5/6 General Music Middle School Chorus

Middle School Chorus ’14-’15 Sings “Round and Round”

Coincidentally “Round and Round” can be sung as a round! SO WE DID.

3/4 Grade 5/6 General Music Instrument Lessons Middle School Band

How To Use Your “Standard of Excellence” Band Method Book

Dear Band Families!

This Blog post is just for YOU! Whether your student has been playing for three years or is just beginning this month, the following information, tips, advice, and pleas are for you. When you get involved with your child’s music education you show them that music is something you value and that you support their efforts on this new adventure. Beginning an instrument is usually exciting, frustrating, and empowering; being able to share that experience with family is so important.

Every student is working out of a Standard of Excellence Band Method Book. Most of us are in the Red Book right now (Book One,) some will soon be moving to the the Blue Book (Book Two,) and by the end of the year, I anticipate some students will be moving into THE GREEN BOOK! 
My plea to you is this: Sit down with your child and look through this book. Ask them to explain to you how it works, with definitions at the top of the page, fingering charts that can look a little bit like hieroglyphics to the untrained eye, and different skills addressed on every page.
Here are some areas I’d like for you to notice:

1. When you open up the book, you’ll immediately see the PRACTICE JOURNAL. I would LOVE for students to use this and keep track of how much and when they are practicing each week. I will write their assignments in the designated spot as well.

2. The first few pages address setting up your instrument and CLEANING + CARING FOR your instrument. These are the first things I will teach my students, but reminders from  the family are SO important. Gross things grow in unclean instruments. Instruments are expensive, care for them so you don’t need to put more money into them.

3. Flip through the book and find songs that have a clapping part underneath the instrument part. You be the clapper, have your child teach you the rhythm, you clap while they play.

4. This book uses American Folk Music, and folk music from around the world. Chances are, you’ll know some of the songs. Sing them for your child. Teach them to sing it. If they can sing it, they can play it.

5. The back of the book has the FINGERING CHART. Help your child to find and use this resource. I will teach them to read the fingering chart. When they can learn to play new notes on their own, they can become independent learners, instrumentalists, and musicians. This is the end goal my friends.

Your child probably needs you to help him or her remember to practice. Help them find a place in your home free of distraction. It might seem daunting to offer help when they are practicing if you don’t know how to play their instrument, but use the resources in their method book, or just help them write down the questions they have so I can answer them when we see each other.

Your support will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

Thank you thank you thank you!

PS: If your child brought home a new method book this year it would be helpful to send in $7 for Ms. Kauffeld!

Instrument Lessons Middle School Band

What’s the Scoop with band Lessons? AND-Holly and Ms. K play another Duet!

Instrumental lessons can come in many shapes and forms. The great thing is that small group sizes (or individual lessons in some cases) make it easier to tailor the lesson to exactly what the student needs. For our very new instrumentalists that have jumped right into Middle School Band, the lessons serve as a great way to build our skills, work through the Standard of Excellence book, AND get help with the tricky parts of the band music. For students who have been playing for a few years we’ve been having fun playing duets.

Especially with students in their second, third, or fourth year of playing an instrument, I would like for band music to be worked on at home, your job is to work through the tough stuff on your own, if you have specific questions, that’s where I come in. Otherwise, my job is to help you achieve beautiful tone, play with expression, and improve your technique. Yes, we could do all those things by playing the band music over and over again, but wouldn’t be more fun to work on solo pieces, duets, and trios?

Here are Holly and Ms. Kauffeld playing a duet from the Standard of Excellence book called “Brother Martin.” It’s a Latin American folk song, but it sounds a lot like the German folk song, “Oh How Lovely is the Evening.”


1/2 Grade 3/4 Grade First Steps in Music Kindergarten Move It!

Move It! “Trois Gymnopedie” by Eric Satie

From John Feierabend and Peggy Lyman’s “Move It!”

All of our Folsom Kindergarten-Fourth graders will have done this by Tuesday Sept 23rd! Now you can do it at home-mirror my motions!

Thanks for your support!

Instrument Lessons Middle School Band

Holly and Ms. Kauffeld Play a Duet!

Instrument lessons are off to a great start!

5-8 Band Students are encouraged to leave their instruments at school from Tuesday until Friday, then bring them home for the weekend to practice. 

Here’s one of the things we worked on in Holly’s lesson today.
We played “Lullabye” a traditional duet found in the Standard of Excellence Red Book. 
This tune was helpful in practicing playing in 3/4 time, and playing low B natural. Holly also had some crazy jumping around in her part. (Ms. Kauffeld’s was easier, phew!)

1/2 Grade 3/4 Grade 5/6 General Music COOL MUSIC STUFF! Kindergarten Middle School General Music World Music


Remember last year when the South Burlington High School African Drummers came to perform for us?

They played those crazy things called “Adenkum” (Ah-Den-Koom) that are in actuality just hollowed out gourds!

Sent to us straight from Ghana, West Africa!!

AfricaGhanaMap copy

You might want to revisit my blog post about Master Drummer Sowah Mensah who spent time teaching at UVM (where I met him) as a visiting professor from Oberlin. I first learned to play Adenkum from Dr. Mensah and he is the reason I was able to buy Adenkum for our classroom! We only have 6 Adenkum right now, but if we can add a few each year we will ALL be able to play in class! For now we will rotate between the drums, Adenkum, and other traditional percussion instruments. Stay tuned for Adenkum, we’ll hopefully start in 5th and 6th grade this week! Ms. Kauffeld is SO SO SO EXCITED!
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1/2 Grade 3/4 Grade 5/6 General Music COOL MUSIC STUFF! Kindergarten Middle School General Music

Incredibox! Fun for ALL! (Especially Ms. Kauffeld.)

imagesI want to extend a HUGE thank you to a fifth grade student who opened my eyes to “Incredibox!”

Here’s the link:

You begin with an animated guy and by dragging on outfits you add different musical components that they’ve designed to interlock and sound REALLY good together until you’ve got yourself a song!
You’ve got Beats, Effects, Melodies, and Voices.
Ms. Kauffeld can’t stop playing with incredibox! Have fun!!!

1/2 Grade 3/4 Grade First Steps in Music Kindergarten Move It!

Move It! Waltz in A flat by Johannes Brahms

Movement for Form and Expression:

“These activities help children express the qualities in music through movement. At the same time, these activities also enable children to experience musical form through organized movement. The motions should be performed in the expressive spirit of the song or rhyme.” -Feierabend

With each “Move It!” students begin to understand the organization of movement sequence, explore personal and general space relating to others, and discover inner feelings connected to beautifully expressive musical selections and movements. Move Its! also explore the Laban Themes (soon to come in another blog post!)

Here is the first Move It! that we’ve done at Folsom this year, it is performed to Johannes Brahms “Waltz in A flat” by September 8th all Kindergarten through 4th grade students will have experience this Move It! 
Now you can do it at home! (Fun for the WHOLE family, Move Its! are being used in preschools and assisted living homes, they are for EVERYONE!) 

Pump up the volume and mirror my motions! 

Extra credit: Make a video of your child dancing to this and send it to Ms. Kauffeld to put on the blog!

1/2 Grade First Steps in Music Kindergarten Why Is Music Education Important?

First Steps in Music: John Feierabend Kindergarten-Second Grade Music Classes


The First Steps in Music curriculum is design to prepare children to become musical in three ways:

1) Tuneful– to have tunes in their heads and learn to coordinate their voices to sing those tunes.
2) Beatful– to feel the pulse of music and how that pulse is grouped in either twos or threes.
3) Artful– to be moved by music in the many ways music can elicit an emotional response.

John Feierabend, a music philosopher, teacher, and creator of “First Steps in Music” and “Conversational Solfege” two curriculums that we’ll be using at Folsom in grades K-6 writes this about First Steps:

All adults should be tuneful, beatful, and artful so they can participate in the music that is interwoven throughout their lives. Adults who are tuneful can sing lullabies to their babies, sing “Happy Birthday” to their children and friends, sing in worship services, and join others in singing ceremonial songs like alma maters or heritage favorites. Adults who are beatful can rock on the beat while singing that lullaby, dance at their weddings or at their friends’ weddings, and can clap their hands in time with others at a sporting event. Adults who are artful are moved by music and seek out venues to share artful experiences with others in concert halls, and in community bands and choirs or by listening to National Public Radio. Artful adults enjoy being moved by music.

When I first heard this I felt relieved. Finally I had found the words to express why I teach music. As you can see, preparing children to become professional musicians has very little to do with this philosophy. I think that is a misconception among some people that perhaps don’t see the value of music education in the public school. I am not teaching to the students who may continue to play in college and beyond, (though I am giving the necessary music foundation,) I am teaching to ALL students skills and practices that will enrich their lives no matter what their passions are. 

Feierabend goes on to write:

  • Adults who are tuneful, beatful, and artful are also better able to participate in a community and are able to enjoy opportunities to sing together with others, dance together with others, and share listening to beautiful music together with others.
  • Children who learn to be tuneful, beatful, and artful before they leave elementary school will grow to be adults who benefit from what music can offer. Those who go on to sing in choirs or play an instrument will do so in a more musical manner. Those who choose not to sing in choirs or play an instrument later will still be enriched by being able to share music in their daily lives.

I wanted to share these words with my Folsom families because I think it is important for you to know the why behind a Music Education. This is my Why. I might say I’ve adopted Feierabend’s philosophy, but I feel more comfortable saying that I’ve finally found the words to express my own philosophy. 

While this “First Steps in Music” Curriculum is aimed at Preschool through Second Grade, these same ideas of tuneful, beatful, and artful absolutely apply in grades 3-8. In grades 3-6 we’ll be using the second part of Feierabend’s curriculum called “Conversational Solfege.” Look for a blog post on this soon!