Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kindergarten Drumming Update!

On Friday, March 12, Kindergarten students were treated to a live Taiko drumming performance by Taiko Masala of Brooklyn, and many students drummed with the three performers as well!

Japanese taiko drums have been developed into a wide range of percussion instruments that are used in both Japanese folk and classical musical traditions.

Taiko, in general, are stick percussion instruments. With the exception of the kotsuzumi and ootsuzumi, all taiko are struck with bachi. They have heads on both sides of the drum body, and a sealed resonating cavity. Taiko are also characterized by a high amount of tension on the drums heads, with a correspondingly high pitch relative to body size.

Our last drumming unit will focus on Balkan and Bulgarian drumming and musical practices, with a performance for students on April 12!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Théâtre pour Enfants - "Douce France"

Here are the lyrics to "Douce France," performed by Charles Trenet in recording below. You'll notice the lyrics that follow are those of the chorus, the section of the song that we will be singing. Enjoy!

Douce France
Cher pays de mon enfance
Bercée de tendre insouciance
Je t'ai gardée dans mon cœur!
Mon village au clocher aux maisons sages
Où les enfants de mon âge
Ont partagé mon bonheur
Oui je t'aime
Et je te donne ce poème
Oui je t'aime
Dans la joie ou la douleur
Douce France
Cher pays de mon enfance
Bercée de tendre insouciance
Je t'ai gardée dans mon cœur

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Vois sur ton chemin

Students in the 2/3 and 4/5 choruses, as well as those in the second grade French dual-language program have been learning "Vois sur ton chemin," composed by Bruno Coulais and featured in the film Les Choristes. Below you will find a recording of the song, as well as lyrics. Enjoy!

Vois sur ton chemin
Gamins oubliés égarés
Donne leur la main
Pour les mener
Vers d'autres lendemains

Sens au coeur de la nuit
L'onde d'espoir
Ardeur de la vie
Sentier de gloire

Bonheurs enfantins
Trop vite oubliés effacés
Une lumière dorée brille sans fin
Tout au bout du chemin

Sens au coeur de la nuit
L'onde d'espoir
Ardeur de la vie
Sentier de la gloire

Monday, March 8, 2010


Although the primary purpose of the K Drumming Unit has been to expose Kindergarten students to the various percussive instruments, rhythms, and songs that exist within the three cultural spectrums we have been studying, it has also served as an opportunity to introduce visual musical concepts, that is, an ability to make a connection between what the student hears, what the student plays, and what the student sees.

In order to do so, we use the Kodály method of basic rhythmic instruction, a syllabic system in which note values are assigned specific syllables that help students differentiate between shorter and longer note values. Below are examples of student compositions created in "beat boxes" which help emphasize the ways in which rhythm and beat correspond. Each line of four boxes represent one four beat measure (in 4/4), in which students are asked to place their choice of the quarter note (ta), the quarter rest (sh), two eighth notes (ti-ti), four sixteenth notes (ti-ka ti-ka), and most recently, the half note (two-oo), which they learn must be written on the line in between two beats that can contain no other note value, as one half note fills up two beats.

These compositions are then performed through song and percussive instrumental play as solos and as small ensembles. Here's a look at some of what we create in our "beat boxes"!

This student's composition is an example of the beginning activity, in which students use only quarter notes (ta) and quarter rests (sh).

Here, students learn to "cut" their ta box in half or into four, resulting in either two eighth notes or four sixteenth notes. For the time being, we refer to them as only "ti-ti" and "tika-tika".

In the next step, the concept of the half note is introduced as a note value that lasts for two beats, placed on the line that joins two beats in the measure. We learn that no other note value can be placed in those boxes, because they are already "full."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Newsletter

Lower Grade Music Newsletter: March, 2010

Dear P.S. 58 Families,

February has been quite the busy month in Lower Grade Music, as well as in both extended day choruses. I hope everyone enjoyed the snow days! On Friday, February 12th, Kindergarten students we treated to an Afro/Brazilian drumming performance, during which time students participated in song and movement as audience members, and some on stage as drummers with the performance artists! Thanks again to all of the parents who assisted with this project.

Here’s a look at what’s happening throughout the month of March.

Kindergarten: As mentioned above, the Afro/Brazilian performance marked the end of the Afro/Brazilian section of the K Drumming unit, which means we are now studying Japan! Through March 12th, Kindergarten students will be studying the art of Japanese Taiko Drumming as well as Japanese culture through song, movement, and literature. On Friday, March 12th, Kindergarten students will be treated to a Taiko Drumming performance by the Taiko Masala Troupe of Brooklyn. Remember that updates and information about this program can be found right here on the blog.

First Grade: First grade students have been making connections between what music sounds like and what music looks like, expanding their knowledge of music theory using the Kodaly system. Using “beat boxes,” students create, perform and interpret their own compositions, with special focus on the quarter note (ta), eighth note (ti-ti), sixteenth note (ti-ka ti-ka), quarter rest (shh), and most recently, the half note (too, pronounced toowoo to emphasize the two beats). These compositions are then performed individually and in ensembles on percussive instruments in class.

Second Grade: Students in second grade have also been studying the connections between aural and visual music, with an emphasis on understanding the difference between beat and rhythm. Students will use percussion instruments in groups in order to do so, with the goal being to understand the concept of polyrhythms, which will help prepare us as we begin to experiment with two-part vocal lines in upcoming songs.

Please remember to check for up-to-date information regarding what’s happening in your child’s music classroom, and that you can always feel free to contact me with questions or concerns at

-Mr. C