PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Music Week of 11-28-16

Warm musical greetings to all of our wonderful BSI families! Now that we’ve eaten our Thanksgiving dinners, we’re officially on our way into the Holiday Season. Here’s what’s happening in the Music room:

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we focused on Native American music. Since rhythm was such an important part of their culture, we’ve been warming up to a movement chant called “Listen to the Drum Beat.” The kids get to walk around in general space and do what the chant tells them. They get to say “hello” to their neighbors, shake high and low, take a stance (freeze) and then “dance.” Except for the 16 bars of free style dance, they must walk to the steady beat of the drum throughout the chant. Keeping the steady beat is probably the single most important skill that musicians need to be able to do.

We also spent lots of time giving thanks through music.   We learned a Native American song called “The Earth is our Mother.” We discussed how the earth could be like a mother. A mother provides for her children. The earth provided for the first Americans by heating their world with the sun, lighting up the night with the moon, providing rich soil for them to grow crops, etc. Then we looked at Hap Palmer’s, “Things I’m Thankful For” and compared the two songs. Both are songs about giving thanks and being thankful. One comes right out and says “I’m thankful for the earth” while the other says “The Earth is our Mother.” One was written long ago and the other not so long ago, yet the message is the same. Be grateful.

In the younger grades, we made up body movements to help express gratitude as we sang “Things I’m Thankful For.” We even did some lyric writing and added a verse of things we were thankful for to the song. Kindergartners added a picture.

In grades 4-5, in addition to the song “The Earth is our Mother,” we learned “Simple Gifts,” which is a Shaker song that is associated with Thanksgiving. We watched a video of the Shakers dancing. We discussed their idea that something simple but well made was almost like a prayer to the Shakers and how their influence (Shaker furniture, for example) is still felt in our country today, even though Massachusetts is the home of the only surviving shaker community.

In addition to the Native American songs, grades 4-5 have been getting ready for their mini-concert at the PTO Meeting on Friday morning, December 16th at around 8:45am. So, in addition to finding out what’s happening at BSI, you’ll be serenaded! Be sure to mark your calendars and show up for that PTO Meeting!

Looking forward to seeing you tonight at Parent/Teacher Conferences!