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Lights, Camera, Action!

Spring Musical 2015 is finally here! The children have been working so hard rehearsing, learning speaking lines, practicing solos, and mastering choreography. We cannot wait for our performance tomorrow night. Below are some pictures from rehearsal today.

I am so proud of all of our 1st-6th grade students. It truly is a blessing to work with such talented students and at a place that supports and encourages both performing and visual arts.

Lights, Camera, Action! image

Lights, Camera, Action! image

Lights, Camera, Action! image

Lights, Camera, Action! image

Lights, Camera, Action! image

Choreography 101

Last week, we were thrilled to have St. James alum Rebecca Sayadian with us to teach us some awesome choreography and dance moves for our Spring Musical. All of our 1st-6th graders had the opportunity to work with Mrs. Rebecca, and she taught us moves for two of our musical songs. The 5th graders even learned a third song and some really amazing choreography for their class number. We want to thank Mrs. Rebecca and TRAHC for coming to teach us and show us wonderful new things.

Choreography 101 image

Choreography 101 image

Choreography 101 image

The Countdown Has Begun!

Our annual countdown to Spring Musical has begun. We have 35 school days until we present "Lights, Camera, Action." The students have been working hard learning music and choreography. Very soon, we will begin adding solos and speaking parts and begin putting the show together.

This year, we have a very special guest coming to help us prepare for our Spring Musical. Her name is Rebecca Sayadian, and she is a choreographer and Dance Teacher from Arkansas. She is also a former St. James student, so she has a lot of knowledge about our school and musical tradition. Through TRAHC (Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council) she has choreographed three of the songs for Spring Musical and is coming this week to begin teaching our students. We are very excited to have her, especially with out theme this year of Music from the Movies. Can you imagine a movie without anyone moving? Just as music is integral to movies, so are the motions that go along with that music. Once she has come, I will post pictures of the fun things she teaches us!

Let the dancing and singing begin!

Snow and Spring Break?

The weather here has been quite chilly and snowy, and it is hard to imagine that it is almost Spring Break. The older music classes at St. James are learning about Beethoven and working on Spring Musical. It will be here before you know it.

While learning about Beethoven, we have done some wonderful things to help us interpret and analyze his music and life. Several classes have danced to Beethoven's music, and we wrote some acrostic poems describing his life and music. I have put some pictures below of the fun we are having.

We are now three months from Spring Musical. The students have already learned several of the songs, and we have begun learning choreography. For the older classes, I like to have them help create the movements we do so they can learn what it takes to put on a production such as a musical. They also get to take ownership in what they are doing, which is an excellent concept to learn.

The preschool classes are singing and dancing as always. My goal for them is to learn to love music and have fun singing. After Spring Break, we will begin turning our focus to Spring programs, which are always a highlight of the year.

Snow and Spring Break? image

Snow and Spring Break? image

Snow and Spring Break? image

Snow and Spring Break? image

What a Week

What a week it has been here at St. James. We started the week with 100th day, celebrated by our Kindergarteners. In music that day, we sang songs about counting to 100 by ones, fives, and tens, remembering the things we had learned over the past 100 days (polar bears, sight words, etc.), and learning a few cheers about how cool it is to be in school for 100 days.

In additional, our preschool classes have also been singing about Valentine's Day. They have learned how to spell "heart" to the tune of B-I-N-G-O, practice playing instruments and doing sign language to "Jesus Loves Me," and talked about all the people and animals they love. We truly are a very loving school, and I love each and every one of my students.

Finally, tomorrow is Grandparents' Day, and all of our classes have been working very hard to prepare a wonderful program for them tomorrow. Our youngest students, the Primary I and II classes, will be singing several songs about how much they love their Grandparents. Pre-K has learned sign language to our school hymn, "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light." Kindergarten is singing a song in Spanish. Lower school is going to teach us all about weather and rocks and minerals. Middle School is singing a song about how their Grandparents have helped them learn and grow as well as teaching us about how Latin helps us learn English grammar.

Even though this week has been very hectic, it is truly a wonderful example of the greatness that is St. James. We are able to take time to learn about and celebrate wonderful events like 100th day, Valentine's Day, and Grandparents' Day.

Can You Guess?

It's that time of year again - time to begin thinking about Spring Musical. This week has certainly begun to feel like Spring, and the children are very anxious to know what our musical will be this year. As I do each year, I have been giving hints this week as to what Spring Musical is. The children have been guessing and asking a lot of questions. It is wonderful to see them so excited about singing! Below is a picture of all the hints I have given them. Can you guess what it is?

In addition to thinking about the Musical, our 3rd-6th grade classes have begun learning about the famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven. We have been listening to a fictional story based on Beethoven's life about a young boy who lives in the apartment underneath Beethoven. We have explored what it is like to be deaf as well as losing one's sight, like Beethoven. We have also thought about what it might have been to live under a person who could not hear. Our story began with a description of Beethoven's funeral, and how it was such a big deal that even the schools let out that day. Our students drew pictures of what they thought the scene might have looked like, and I have posted pictures of a couple of those below. The students are learning a great deal about Beethoven in additional to using their art, writing, dancing, and drama skills.

Can You Guess? image

Can You Guess? image

Can You Guess? image


Yesterday, our Kindergarten through 6th Grade students had the wonderful opportunity to see and hear the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. This is always one of our favorite trips of the year as it is not only very educational but also entertaining and exciting as the children get to see a full orchestra with all of the instruments they have been learning about as well as an excellent actor who teaches them about the instruments and famous composers.

This year, our Kindergarten through 3rd Grade classes heard music by Brahms, Mozart, and Beethoven as well as the hilarious story of The Remarkable Farkle McBride. Farkle McBride is a child who learns to play many different instruments but is never satisfied until he discovers the entire orchestra playing together.

Our 4th through 6th Grade classes heard an entire program on Beethoven. They learned about his life and compositions using the 5th Symphony as a guide. It was extremely well done and very informative. It was amazing how much the children learned in a 45 minute concert!

We are very thankful to the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra for putting on these concerts each year. They add so much to the quality of life here in Texarkana, and they want to be sure even the children are exposed to quality classical music. Bravo! Well done!

Bravo! image

Bravo! image

Bravo! image

Bravo! image

Halloween is Here! (and Candlelight is Coming!)

Preschool classes are hard at work learning fun songs all about Halloween: pumpkins, witches, ghosts and goblins, cats and bats, etc. While these songs are fun, we are also learning about rhyming words, same beginning sounds, and the difference between what is real (pumpkins, cats, and bats) and what is pretend (witches, ghosts, and goblins). Many of these classes will share the songs they have learned with groups throughout our community as they dress up for Halloween. We love going out into the community to sing and bring smiles to people!

The Lower School and Middle School classes have begun working on Candlelight. This year we are going to have two Candlelight services since the school has grown so much. These services will be very similar with a few different songs in each service. As always, our sixth graders will be our leaders, and they will be attending both services. The theme for Candlelight this year is Peace. We are incorporating some of Handel's "Messiah" as well as some new songs written specifically for children for the season of Advent.

Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord

Music is in full swing here at St. James. All students have begun their curriculum and are learning new songs, chants, motions, and rhythm patterns. I have heard from several parents that they are hearing new songs at home! It is always a good sign when what we do here at school actually remains with the children long after they have left campus.

We have a very special opportunity to sing this year at St. James Episcopal Church. Sunday, October 5, 2014 is Episcopal School Recognition Sunday, and the church has invited students from the school to sing as part of their 10:00am worship service. All students, parents, and teachers are invited to attend, and the 1st-6th graders will be able to share in worship through song. We are asking all students who attend to wear Dress Uniforms so we are recognizable at the church. This will be a very special occasion to show the church some of what we do at St. James Day School. I hope you all can attend.

Finally, I would like to thank the Episcopal Foundation of Dallas for a grant that allowed the school to purchase a new digital piano as well as a podium for our weekly Chapel services. Since our school is growing, we have had to move Chapel to the gym, and we needed some new equipment to allow that to happen. The new digital piano can make about 60 different sounds as well as record up to 80 minutes of music. We can also move it around campus as we need it for various programs. We are very excited about this new instrument and are very grateful to the Episcopal Foundation for providing the funds.

Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord image

“You Can’t Stop the Beat”

At St. James, you definitely cannot stop the Beat of Broadway. Friday night's Spring Musical was huge success, thanks to the hard work of our 99 students in grades one through six. In addition, the many faculty, staff, and parents who assisted with props, costumes, backstage help, and a myriad of other tasks made the show a rousing success. I want to express my sincere thanks to all who helped, and to St. James for supporting the arts and encouraging all of our students to find their voice. And now, as our 6th graders sang on Friday, we say "So Long, Farewell" to the musical for another year. Preschool Spring programs are quickly approaching, as is 6th Grade Graduation. Summer will be here before we know it, but we have a lot of work to do and fun to have before June. As always, "We Go Together" in all that we do!

Symphony is gone; Spring Musical is Coming

Yesterday, St. James students had the opportunity to attend a concert by the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. It was a wonderful day filled with exceptional music, excellent entertainment, and a lot of learning. Our students behaved extremely well, and I was very proud of everyone. Thank you to Marc-Andre Bougie and Andrew Clark of the TSO for putting on such a wonderful program. I have attached just a couple of pictures of our children having a wonderful time.

Now, Spring Musical is coming, and next week, I will be revealing this year's theme. All week, I have been putting pictures on my wall with hints to see if anyone can guess the theme. All the hints are now up - see if you can guess the theme! (See last picture below.)

Symphony is gone; Spring Musical is Coming image

Symphony is gone; Spring Musical is Coming image

Symphony is gone; Spring Musical is Coming image

Bring on the Symphony

Next week, all of the students at St. James (with the exception of our Primary I and II students) will have the opportunity to go to the Perot Theater and see the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra perform. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get to see and hear a professional orchestra play live on stage. The music this year promises to be wonderful. Some of it our students should recognize, as the concert will begin with the very famous opening theme to "Star Wars." There will also be some new music for them to hear, including a "Toy Symphony," music written to accompany video games, and a musical adaptation of "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss. The concert for the Middle School students will also have a famous piece of music written specifically to teach children about the orchestra, "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra." I always look forward to this concert each year because it is truly a special and memorable experience for our students. Thanks to the TSO for ensuring and aiding the music education of children in the Texarkana area.

Come Thou Long-Expected Candlelight!

Candlelight is quickly approaching, and I have already received several inquiries as to the details of the day. Candlelight will be held at St. James Episcopal Church on Thursday, December 19, at 6:30pm. Below you will find a schedule for that day as well as information about dress and the service itself. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

-Attendance at Candlelight and the rehearsal is required for all students in 1st-6th grade. An unexcused absence with result in your child's music grade dropping by one letter. As always, illness, family emergency, etc. are excused absences and will not affect grades.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
-I will need assistance taking the risers to the church at some point during this day. Please let me know if you have a truck/large SUV and can help - exact time is flexible.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

-8:30am-11:30am - Rehearsal at St. James Church (4th and Olive St, across from Federal Courthouse)
*Please drop your children off at the church between 8:15 and 8:30 and pick up at the church promptly at 11:30.
*There is NO AFTERSCHOOL the day of Candlelight, so please make appropriate arrangements.
*Dress for rehearsal is regular school uniforms: polos, khakis, etc.

-6:00 pm - All children must be in the Parish Hall at St. James to get lined up
*Dress for Candlelight: boys - dress pants, dress shirt, coat, tie, dress shoes (no jeans, sneakers, polo shirts, flip flops, etc.); girls - dress or skirt/top, dress shoes (no pants, flip flops, etc.)

-6:30 pm - Service begins
*Doors to the church will not open until 6:00pm.
*The service should last about 1 hour.
*As this is a worship service, please no photography/videography during the service.
*I will need some assistance taking the risers back to school after the service - especially men with trucks!

The children have been working very hard in preparation for this special evening. I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am. Thanks!

Mr. Z is Coming! (So are Halloween and Christmas.)

One of the students' favorite weeks of the year is quickly approaching - the week Mr. Zinse comes to St. James. Mr. Z (as the kids call him), is an African Drummer who comes every year to teach our children how to play the African drums. The children get to learn all kinds of rhythm and culture from around the world, as Mr. Z is also a wonderful storyteller. One of the first questions I hear each year from students is "When is Mr. Z coming?" Now we know the answer. He will be here Oct. 28-30 teaching our Kindergarten through 6th graders. It is a special treat for all of us to learn from Mr. Z.

In addition to Mr. Z, we also have Halloween and Christmas right around the corner. Our preschool classes are learning all kinds of Halloween songs and rhythms that not only teach about ghosts and goblins, cats and bats, and pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns but also about counting, rhyming, letters, steady beat, listening skills, and science. We at St. James are always looking for ways to reinforce our core subjects, and music is no different.

Finally, once we get through Halloween (and Thanksgiving), we will be in the busy season of Advent and Christmas. Our older kids (1st-6th graders) have already started working on music for Candlelight - our Advent program on Thursday, December 19.. That will continue and only become more focused as we move past Halloween. For our preschoolers, our Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes will be presenting a Christmas program on Tuesday, December 17. We will start working on this program in the coming week.

As always, we are staying busy in music classes here at St. James - Mr. Z, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas - OH MY!

Mr. Z is Coming! (So are Halloween and Christmas.) image

Music in the Making

Music is in the making at St. James. Classes are in full swing, and the children are beginning to learn new songs and chants. I hope parents are beginning to hear your children sing these at home because that means they have internalized them, and the songs and rhythms are becoming second nature to them. That is our goal.

I believe that music should be fun, and that means at times it is also silly. We have been making silly sounds in all our classes. We have made sounds like rooster, horses, sheep, frogs, bees, and countless other animals. In the older classes, we are learning rhythm patterns on non-sense syllables like cha, ka, du, and du-de. Soon, we will that these syllables stand for notes, and we will begin to write our own rhythm patterns. We all have a good time, but at the same time, we are learning rhythm and beat!

Soon, the Fall holidays will be upon us, so we will be adding Halloween songs to our class time for the preschoolers, and grades 1-6 will be beginning music for Candlelight. Time flies when you are having fun, and we definitely have fun making music!

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to music at St. James. I am looking forward to a wonderful year. For the first time, all students at St. James will have music classes: from the youngest children in Primary I and Primary II all the way up to the 6th graders. Every student will gain the benefits of music education, and we will be creating a group of people who will be able to dance to the beat at their wedding and accurately sing "Happy Birthday" to their children!

I want to let everyone know some important dates for performances this year. These are required for all 1st-6th graders:
Candlelight - December, 19, 2013
Spring Musical - April 4, 2014
Graduation - June 5, 2014

We have some new curriculum this year in music that is based off of American folk songs and Classical music. We are approaching music education much like we teach children English. We speak and hear the language first, and then we learn what it looks like and how to read it. In the preschool classes we will be emphasizing steady beat through lots of moving and playing instruments as well as doing lots of singing. In the beginning, the children will sing as a group, but the end goal is for each child to be comfortable singing by his/herself. In the older grades, we will be learning about the fundamentals of music theory through hearing and creating music. The students will be learning simple songs and then analyzing the different rhythmic and melodic patterns in them. Then, once we have learned how to recognize them by hearing, we will learn what they look like and how to write them down on a music staff. Again, our goal is not to create concert musicians but to cultivate people who understand and appreciate music.

If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. I am looking forward to a wonderful year! Let the singing begin!

TSO, Here We Come!

Next week, several of our classes will be going to the Perot Theater for a concert by the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra. To prepare for our experience there, our 2nd-6th grade classes have been learning (or reviewing) the orchestra. We have learned the four main instrument families - strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion, and the instruments in each family. We have been talking about the various sounds the different instruments make, which ones make high sounds, which ones make low sounds, and which adjectives we might use to describe how each instrument sounds.

To facilitate this, we have been using an activity from the Carnegie Hall website. This program is based on a book and composition entitled "The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" by Benjamin Britton, a 20th century composer from Great Britain. Anyone can go to this website and play the games we have been working on in class. The link to this program is http://listeningadventures.carnegiehall.org/ypgto/index.aspx. I know several of the students have asked for this so they can play at home.

Finally, I want to say how proud I was of all our students during their Advent and Christmas programs. They all sang so beautifully and were on their best behavior. I hope you were as proud of their work as I was. Yea! Now it's time to settle down and rest for a few weeks before we begin work on the Spring Musical. It will be here before you know it!

Halloween and Thanksgiving - Check! Christmas - Coming Quickly!

We can officially cross Halloween and Thanksgiving off our lists of things to do this year, and the programs for those occasions are in the books. Now, all we have left this calendar year is Advent and Christmas. We are less than four weeks from those programs, and there is much work to do.

Parents of Preschool Students (K4-Primer), you should be receiving some speaking lines from your homeroom teachers this week. Each child has a speaking part in their Christmas musical, and we need your help in them learning and memorizing their lines. These need to be memorized by next Friday, December 7. This will give us time to put everything together before our program on Tuesday, December 18. The program will be at St. James Church at 6:30 pm in the Parish Hall. We will have a rehearsal that morning at the church from 8:30-10:30. You will need to drop your child off at the church, not the school. The homeroom teachers will be arranging for parents to bring the children back to the school when the rehearsal is over.

Parents of Lower and Middle School Students, we are working diligently learning the many songs for Candlelight this year. Hopefully you hear them singing their songs at home. If not, ask them to give you a preview of what they are learning. The Candlelight Service will be at St. James Church on Thursday, December 20, at 6:30 pm. As usual, we will have a rehearsal that morning at the church from 8:30-11:30. Please drop your child off at the church, not the school, between 8:15 and 8:30, and pick them up at the church at 11:30. This will be a half day for the children, as they need to be back at the church by 6:00 pm that evening. If you will need after school care for your child, please let the homeroom teacher know so that can be arranged.

I hope you are as excited as I am about all the wonderful things going on at St. James this holiday season.


This is the time of year for programs, and here at St. James, we take this to heart. We have just had a Halloween Program at Cornerstone Retirement Community by the Kindergarten and Primer classes. In a couple of weeks, the K4 Class will have their Thanksgiving Program and Feast. I also believe the Lower School is having a Thanksgiving Program. Then comes December, with Candlelight and the Preschool Christmas Musical.

For those who are not aware, Candlelight is our annual Advent Program for the 1st-6th graders. Since we are an Episcopal School, we observe the season of Advent that occurs the 4 weeks before Christmas Day. This is a time for us to wait and prepare for the coming of Christ. At Candlelight, we do not sing any of the traditional Christmas carols. Instead, we focus on music that tells of waiting, anticipating, and preparing for the birth of Jesus. This program will be Thursday, December 20.

For our preschoolers this year, we are doing a Christmas musical entitled "Angels, Lambs, Ladybugs, and Fireflies." This is a program about Christmas, and the children will each be an animal that helps tell the Christmas story. This program will be Tuesday, December 18.

All of our children are working hard learning songs and speaking parts for all of these programs. So, if your child comes home singing some songs you have never heard before, that is probably because they had music that day. Hopefully their singing will put you in the Advent and Christmas spirit.

Holidays Galore and a Special Guest

Music at St. James is in full swing as we prepare for various upcoming programs. Our preschoolers have been learning all kinds of Halloween songs, and the Kindergarten and Primer students will be sharing what they have learned at Cornerstone Retirement Community in a couple of weeks. We are also beginning to learn songs for our Preschool Christmas Musical, and more information about that will be coming in the next month or so. Also soon, we will introduce Thanksgiving songs to our K4 students as they prepare their Thanksgiving Feast Program.

In addition to all the fun preschool programs, students in grades 1-6 are hard at work learning music for their Advent service, Candlelight. We have ordered some new music that I am very excited about, and the children are working hard learning notes, words, and even some words in Latin in preparation for that service. Parents of Middle School students, ask your children what "Dona nobis pacem" means (and how to pronounce it) - they should be able to tell you! Candlelight will be Thursday, December 20. Mark your calendars.

Even with all these programs for which we are preparing, next week, we will take a short break from those (except for K4 students) when we have a special guest coming to our music classes - Mr. Zinse! For those of you who have not heard of Mr. Z (as the kids call him), he is an African drummer who comes once a year and teaches our Kindergarten - 6th grade students how to play the African drums. We are very lucky to have him come each year, and the children always have a wonderful time as he teaches them the drums and tells them lots of stories and fables. So, if you children come home next week beating on the counter or table, it is because they have been doing that at school and not getting in trouble for it!

Holidays Galore and a Special Guest image

Holidays Galore and a Special Guest image

Classical Music in Unexpected Places

Today, the 5th and 6th graders learned about a very popular piece of classical music - Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D. We learned some of the history of the composer and the piece itself (yes, that means more notes!), but then we had some fun with it. We listened to the original version for strings, then we listened to some popular songs that are based on the chord progression in Pachelbel's Canon. For example, the Beatles songs, "Let It Be" has the same chords and bass line as the Canon. Also, the hymn "Seek Ye First" that we sing often in Chapel is based on the same chords as Pachelbel's original. We also sang some rounds ("Row, Row, Row Your Boat) and played Pachelbel's Canon on the xylophones. Fun was had by all!

It’s beginning to sound a lot like . . .

. . . Advent!

Can you believe it is already time to begin working on Candlelight. Our annual Advent program is only about 12 weeks away. Today in Middle School choir, we had a listening day where we looked at and listened to some of the music we will be singing, all by candlelight! (Some of the children thought the electricity had gone out!) Over the next 12 weeks, the 1st-6th graders will be learning, memorizing, and perfecting many pieces to present to parents and friends on Thursday, December 20.

Soon, the preschoolers (K4-Primer) also will being learning their Christmas musical, which will be presented on Tuesday, December 18. This year, we are doing one program for all preschoolers who take music classes in the hopes of simplifying everyone's schedule during that very busy season. More information this program will be coming soon.

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas (and Advent)!

It’s beginning to sound a lot like . . . image

The Bagpipes are Coming!

Today, we had a special treat for K4, Kindergarten, and Primer students. They are studying the letter "B," so we had a demonstration of the bagpipes. My husband, Fr. David, came to play the bagpipes for the children. He has been playing the bagpipes since college. His ancestors are from Scotland, and he wore traditional Scottish dress, including a kilt in the Clergy tartan and a sporran. He showed them how the bagpipes work, and played "Amazing Grace" for them. The children discovered that bagpipes only make one volume level - loud! Many of them had to cover their ears when he played, even though he was only playing part of the pipes! The children had many good questions about how bagpipes work and what he was wearing. It was a fun day for all!

The Bagpipes are Coming! image

Ready, Set, Go!  Welcome to Music at St. James!

Welcome to Music at St. James! I am very excited to be teaching my second year of music at St. James. I am looking forward to once again sharing my passion for music with your children. As evident in the Psalms, music is a gift from God. My philosophy is that music education should be both fun and instructional while always being glorifying to God. In addition, I believe that proper theory and technique must be taught from the beginning. I do not teach children to sing like many of the performers heard on the radio and television. I approach music from a classical, rather than a popular, perspective. Not all children will grow up to be performers, but all children have the ability to learn to sing properly and appreciate the music they hear around them. I am very much looking forward to teaching your children this year. I am already planning for Candlelight, the Spring Musical, and, yes,Graduation (tears from the 6th grade parents are starting now). Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about music. It's going to be a great year!

Five, Four, Three, Two, One!!!

The countdown is almost complete - one week left. The musical is coming together, and we are almost ready. I have just a few additional requests and bits of information for you.

1. On Thursday, April 19, after school (3:15), we need to move our props and risers to the theater at Texas High School. To accomplish this, we will need 2 or 3 parents with trucks to help transport some large items (risers, couch, chair, TV, etc.) We also will need help bringing these items back to school after the performance Friday night. The more help we get, the faster it will go. Please let me know if you can assist us with this.

2. We still need all props to be brought to school this week. This includes all costume accessories (everything except the black t-shirts the children will wear). Please bring these items to school as soon as possible, labeled with your child's name.

3. For the dress rehearsal on Friday morning, April 20, you will need to drop your children off at the theater at Texas High School between 8:15 and 8:30, no earlier, no later. They will need to wear their jeans, black t-shirts, and sneakers. (Sixth grade characters will need to wear their costumes.) Please pick up your children at 12:00 noon. If you will be needing after school care that day (starting at 12:00) please notify your child's homeroom teacher. Any children not picked up by 12:15 will be taken to after school.

4. Friday night, all children will need to be at the theater by 6:00pm. The performance starts at 7:00pm.

5. For the performance, girls will need their hair to be in a ponytail, pig tails, or braids -- completely off their faces and necks. If it is not long enough to go in a ponytail, it needs to be pinned up and back. I do not want any hair in the children's faces so they can be seen and heard and so they don't play with it during the performance. (If a boy's hair is long and in his face, it will need to be pulled back as well!!!)

I am getting very excited about this production. I hope you and your children are as well. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.

Three weeks!!!

St. James Spring Musical is quickly approaching. Your children have been working hard since January learning the songs, drama, and choreography for this year's musical - Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. This is a musical written especially for children using the songs from the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons. I am sure most of you have been hearing your children singing these songs at home (at least that is what I hope).

This year, the presentation of the musical will be on Friday, April 20th, at 7:00 pm, at the John Thomas Theater at Texas High School. This is the same place we had the musical last year. Just like Candlelight, attendance at this is required for all students and constitutes 20% of your child's grade. I will send out information later regarding exact times when students should be at the theater. We will also have a rehearsal there the morning on the presentation.

Even though this is a big production that is adapted from a Broadway musical, my goal is to keep the logistics as simple as possible. The basic costume for all children is jeans, a solid black t-shirt (no logos or writing of any kind), and sneakers/tennis shoes. There are six main characters (all 6th graders) who will wear something different, but they know who they are. In addition, most classes will have extra accessories (hats, glasses, etc) that they will wear for their class' song or individual part. I will notify you in the coming weeks if your child will need any of these type of items.

We do need some help acquiring a few props to be used in the musical. Below is a list of items we need. If you have any of these items, please let me know via email. We will have a collection date in a few weeks, and all items will be returned to you.

Conductor's cap
Captains/Navy hat
Large backpack/duffle bag
Large teddy bear
White wigs
Long Scroll
Feather quill
Napoleon hat
Coonskin caps
Indian headpiece
Doctor's jacket/bag/etc.
Bouquet of fake flowers
Nerf football

I have tried very hard to ensure that every child who wants an individual part in the musical has one of some kind. It may not be the exact part he/she wanted, but to the best of my knowledge, every child who wanted one has an individual speaking, singing, or acting part. I want this musical to be a good experience for all the children, so I wanted to make sure all parts were appropriate to the children's ages and abilities.

I am very much enjoying working with your children on this project, and I am looking forward to a wonderful presentation in just four short weeks. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.


Playing With Our Food and Schoolhouse Rock

I know as parents, you are always telling your children not to play with their food. However, in music, our preschoolers have been doing just that. While learning the concept of long and short, we used Goldfish and Pretzel Sticks to represent long and short. The children made patterns with their food, and then clapped their pattern. They had a lot of fun doing this, especially since when we were finished, everyone (including the teacher!) got to eat their Goldfish and Pretzel Sticks!

For the older kids, we are in full Schoolhouse Rock mode. After today, we have 6 weeks until the Spring Musical. The kids are working hard learning all their songs. We are even beginning to learn our choreography! I am beginning to assign parts to students. Every child who wants a part will have one. Some of them are longer, while others are shorter. I am trying to include as many children as possible so everyone has a good experience with this wonderful musical.

Playing With Our Food and Schoolhouse Rock image

Schoolhouse Rock!!!

As I am sure parents have heard by now, the musical this year at St James is Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. This is a musical based on the cartoons many of us grew up watching as children. I am very excited about this undertaking, and I think the kids are excited as well. We have begun learning the music, and in the coming weeks, we will be assigning other parts to make this a wonderful musical experience for all the 1st-6th graders at St. James. As with any production like this, some kids will have parts, and some will not. I have begun explaining this to the children, and I hope you will as well. I want this to be a positive experience for all of us.

10 days and counting!

Candlelight is almost upon us!!! The children are working hard learning their music, and things are beginning to come together. I wanted to let you know some details about the day of Candlelight. Many of you have been through this before, so most of this will not be new information. However, some of you are like me and this is your first Candlelight and might not be sure of the details.

Candlelight is Friday, December 16, 2011, at 6:30 pm at St. James' Episcopal Church, 417 Olive St, Texarkana, TX.

The morning of Candlelight, all 1st-6th Grade students will meet at St. James' Church for rehearsal. They need to be there NO LATER THAN 8:30am, at which time they will find their teacher and sit with him/her. They need to be picked up at 11:30am. Please let your child's teacher know if you will be using the After School Program that day so that transportation arrangements can be made. Dress for the rehearsal is normal school uniforms.

The night of Candlelight, all students need to be at the church in the Parish Hall NO LATER THAN 6:00pm. Once again, they will find their teacher. This will give us time to get the children lined up and ready to begin the service promptly at 6:30pm. The dress for Candlelight is Christmas Sunday clothes. Boys should be in coat and tie, and girls should wear nice dresses - no jeans, sneakers, t-shirts, polo-shirts, pants (for girls), flip-flops, etc.

Also, I want to stress that this is a worship service, not just another performance. I have been explaining to the children since October that the purpose of this service is to offer our praise and worship to God as we prepare for his coming at Christmas. In keeping with this, we ask that there not be photography, video recording, or any other distracting spectacles as the children present the songs they have learned. The children have worked very hard, and I know you will want to record the events of the evening, but we ask that you do this after the service is over.

Finally, I want to let you know that participation and attendance at Candlelight is mandatory. It accounts for 20% of your child's grade. Illness and other emergencies will be handled on a case by case basis.

I am very grateful and thankful to be at St. James this year, and I am very much looking forward to this evening. If you have any questions regarding Candlelight, please do not hesitate to email me. I may not know the answer, but I will find out and get back with you.

Thank you for all your support.

17 Days and Counting!!

As of today, we have 17 days until Candlelight (and even less to the Kindergarten/Primer and K4 Christmas programs)!!! This is cause for both celebration and anxiety. The children are working very hard learning all their music. The Lower School students are learning 7 songs, and the Middle School students are learning 8 songs (some of them overlap). In K4 and Kindergarten/Primer, we are learning songs as well as playing instruments: chimes, xylophones, resonator bells, tone blocks, rhythm sticks, and jingle bells. This is definitely a busy time for everyone.

I spoke a little this week to the older students about how important it is for them to take care of themselves all them time, but especially over the next few weeks. They need to get plenty of rest, drink a lot of non-carbonated fluids, eat their vegetables, and wash their hands frequently. There are lots of illnesses going around, and we need everyone to stay healthy so we can do our best.

I am very much looking forward to all the Advent and Christmas programs this year. It is wonderful to see all the support this school gives to music, and how confident the children are in performing. This holiday season, I am grateful to be here at St. James, and I hope you are as well.

Thanksgiving Day Is a Happy Day!!

"Thanksgiving Day is a happy day when we say Thank You God." This is a song our 4 year olds are learning about being thankful, not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. We have been learning several songs about Thanksgiving this week, and next week will be completely devoted to Thanksgiving songs about being thankful, turkeys, indians, pilgrims, etc. Ask your child to sing some of these at home to reinforce.

Kindergarten and Primer students have been learning how to play some new instruments - xylophones and hand chimes. Some of these will probably be used during their Christmas program in Dec.

First graders are learning about note and rest values, while all the 2nd-6th graders have learned their Treble Note Names. (2nd and 3rd have a quiz on them next week.) 4th-6th have also been learning about George Frederic Handel, who wrote one of the most famous pieces of music sung around Christmas - The Messiah, which includes the Hallelujah Chorus. (5th and 6th have a quiz next week, while 4th will have one after Thanksgiving.)

Here are our lesson goals for next week:
K4 - Thanksgiving Songs
Kindergarten/Primer - Christmas songs and instruments
1st: Note and Rest values, Candlelight music
2nd and 3rd: Treble Note Names quiz, Candlelight Music
4th: George Frederic Handel, Bass Note Names, Candlelight Music
5th and 6th: George Frederic Handel Quiz, Bass Note Names, Candlelight Music

The Countdown Has Begun!!

Candlelight is December 16, 2011, at 6:30 pm at St. James' Church. That is only 6 school weeks away!!!

We have now at least looked at all the music we will be singing that night, although we still have a long way to go with learning it. Starting next week, at least part of the individual classes for 1st-6th grade each week will be devoted to Candlelight music in addition to our weekly choir times. Soon, I will also be posting times for auditions for some solos/duets/ensembles that will be singing.

As a reminder of my previous blog posts, Candlelight is a worship service, not just another performance. Our goal is not to glorify ourselves but to glorify God. Not everyone will have a solo or speaking part, but everyone will be using his or her voice to glorify God.

As a reminder, attendance at Candlelight is mandatory and accounts for 20% of your child's grade.

For the younger students, now that Halloween is over, we are learning songs about the other upcoming holidays. K4 students are beginning to learn some songs about Thanksgiving, while K5-Primer are starting to work on their Christmas songs (including playing some really cool instruments!).

Here are our learning goals for this week and next week.

Week of Oct 31
K4-Primer - Loud and Soft
1st Grade - Note Values
2nd-3rd Grade - Treble Note Names
4th Grade - Treble Note Names (Quiz next week!) and George Frederic Handel
5th-6th Grade - George Frederic Handel

Week of Nov 7
K4 - Long and Short, Steady Beat, Thanksgiving Music
K5-Primer - Long and Short, Steady Beat, Christmas Music
1st Grade - Note and Rest Values, Candlelight Music
2nd-3rd Grade - Treble Note Names (Quiz next week), Candlelight Music
4th Grade - Quiz on Treble Note Names, George Frederic Handel, Candlelight Music
5th-6th Grade - Bass Clef Note Names, George Frederic Handel (Quiz next week), Candlelight Music

Happy Halloween! (Week of Oct. 24)

Happy Halloween!! This week, we are in full Halloween mode, especially in the K4-Primer classes. Thank to the efforts of the homeroom teachers, these classes will be going to different nursing homes in the area on Friday to share some wonderful Halloween cheer. We have been working hard learning our songs so we can be good representatives of St. James. Even the older classes will have a little Halloween fun (time and behavior permitting!).

Grades go home later this week, so I wanted to take the opportunity to describe how grades work in music class. For K5 and Primer, the grade is based on effort and participation. For 1st-6th grades, the grade is composed of the following (20% each): class participation, assignments, tests and quizzes, attitude, and concert participation. Due to the fact that music is unlike any other class, I have purposefully weighted the grades away from tests and more toward participation and effort. I do give tests to ensure that the students are grasping the content because music is cumulative. As I told the students, the only way to fail music is to come to class with a bad attitude and not participate. As for all classes, there is a separate grade for conduct.

Halloween is Coming! (So is Advent!) - Oct 17-21

Halloween is coming!! K4, Kindergarten, and Primer classes are all working hard on Halloween songs which they will sing at a couple of nursing homes/assisted living facilities around our city. Encourage your children to sing these songs for you at home as practice (as much as you can stand!!!).

For the older classes, 1st-6th, we have completely skipped over Halloween and are focusing solely on Advent (a.k.a Candlelight). We have lots of songs to learn, and time is quickly passing by. Sixth graders will be out most of next week, and we also miss a week due to Thanksgiving. So, although it is only October, we are working diligently to learn notes and words so we can "finesse" them n Nov. and Dec.

Here are our lesson goals for next week:
K4 - loud and soft, Halloween songs
Kindergarten/Primer - Loud and Soft, Halloween songs
1st - Pitch Matching, Percussion Instruments, Staff, Grand Staff, Clefs, Lines and Spaces - test on theory on Wed, Oct. 19
2nd - Note Names, Percussion Instruments - Test on instruments next week
3rd - Note Names, Percussion Instruments - Test on instruments next week
4th - Note Names, Baroque Period, J.S. Bach - Test on Baroque/Bach next week
5th - Note Names, George Frederic Handel
6th - Note Names, George Frederic Handel

Singing in Chapel

Some of our very talented students performing in Chapel.

Soli Deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria. Do you know what this means? If you have a 5th or 6th grader, ask him/her what it means. J.S. Bach signed all of his compositions with this Latin phrase, which means "To God Alone Be the Glory." In these classes, we have been learning about the Baroque period, looking at some artwork from this time period, and listening to music written by J.S. Bach, the most important and well-known composer from this time in history. We talked a lot about how Bach wrote all of his music to the glory of God and God alone. As we are starting to prepare for Candlelight, this is important for us to think about as well. Our singing is not a time for us to have the spotlight shine on ourselves. Instead, it is an offering of worship to God, and He alone should receive the glory.

A few 4th-6th grade students who are interested and willing will be singing in Chapel next week, Oct 4. We have been learning an anthem in our choir practices, and some of those who feel comfortable (we may not have room for everyone this week), will be singing it as a musical offering in Chapel. Parents are welcome to come. (It starts at 8:30 and lasts about 30 minutes.)

Here is what the various classes have been working on this week, as well as goals for next week.

Week of Sept 26
K4-Primer - High and Low
1st - Grand staff, String Instruments
2nd-3rd - Note Values, Woodwind and String Instruments - Test next week, Oct. 5
4th - Note Values Review - Test on Note Values
5th-6th - Note Names, Baroque Period, J.S. Bach - Quiz next week, Oct 5

Week of Oct 3
K4-Primer - High and Low
1st - Treble and Bass Clef, Brass Instruments
2nd-3rd - Test on Note Values, Brass Instruments
4th - Treble and Bass Clef, Note Names, Baroque Period, J.S. Bach
5th-6th - Note Names, Quiz on Baroque/Bach

An Exciting Instrument!

Today, the K4-1st graders got to play an exciting instrument - the Alto Xylophone. This is an Orff instrument that is very special - not all schools have these instruments. St James is very blessed to have such wonderful musical instruments on which the children can learn various musical concepts as well as other skills like hand-eye coordination and how to follow directions. Today, we were learning high and low. We sang Hickory Dickory Dock and pretended we were the mice. First, we pretended with our bodies - climbing up and down. Then, we got to "play" the part of the mouse on the Xylophone. Everyone had a great time exploring this new instrument and learning about high notes and low notes.

Fast and Slow - Candlelight quickly approaches!

Fast and slow seem like such a basic concept, but it is a vital one in music. Last week and this week, K4-1st grade have been learning about fast and slow. We have been moving to fast and slow music, singing fast and slow, and playing instruments in fast and slow tempos.

For the older children, we are learning about fast because tests and concert dates are quickly approaching! Fifth and sixth graders are having a test today on note values. Fourth grade will be having a test next week, also on note values, but on a different level. Also, the second and third graders have begun learning the parts of the staff and how to recognize note values. They will be having a test soon as well.

The biggest thing quickly approaching is Candlelight (grades 1-6). While it is still 2 1/2 months away, those weeks will pass by sooner than many of us hope. We will start learning the songs for Candlelight in the coming weeks. Before everything gets started, I want to give you my thoughts on the Candlelight service. While it is true that Candlelight is a performance, that is not the main purpose of that evening. Most importantly, Candlelight is a worship service. It is not just a performance. We will not simply be singing to be seen or to show off the wonderful talents we have here at St. James. Every song sung - group or solo, every word spoken, and every instrument played that night will be first and foremost to the glory of God. It is a night to prepare for the coming of Jesus. The focus should be on that, not on ourselves. We will work hard in class to be prepared so we can offer our best to God, but it is not a time to put the spotlight on ourselves.

Sing a Song!

Welcome to Music at St. James! During the first couple weeks, we will be getting to know one another through music: games, songs, and activities. Preschoolers will begin learning about fast and slow, while the lower and middle school will begin learning music theory - treble clef, bass clef, note values, note names, etc. - as well as some music history - instrument families, Baroque Period, J. S. Bach, etc. In addition, we will be learning a new hymn every month. Lower and Middle School students will also be learning how to sing as a group and apply the concepts we study in theory and history to actual music. I can't wait to meet everyone!