Family Folk Song and Dance Project

An exciting opportunity for 2nd grade families!  Be on the lookout for this form in your child’s backpack.

Not a 2nd grade family this year and are interested?  Feel free to write a song or dance down anyway and have your child bring it in.  Nothing is better than sharing these traditions with your family and I’d be honored to hear them, too.

Throughout the year, students have been learning songs and dances from various cultures as part of their music education.  So far, we have explored folk dances from Canada, England, Ireland, Russia, Serbia (Yugoslavia), China, Bulgaria, Israel, Turkey, France, Australia, Former Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, Mexico, Hawaii, Tahiti, and the United States.  We are always adding to our repertoire!

This Spring, we are looking forward to strengthening our community through discovering more about the cultural heritage of our classmates through folk songs and dances.  These are native to a culture or community and are usually passed down by oral tradition. Folk songs and dances are an incredibly important part of a culture’s heritage as they are rich with history and expression.

If you are interested in taking part in our project, please share any song, dance, fingerplay, clapping game, or lullaby with your child that you remember from your childhood.  Time will be given in class to have interested students share these songs and dances with their peers.  If you do not have a song or dance to share but would like to include your cultural heritage, please feel free to just provide that information.

Thank for your interest in our special project and I hope you enjoy these musical moments with your family!

Wintergatan Marble Machine

Some classes were really excited to see this beautiful combination of music, engineering, and physics.  We had some great discussions of what the musician needed to keep in mind when building this machine (it took him 14 months!) and what things we could try to include if we built a musical machine.  STEAM conversations are so engaging!


Happy New Year!

In honor of Chinese New Year, students have been dancing, creating, and listening to some great music from China.  We danced Diu Xie, 4th graders are creating chinese dragon pieces, and classes have been excited to hear and see some beautiful traditional instruments.  We saw a couple minutes of the clip below in class, but many students have been interested in hearing more.

Please feel free to listen as a family!

Masterpieces of Chinese Music: A Musical Performance by Music from China

Instruments included here are the “erhu and related two-string fiddles, pipa (lute), zheng (long, plucked zither), ruan (moon guitar), and yangqin (hammered dulcimer).”

3rd grade recorders

3rd grade families,

Have you heard that the WPS music curriculum will now including recorders in 3rd grade?  We are so excited to introduce this instrument earlier in hopes of allowing students to achieve strong foundational knowledge and skill in the second half of 3rd grade, which will be continued throughout the 4th grade.  This will open up many more opportunities for students and allow us to cover many more concepts while using the instrument as a tool in our learning.  Recorders will not replace any of the other learning tasks in the elementary general music classroom, but will be an exciting new level in our creative choices.

Did you know…

  • One of the oldest wooden recorders ever found was a Renaissance descant recorder in Holland believed to be from the 14th century?  14th century recorders have been also found in Germany.
  • Recorders were popular in England and Europe between 1300 – 1800?
  • Renaissance recorders were quite loud?  Softer baroque recorder were common solo instruments in the 17th century and faded out of popularity in the 1800’s because they were too soft to be heard along orchestral instruments.
  • Modern transverse (side-blown) flute had taken over the music traditionally played by recorders by the end of the 1800s.
  • The English King Henry VIII (1491-1547) played the recorder?
  • Many famous composerswrote music for the recorder, including H. Purcell, J. S. Bach, G. Telemann, Antonio Vivaldi and G. F. Handel?
  • The Beatles, Jethro Tull, and other pop groups have used recorder in their music?
  • The recorder has been used in film scores such as The Lord of the Rings (2001) and Tales From Earthsea (2006)?


Students have been so interested in listening to and discussing the music of the acapella group, the Pentatonix.  We were amazed to hear what these five members can do with their voices.  Here’s one many students asked to hear.

Classes also loved hearing the differences between Tchaikovsky’s original celeste/bass clarinet melody and this incredible arrangement by the Pentatonix.  Their arrangement of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” was just nominated for a Grammy award for best arrangement.

Many students have been asking for more from this group!  We’ll hear some more from them in the future, but if you’re interested in hearing more sooner, they have a great webpage and a YouTube channel (PTXofficial) with lots of great arrangements.  For internet safety, I asked students to have an adult assist them if they wanted to explore.  Watching together also gives families a great chance to hear this amazing music together.  Videos were viewed distraction-free in class using ViewPure.


On the First Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-owls-2015On the First Thanksgving

Pilgrims knelt to say,

“Thank you for my food and friends,

Thank you on this day.”


3rd grade students took this poem and decoded the rhythm.  They then used the C-Pentatonic (CDEGA) scale and improvised to this rhythm.  Once we found some melodies we liked, we wrote down the letter names. The result?  20 fantastic C-pentatonic compositions per class.  Visit any 3rd grade class to hear some of these beautiful works.

Ms. Anderson’s Class

Mrs. Kelly’s Class

Mrs. Breen’s Class

Ms. Brady’s Class

Musical Stories

IMG_9307Have you seen the new music section in the Nab library?  I am thrilled to see so many book checked out and being shared with families! There are lots more songtales and musical stories in our Nab library purchased through an amazingly generous grant from the WEF.  Some of these are musical tunes and others are beautiful folk tales we’ll be using to create our own music.  Mrs. Loughman and Mrs. Whitehead can point to in the right direction if you are interested in checking some of them out.

Great news!  Mrs. Loughman is ordering some new copies of one of our favorites, Jennie Jenkins.  Check back soon!

If you happen to take out one of the  songtales by John Feierabend, don’t forget to look on the back cover for directions on how to download a free recording of the tune at home.

Please take a book or two home to enjoy with your family!

The Terrible Eek

Terrible eek5th graders have been hard at work learning about theme.  After studying Peter and the Wolf, we read Patricia Compton’s version of a Japanese Folk Tale, The Terrible Eek.  Students werte in charge of everything, including which characters deserved their very own theme and what that music should sound like.  Students then collaborated with other groups to create the music for the sections of the story that had character interactions.

Take a listen to all of the 5th grade recordings and see how each class made it work.  What are the similarities and differences in each recording?

Mrs. Wilkie’s class

Mrs. Faigels’s Class

Mrs. Pentedemos’ Class

Mrs. McCrorey’s Class

Caps for sale! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!

photo3rd graders have enjoyed reading “Caps For Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina.  We found some repetitive parts of the story, such as the order of the colors of the caps, the calling of the peddler, and the monkeys’ “tsz, tsz, tsz.”

We started our conversations by listening to different pieces of music and finding out which colors students thought best matched each piece.  We had many great ideas!  We found that music and art often share similar adjectives and used them to help us make connections.

Next, students chose a color and found percussion instruments that best matched each cap.  We then read the story again and listened to each group play along with their part of the story.  The book came alive through music!  We are excited to learn which instruments other classes will decide on for the same colors.  Check back soon for recordings!

Here are some of our ideas:























Jennie Jenkins

JennieNab students have enjoyed hearing John Feierabend’s new book, ‘Jennie Jenkins,’ in class this week.  Did you know that you can get a free recording of this song from Dr. Feierabend?  To learn more about the story and download for free, visit his page, Jennie Jenkins.

If you’re feeling creative, try to make up some of your own verses with a new color!

I hope you take the chance to have a fun musical moment with your family!

And we’re off!

Wow, so many musical moments in class already!  Nab students have singing, moving, and dancing while becoming tune-ful, beat-ful, and art-ful musicians.  Abbot students are learning about how instrument choice can enhance a story (3rd grade), participating in purposeful, creative moment (4th grade), and learning how theme can influence or change your opinions about a character in a story (5th grade).

Each week all classes learn musical concepts by dancing a folk dance from a chosen country.  Please ask your child about our dances each week.

This year, it is my turn to attend Nab for curriculum night on Monday, September 21st.  Please stop by and learn about the music curriculum.  Abbot parents, please feel free to email or call anytime with any questions you may have.

As always, it is my pleasure and joy to have the opportunity to be your child’s music educator.  Please always feel free to contact me with questions, private lesson instructor suggestions, or concerns you may have.


Mrs. Tietze

FAME Summer Scholarship

Are you interested in a summer music camp this year?  If so, hear how F.A.M.E. may be able to help you with your costs:

“In keeping with our mission to support music education programs in the Westford Public Schools,
F.A.M.E. (Friends Advancing Music Education) would like to encourage all music students to consider a summer music camp experience. We are pleased to offer financial assistance to a limited number of students entering grades 5-12 in Fall of 2015.

To be eligible for consideration, students must complete an application, which is available either in person from school music teachers, or on the F.A.M.E. website, or attached to this post.

F.A.M.E. has extended the Summer Music Camp Scholarship application deadline date until this Thursday, June 18.

F.A.M.E. will make awards based on past participation, current level of involvement, and future potential for contribution to Westford school music ensembles.

Students may scan completed applications and email to:

Students may also mail applications to the following: PO Box 627.”

Please see me with any questions!

FAME Summer Scholarship App 2015

Rumble in the Jungle

rumble3rd graders recently read Giles Andreae’s and David Wojtowycz’s whimsical book of poems, Rumble in the Jungle.  Each group created a musical presentation from a poem from the book or one they created one themselves.  Groups were interested to hear the creativity of other groups and were especially excited to hear how two groups could choose the same animal and have their work sound completely different.  Pleas take a moment to listen to the recordings from Mrs. Kelly’s, Mrs. Martinson’s, and Mrs. Conlin’s classes.

Well done, 3rd graders!

Band Instrument “Hands-On” Demo Night

3rd graders,

Are you interested in playing a band instrument next year?  If so, come to the Demo Night on Thursday, June 16th from 6-8pm at the Blanchard School.  You’ll get a chance to see which instruments are offered in 4th grade band and you’ll even get a chance to try them out!  Our band director, Mr. Kaminsky will also be there to answer any of your questions about the 4th grade band program.

Please consider coming by to learn more about the exciting band program.

You can also learn more at the elementary band page.

Happy playing!

5th Grade Camp: Talent Show

5th graders,

Do you love to sing or dance?  Do you play an instrument or perform magic?  Do you have a gymnastics routine you’d like to share?  If you are interested in sharing any of these or other ideas, please return a sign-up form to Mrs. Tietze or Mrs. Lanno by Friday, June 5th.  Please also review the guidelines to see what to bring and how to prepare.

We can’t wait to see what the Abbot, Crisafulli, and Day students have to share with all of us!


Folk Dance Night

Thank you to all of the 2nd Grade families at Nab that attended the Folk Dance Night.  What a fun time!  It was so wonderful to see families enjoying quality time together through music.  Thank you also for your excitement, support, and willingness to try something new.

Our dances last night were:

Les Saluts, Canada

Zemer Atik, Israel

Carnavalito, Bolivia

Sasha, Russia

Kukuvicka, Bulgaria

Alabama Gal, United States

I’ll be looking forward to next year’s Folk Dance Night in the Spring!

Music of the King’s Court

3rd graders had a wonderful opportunity to learn about early wind instruments today at the David Coffin presentation.  If you’re interested in learning more, please visit and explore some of his materials.

Also, 4th graders might be interested to learn more about Mr. Coffin’s free app, ACE Recorder.  It might be a fun way to add some excitement to home practice.  You can check your tuning, play along, and even compose your own music.


Beat Strip Compositions – 3rd Grade

Students created a 16-beat rhythm using quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests.  After completing their rhythms, they then used the notes CDEGA to create a melody with their rhythm.  Please take a listen to some of these compositions from Mrs. Kelly’s class, Mrs. Conlin’s class, and Mrs. Martinson’s class (coming soon).