band, chorus and orchestra, however, I do not feel I am qualified to teach in several of these disciplines.  If a principal chooses to remove a program from its offerings, the ramifications of his/her decision are felt for years to come.  This is analogous to removing pre-algebra, algebra 1 and algebra 2 from the middle school curriculum and expecting the student to be able to perform on grade-level without the prerequisite coursework in math when he reaches high school.  It is ludicrous to think a student can be successful without the proper preparation during the middle years in academics, elective courses (art and music) and sports.

Four years ago, this principal's decision to remove course offerings in music education at KMS became my personal crusade to get them re-instated with the new principal.  I worked tirelessly for three years.  Every time a former parent of mine e-mailed or called me asking why there was no music program for their child, I asked them to contact the principal.  I conversed with music supervisors at the district level.  I met with the current principal on several occasions.  I talked with band directors, teachers, students - you name it - and the results were astounding!

After three years of silence in the band room, the newly re-instated Kernan Middle School Band and Jazz Band came to my school to perform yesterday as part of our Cultural Arts Week.  I had the privilege of hosting their very first road trip and it was a huge success! The tireless efforts of their director, Mr. James Justice, their principal Ms. Kathy Kassees and the parents of 55 band members culminated in a concert that was artistically and musically better than any beginning band concert I had ever attended.  As I listened to the group rehearse prior to the concert, I was overcome by emotion and began to weep.  The tears were unstoppable as I listened to their sound and watched the professional behavior of these students.  A majority of these students were my former students and it was a magical musical moment for me.  I don't always get to experience the "fruit of my labor" and it was evident that the new program at the middle school has been a worthwhile investment in the lives of our children.

On Tuesday, May 8th, I will be present at their spring concert to show my support.  My heart is full today because of what I experienced yesterday with these students.  Bravissimo, Mr. Justice! Bravissimo!

Kernan Middle School Band 2011-12

Singing "I've Got Rhythm" with the Jazz Band
Until next time...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weill Music Institute "Link Up" Program

Next month, I will load 10 school buses with 2nd and 3rd grade students from Chets Creek Elementary and take them downtown to the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts where they will experience a "live" orchestral concert by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.

In preparation for this field study, the Weill Music Institute (Carnegie Hall, New York City) sent us educational outreach materials for our students, free of charge.  These booklets provided musical scores to read, an orchestral instrument review activity and several songs for us to learn prior to the concert on May 16th.  An audience sing-along will include "Simple Gifts" by Aaron Copland, "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig van Beethoven, "Going Home" (a spiritual based on the largo movement of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" and "I Bought Me Cat" by Aaron Copeland.

I have been working diligently with my students to prepare them for this concert experience.  For most of them, this will be their first symphonic concert and I want it to be something they will always remember.

Thank you to Paula Thornton, Tony Kamnikar and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for coordinating this event for our elementary students each year and to Duval County Public Schools for providing bus transporation for our students at no cost to us.  Many thanks to the folks at Carnegie Hall for providing us with educational materials through their "Link Up" series.  We have thoroughly enjoyed them!!

Until next time...

Bobby McFerrin and the Pentatonic Scale

A colleague of mine sent me this video clip and I was stopped in my tracks by it! Bobby McFerrin was demonstrating the power of the pentatonic scale visually, aurally and kinesthetically - all at the same time!!

It was extremely fascinating to listen to an audience sing a pentatonic (5-tone) scale on the spot with no prior instruction! I presume they had no idea what Mr. McFerrin was doing (initially, he had to coax them to sing), but they were able to follow his lead using their eyes and ears.

The audience members he used to demonstrate this musical scale were attending the "World Science Festival" (2009).  These were not musicians; these were scientists, which made it even more fascinating to me.  I recognized several of the panelists on the stage behind Mr. McFerrin from a PBS special I had seen entitled, "The Music Instinct: Science and Song."  Daniel Levitin  (world reknown musican/neuroscientist) was up there along with several of his neuroscientist colleagues.  Check this out....

In early childhood music, the pentatonic scale is used all over the world to teach simple songs to children.  It is the foundation on which the Orff Schulwerk method is built.  Powerful implications here...

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Denise Ashlynd visits CCE

About a month ago, I was in the midst of a 3rd grade musical rehearsal when I realized that my students were singing so well, someone other than myself needed to experience it.  After thinking through my options regarding whom I might call at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, I settled on my sister in New York.  She is a professional singer/actress/dancer/commercial voiceover talent-type person and I knew she would appreciate the beautiful music-making that was happening in my classroom that morning.

I grabbed my cell phone and asked if she had a minute; I had some students that wanted to sing for her.  My students sang the song for her and she squealed with delight at the quality of their performance.  She was hollering things like "That was great!!"  "You rocked it!!"  "That was my favorite part!!" 30 days....

Denise came home for Easter break and asked if I thought my students would like to meet her.  I arranged for a visit at my school and brought the class back in to sing their song "live" for her.  They were so amazed that the person they sang for over the cell phone a month ago was now standing in my classroom. 

Denise Ashlynd - singer/actress/dancer/voiceover artist

What a neat opportunity for my students!!  Thanks to all who made her classroom visit possible.  We could not have done this without your assistance!!

Until next time...

The Power of Music

“Music is an essential part of human experience and fundamental to human existence.  It can soothe, move, inspire, heal, unite, stir us to action and, as some teaching experts now suggest, even improve our learning capabilities."  R. Phyllis Gelineau

"In an instant, music can lift our soul. It awakens within us the spirit of prayer, compassion and love. It clears our minds and has been known to make us smarter." Don Campbell - author of "The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind and Unlock the Creative Spirit."

Music is a powerful, soul-stirring art form that can breathe life back into us. 

Go ye, therefore, and sing-play-dance!!

Until next time...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Barnes and Noble "My Favorite Teacher" Contest

Today was a great day in my little world!

My principal completely shocked my socks off at our flag-raising ceremony by announcing that one of my students had entered an essay in the Barnes and Noble "My Favorite Teacher" Contest and won! Her essay was chosen as the winner in the elementary category and we were both presented with gift cards to Barnes and Noble Booksellers this morning.

Katie's essay was selected from approximately 60 elementary student entries.  Her essay will now move on to the regional competition.  The regional competition (Southeast US; approximately 120 stores) will be decided on or before April 17th.  If she takes it at the regional level, then it's off to the national level which will be decided on or before May 2nd.  This is all very exciting and we can't wait to see what happens next.  Stay tuned...

Katie and I

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Beat Boxing Made Easy

A colleague of mine shared this link with me.  If you're a "beat box wannabe," this is the site for you. 

Create your own beat box and add various effects, whistling, harmonies, etc.  Even a technophobe like me could do it!

Have fun with this!!

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Composition Assignment

At the conclusion of our unit study on melody, I ask my 5th grade students to compose a 4-measure piece of music following these compositional rules:
  • Your piece must be in Common Time and in the key of C-Major
  • You may only use the pitches C-D-E-F-G
  • Your piece must be no more than four measures long
  • Your piece must begin on the tonic, move to the dominant by the end of the first line; begin on the dominant and move back to tonic by the end of the second line
  • You may use whole notes, half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes (and their corresponding rests)
  • You must give your piece a title that reflects the character of the composition
The students are given 25 minutes to complete the assignment.  They work in cooperative groups of 2-3.

At the conclusion of our class period, I play the "world premier" of their composition on the piano.  Some students are paralyzed by this assignment; others take it and run with it.  Students who study piano privately are the best-equipped to handle the task.

Nathan performed the piece written by he and Noah
It was entitled, "The Jumping Song"

Until next time...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beat Boxing on a 'Cello

I have never encountered anything like this.  A stringed intrument is hard enough to play, much less play and "beat box" simultaneously.  Simply amazing!

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Integrated Arts Course

You may not know this, but on Monday evenings when I leave Chets Creek, I put on my Superhero cape and am instantly transformed into "Professor Tamburrino - Teacher of College Education Majors and Arts Integration Guru."  Actually, I have to call upon folks who are experts in the field when it comes to instruction in the Visual Arts.  I do not consider myself an artist, however, I have a great appreciation for beauty and a love of all things artistic.  Last night, Mrs. Jennifer Snead - Visual Artist Extraordinaire - came to my rescue and provided a fabulous workshop for my students at the University of North Florida. 

Her topic was "Illuminated Manuscripts of the Middle Ages" - an integrated lesson that tied the Visual Arts in with Language Arts and Social Studies.  She showed a video to explain the process from making parchment to embellishing handwritten manuscripts with pure gold.  It was awesome!  I have provided the link below in case you are interested in learning more about the process.
(It takes about 60 seconds to load before it will play)

My students were given the task of creating an illuminated letter.  They were to use one of their initials and draw symbols around it that represented something about themselves.  Gold paint and metallic markers were used to "illuminate" their initial which was then glued onto a piece of wallpaper and mounted on black paper.  The results were stunning.
Mrs. Jennifer Snead

Discussing a family crest with a student

Working on their letters

Third Grade student samples from Chets Creek Elementary

One of my students' pieces

Jennifer, you are an amazing educator and I owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. Thank you!!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Edutopia: Opening Minds Through the Arts

If only this were true everywhere.

Until next time...