Sunday, September 7, 2008

Welcome to school!

I hope everyone's had a great start to the school year! It has been a little overwhelming having my first new school year in two units at once (not to mention my own daughter starting Early School)... but it really helped that LS specials and MS electives didn't start until week two. I was able to hop around both units during the first week of school and get to know everyone a little better. A big surprise for me was that in the Lower School, I'm now part of Forest class! Fortunately, long-time Forest teachers Michael and Amanda are there to help Lisa and me learn the ropes. In the Middle School, I especially enjoyed our day at Camp New Hope. The day included a beautiful Meeting for Worship in which the first-years, most of whom I know from last year in the LS, were matched up with their new fourth-year mentors.

This past week saw the start of music classes in both units. Here are some highlights of our week:

In the Lower School, we had fun echoing each others' silly rhythms, played name games, and decorated name sticks that we'll use throughout the year for a number of activities. We also learned the chorus of a song that distills each of the six points of the CFS philosophy into easy-to-remember words. I've put the words to that song below, in case you'd like to try it at home (or use it as a cheat sheet when anyone asks you what makes CFS so special)!

Forest and Mountain classes learned about the connection between rhythm, focus, and tossing beanbags. We took the first steps toward a major project for the year... learning to juggle! Doesn't sound very musical? More on that in an upcoming post...

My biggest project in preparation for my first year in the Middle School was to clean and organize the Music House. Though some of that was less than pleasant, it was well worth the effort to uncover all kinds of goodies from music teachers past! Thanks to all the teachers and students who offered help--especially the students who signed up for the Theater Improv Games playshop, only to find that our first game was moving large cardboard boxes to the recycling dumpsters in the style of criminals running from the law.

It's great to see all familiar faces in this trimester's First Year Music Rotation. This week, we discussed the definition of music (not as simple as it might seem!), listened to a variety of music from other cultures, started learning to juggle (with the lofty goal of 3 balls by November), learned a silly round (see below), and had our first drum circle.

Chamber Choir is an advanced choir, an audition-only follow-up to Matthew and Ida's wonderful Middle School Chorus last Spring. Auditions were held during the first week, and we have eight wonderful singers. This week, we went through some possible repertoire and started learning two songs--"The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and a beautiful a capella arrangement of "How Can I Keep From Singing." On request from our singers, they'll be receiving audio recordings of their parts to help practice at home. 3- and 4-part harmony is challenging stuff!

Finally, Worlds of Music is my 7th period introduction to world music. Music of other cultures is a real passion of mine, so I am very excited to be teaching this class! In our first meeting, we recorded our personal reactions and observations of ten completely different pieces of music from ten cultures, then learned how a person from that culture might experience the music. Then we came up with a definition of music that can transcend cultures. I am pleased to report that we will be able to start our big project--creating a world music wiki--next week in the library computer lab!

Now the words to the two songs mentioned above:
Round to the tune of the famous Tallis Canon, used by MS 1st-year rotation. The words are supposedly based on an actual gravestone:
Here lie the bones of lazy Fred, who wasted precious time in bed.
Some plaster fell upon his head and Lord be praised our Freddie's dead!

And, the chorus to the song the LS learned this week:
Silence, peace, simplicity
These are the things that we believe
Equal in spirit, each one of a kind
We search for the truth as Friends in the light.
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