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Welcome to Amanda's Class

Amanda IgraWelcome to the Music Classroom!

This year we will dance, sing, and play instruments to our favorite songs, both new and old. I look forward to inspiring a love for music in your children through lots of silly fun and laughter. The ability to sing well or to play an instrument is a lifelong skill that when introduced early, can become a relaxation outlet, a way to connect with other people, and a sense of pride and self confidence. As the year progresses, please do not hesitate to contact me with any musical questions you may have!

Amanda Igra

Amanda Igra

B.S. Environmental Science, University of Michigan
The Children’s House experience

May 25, 2017

We may be wrapping up the year, but we are certainly not slowing down! We are rehearsing for Grandparent's Day, and the children are all very excited!

Last week, we learned about the composer Camille Saint-Saëns. We listened to his "Carnival of the Animals," which is a beautiful piece with many movements. Each movement is named for a different animal, and we had a good time discussing each movement and why it sounds like the animal it was named for.

We have also been learning the words to "God Bless America," certainly an important song I am sure you can remember learning in school as a child.

I have been giving the students the opportunity throughout the year to sing a solo or play an instrument they take lessons on for their classmates, and quite a few of them have been taking me up on the offer lately.

We have also been playing our ukuleles of course. Songs vary by class, but some notables include "Puff the Magic Dragon," "Dynamite," and "Hooked on a Feeling."

I am excited to see everyone at Grandparent's Day. Stop by and chat if you have a moment, and I can give you some tips on supporting your child's musical interests over the summer.

May 11, 2017

In the extended day, we have been having a great time singing and playing! We are singing lots of fun songs like "Polly Wolly Doodle," and "Oh Susanna." We have been diligently practicing our Grandparent's Day song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," on the ukulele as well. We have also been playing some favorite circle games. The students love to play "Charlie Over the Ocean," which gives each student the opportunity to sing a solo. Singing solo is one of the best ways for children to develop their singing voices, and I encourage it as much as possible. We also play "Chase the Squirrel," which is like a duck duck goose chasing game, and "Little Sally Walker," a singing and spinning game.

In the elementary, we have been playing the ukulele almost every week! I get questions occasionally from parents about ukulele practice. Students should practice what they are learning in class each week. If they did not remember to take their chord sheet home, you can always email me and I will send one to you! We learned about chord progressions, and applied our new knowledge to play over 20 songs with the same progression. We have also been working on reading music, and playing the xylophones. Students should be able to sight read a simple piece of music and play that line of music on the xylophone.

In the Junior High, we have been continuing our harmonica studies, and have been working hard on "Twist and Shout." The students are sounding very good!

I want to be able to communicate as much information as possible to our school community, because I know you all want to read, and see, AND hear what we are doing in music class! Beginning next year, I will be starting a blog for our music program that will include pictures, sheet music, and videos so that you can be included in the fun! Look out for a link to this in the fall.

April 13, 2017

In the extended day, we have been very busy! We have been working hard on our Grandparent's Day performance. The students will be singing "Let It Be" and playing their ukuleles for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Next week we look forward to two very special guests who will play ukulele with us! In all the extended day and elementary, we have been learning about Passover, eating Matzo, and learning a Passover song, "Dayenu."

In the lower elementary, we have been watching Mozart's "Magic Flute." This is a special new tradition in its second year. The children absolutely love opera, and I love them for that! We have been watching it in installments so that we can also prepare for May Day, the Talent Show, and Grandparent's Day. The elementary will also be singing Beatles songs for Grandparent's Day. The talent show is coming up this Friday, April 14 at 1 pm. Come join us for some fun acts!

In the Upper Elementary, we have been working on ukulele, and learning a very common chord progression, the I, V, vi, IV progression, which you can read more about here. Using this chord progression, we have been able to play 21 songs, including "Don't Stop Believing, Cheerleader, Cheap Thrills, Take Me Home Country Roads, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and Hall of Fame," among others.

In the Junior High, we were lucky to have Greg Seaman, a local musician and teacher, join us to lead us in a group harmonica lesson! The students have been reading Echo, which features a boy who plays the harmonica. We learned several songs, and had lots of giggles and fun.

March 9, 2017

In the extended day, we have been working on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The ukuleles have all been tuned to open C (GCEG tuning) and so this song is very easy for the children to play. I hope they are practicing at home! We have been enjoying circle games lately, this week we learned "A Tisket A Tasket" and a chasing circle game to go with it. Last week we learned "Little Sally Walker" and a spin game to go with. Circle games are a great way to learn a new song, and for students to internalize rhythm. Because they are moving or marching on the beat, they are able to feel the beat fully. We have been learning about Michigan's rich history of logging. We learned a fun song called "Roll Loggers Roll," and we read the legend of Paul Bunyan. In the kitchen, Kristina made Lumberjack Molasses cookies with students, and taught them about logging marks. We have also been doing some melodic improvisation which is so much fun! Many people would say that music writing and improvisation is the highest form of musical thinking, and so it is something we want to encourage!

In the Lower Elementary, we have also been having lots of fun with circle games. In addition to the two previously mentioned games, we played "In and Out the Window," "Who Will Be My Valentine," and "The Muffin Man." You can see some videos of these games on the Music Instagram account. We begin almost every class with vocal exploration, and I use a variety of tools like the slide whistle. This warms up the students' vocal muscles and allows them to easily access their head voices. We have been learning some folk songs as well, notably "The Old Gray Mare." Musical notation was introduced this month, and students are learning about clefs, accidentals, and rhythms. We also played musical chairs, which was a BIG deal and so much fun! I like to play music like the Pata Pata (Miriam Makeba) and Ran Kan Kan (Tito Puente). It is a good way to introduce new styles of music, and many of the students were dancing so hard to these songs! Definitely worth adding to your playlist at home. We have chosen our songs for the upcoming Grandparents Day event, and they will all be Beatles songs this year. Hopefully you are hearing some of these songs at home!

In the Upper Elementary, we have been focusing on ukulele and playing every week. I gave all students the chord chart to "Let It Be," and we have been playing in class. I have asked each student to practice at home, and if you need a replacement chord chart (or you want your child to add a new song to their repertoire), please email me! It is very easy for me to send music. I talked to the students about my recent trip to Phoenix, and my trip to the Musical Instrument Museum. I saw many interesting Native American instruments and I showed the students a video of the Northern Cree tribe. You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE2cuZCs4Vc

This is the same video they played at the museum, and I got a chance to show off my pictures of the cool drum they are playing in the video! We have also been listening to a lot of the Beatles in music class, the students are working on "Come Together," and "Love Me Do." 

February 9, 2017

In the elementary and extended day, we have been learning about music's historical role in social gatherings. We read Dance At Grandpa's, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and we learned a folk dance to accompany the story to the song, Old Brass Wagon.

We have also been working on keeping a steady beat with hand clapping games and our ukuleles. We worked on keeping a steady beat on the C chord to the song "Can't Stop the Feeling." Speaking of ukuleles, meany of the students have had the chance to make ukulele picks out of milk cartons. I love when music and art projects are able to intersect! We have also been working on our pre-conducting skills with a fun mallet game. It is so important for young musicians to become good at following the conductor, so that we all stay together when playing a song.

In the upper elementary, we have been playing many different songs on the ukulele. Students in the UE are more comfortable with changing chords, and have many song options to choose from. We also had a fun time playing "Alabama Gal" on the xylophones. Each student was given their own, separate part to play, and all of the parts came together to form a really impressive sound!

The rock band is hard at work, and has 6 songs under its belt. We are looking forward to the visits of some community member volunteers to help us further develop our sound. If you are a musician, or know a musician who would like to help out by observing the rock band and sharing some tips, please let me know!

December 1, 2016

The winter season is upon us, and I would like to tell you all a bit about instrument care. Your child's ukulele is sensitive to extreme temperatures and humidity. Due to the cold temperatures we will be seeing, it is important to not leave your ukulele in the car or garage during this season. Extreme temperatures will warp the wood and ruin the instrument. I never leave any of my instruments in the car, for any length of time.

We have been working hard on our songs for the holiday singalong, and the students have been busy singing, choreographing, and making decorations.

In the primary, we learned a new song, "My Aunt Came Back" I hope you have an opportunity to hear this silly song at home! We have also been connecting music and movement with our game "Fast Land and Slow Land."

November 10, 2016

We had a great time listening to our talented friends from the TC West drum line last week. The students (some TCH alumni in the group) came dressed in Halloween costumes, and gave us all a laugh. Looking ahead, we are excited for our highly anticipated Levi Britton concert, which will take place on 11/18 at 10:30.

The children have finished constructing their Cuicas, and hopefully they had a chance to bring them home to share with you! In the Upper Elementary this week, we discussed silent films, and the way live music was added to them, often by a pianist or small orchestra. We watched a portion of a Charlie Chaplin film, and added our own music, which was a lot of fun!

The primary has learned to read music this week, which is always an exciting development! We have also been learning about Johannes Brahms. The students really like Brahms because he famously carried candy around in his pockets to hand out to neighborhood children!

The Holiday Singalong preparation is underway, and you may be hearing some of these familiar melodies at home!

If you are looking for some family friendly musical fun, TC Central HS is putting on Beauty and the Beast. This show will always have a special place in my heart, because I performed the role of Belle in my high school's production of the show. Look for TCH alum Chloe Ammond and Edmund Petty in Central's production!  Ticket information is here!

October 27, 2016

We have a lot of projects going on in music class! In the primary, we are learning a new chord, the G chord. I look forward to our first extended day ukulele "jam party" on Friday 10/28. We are using this G chord to learn "Jingle Bells." We are also learning about Bach and Chopin.

In the lower elementary, we have been making beautiful tags for our ukuleles. I didn't realize at the beginning of the year what a challenge it would be to have 50 ukuleles in identical cases! Now that we can easily identify everyone's instrument, it will be much easier to pass them out at the beginning of class.

The Upper Elementary and the Junior High are hard at work making Cuicas, a type of Brazilian friction drum used in Samba music that makes a squeaky sound.

The guitar section of the rock band has now completed 1500 scales, and I am so proud! Scales are important because they are the building blocks of music. They build muscle dexterity, intonation, and help solidify an understanding of music theory. You can see their progress on the giant scale chart in the music room

October 13, 2016

We have been hard at work on our ukuleles, and adding new songs to our repertoire. If you have any questions about your child's ukulele, please feel free to contact me!

In addition to our instrument practice, we have been learning about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as well as a few songs in Hebrew. It is always so much fun to share my language and culture with your children.
The band has completed their first song, and is moving on to our second, "Can't Stop the Feeling" from the Trolls movie. I am so proud of their hard work!

If you are looking for musical events to experience with your family, The City Opera House is welcoming the a cappella group Vocalosity on Thursday, 10/13. You can find the link here https://www.cityoperahouse.org/vocalosity. The Traverse Symphony Orchestra will also be performing Frankly Mozart on 10/23. We have been learning about Mozart and Beethoven in class this month

September 29, 2016

Music class has been off to a great start! We are getting the hang of bringing our ukes to class and learning some new chords! We have been learning the C chord (stickers on your child's ukulele in red) the F chord (purple) and the G chord (blue). We have been using these to play songs like Happy Birthday, You Are My Sunshine, and Riptide. I hope the children are sharing their new knowledge with you at home!

We had a wonderful performance last week by folk singer Amanda Egerer. Amanda shared folk songs from many areas of the U.S., as well as other countries, like Portugal.

The rock band is hard at work learning our first song, a cover of a Levi Britton song. The guitar section has committed to practicing 10,000 scales this year. You can see our progress on the scale chart in the music room. Come in and cheer them on!

In case you are looking for something musical to do with your whole family, our friends at West Senior High are performing You're A Good Man Charlie Brown this weekend. It is a great show for kids, I encourage you to check it out!

This page last updated on 5/23/2017.

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tch_icon.pngThe Children's House - An Independent Montessori School
5363 N Long Lake Rd. | Traverse City, MI | 49685 (p) 231.929.9325 | (f) 231.929.9384 | email: learn@traversechildrenshouse.org