Digital Learning Week 8- String Family

What is the String Family?

The string family is one of the most recognizable families in music. The string family makes their sound through the vibration of strings. Duh, right?! LOL String instruments are great because (unlike the brass and woodwinds) one string instrument can make multiple sounds because one person can play multiple strings at once.  For example, the guitar (my favorite) has 6 strings and I can play all 6 strings at the same time. This makes instruments from this family great accompaniment instruments. ACCOMPANIMENT is the musical sounds that support the main melody. Imagine a rock band. The lead singer is the melody (main idea) and other instruments like guitars and drums provide the other parts that make the song bigger and more interesting. They provide TEXTURE  which happens when we layer all the parts of music (melody, tone color, rhythm, pitch, tempo, dynamics, instruments, voice) together to create a finished product. The more parts you have in a song the thicker the texture of a song. You can think of it as there are more things to listen to and make it sound interesting. Think of the difference between a thin texture (one voice singing) and a thick texture (a full orchestra). String instruments can provide many sounds at once which allows you to have more texture with less people. Check out the sounds of the string family here:String Family Instruments


Strings, Science and Make Your Own Instrument

The Sound House will show us all about the string instruments. They will us the piano to show us about strings but, in music, we consider the piano a member of the percussion family since we HIT the string with a hammer. But no matter if it is a piano or a violin the strings are effected by how long or short and how thick or thin the string is that you are playing.


The Cello Song

We met Steve Nelson and the Piano Guys several weeks ago when we met John Williams. Steve plays an instrument called the Cello (pronounced CH-low). In the music room we call her Mama Cello because she has a sweet soothing sound and warm TONE COLOR. Steve is going to play a well known song by J.S. Bach. He is one of the greatest composers from a time in music we call the Baroque Period when music was VERY fancy. But Steve Nelson, being the crazy guy he is, put his own spin on it and made a new arrangement for 8 cellos. NO, he doesn’t have 7 identical twin brothers playing with him, that is more cool movie magic for you.



Digital Learning Week 7- The Woodwind Family

What is the Woodwind Family?

The Woodwind Family is a group of instruments what use wind vibrating against a surface to create sound. Many of these instruments are made of wood or were made of wood in the past. Those who aren’t made of wood usually have a piece of wood in the mouth piece that create the vibrating sound. These instruments are used in many different STYLES (types of music) and have many different TONE COLORS. Tone color is the special sound each instrument and voice have that make it sound different from other instruments.  This is why, when listening to music, we can tell the difference between drums, flutes, or violins. Also how we know the difference between women’s voices and men’s. Tone color is what makes sound interesting and why we have so many varieties of music.  Checkout Classics For Kids to see these instruments and hear their tone color. Woodwind Family Instrument


Woodwind, Science and Make Your Own Instrument

We are back at the Sound House checking out the way the Woodwind instruments work. They will also show you how to create your own simple woodwind instruments at home.


Make a Woodwind Instrument…..From A Carrot!!!

This is super cool and gives new meaning to “playing with your food.” LOL Checkout how Andrew makes a woodwind instrument from a carrot. If you want to do this at home, GET HELP FROM A PARENT!! Dads love to use power tools so they may be really excited to help you with yours.


Vegetable Orchestra Plays “Africa”

In Digital Learning Week Five, Ms. Sheppard introduced us to the song “Africa” by Toto performed by a group of singers called a CHORUS. Checkout this guy who uses all sorts of vegetables to make his own instruments to play his own version of this same song.


Harry Potter Meets….The Woodwind Family


Crosswords, Coloring Sheets and Woodwinds…OH MY!

Here are some fun Woodwind Activity Sheets for you to enjoy at home. Missing you greatly Buccaneers and I’m sending you lots of love.

woodwind worksheet1

woodwind worksheet 2

woodwind worksheet 3

Digital Learning Week 6- The Percussion Family

What Is Percussion? 

The Percussion Family is a group of instruments that control the steady beat and rhythm of a song. Drums are the most recognizable member of this family but there are so many others than just drums. This week we are going to be checking out some of these interesting instruments as well as creating our own! Check out the Classics For Kids website to hear many different types of percussion instruments.  Percussion Family Instruments Listen below to Mr. Jason as he takes you around his studio and shows you the different ways we make percussion instruments play. Keep your eyes open and see (not only the instruments he shows you) but also the other instruments sitting around and on shelves. ALL of these instruments belong in the percussion family!


The Percussion Family is the largest of the 4 musical instrument families because it includes anything that you HIT, SHAKE, or SCRAPE and sometimes RUB. There are a lot of things you can HIT, SHAKE, or SCRAPE and sometimes RUB so there are 1,000…100,000….maybe MILLIONS of percussion instruments all over the world!!! Checkout some of these unique percussion instruments and their countries.


Percussion, Science and Make Your Own Instrument

Instruments make sound because the effect vibrations. These vibrations move around us all the time and according to their size and length they make us hear different sounds (high or low) called PITCHES. Let’s head over to the Sound House and see these vibrations that we hear. Also, learn how to make some percussion instruments of our own with all those toilet paper rolls we all have around the house these days!


Make your own rainstick! Is a rainstick a HIT, SHAKE or SCRAPE percussion instrument? These videos are a few examples of how to make percussion instruments from normal recyclables we have around the house. What other instruments can you make that you can HIT, SHAKE or SCRAPE and sometimes RUB? Send me a photo or video of your percussion instrument at


Let’s Play Along

Playing with others: Ok, now that you have your instruments, let’s make some music. Percussion instruments are used to create RHYTHM or the patterns of music. Play along to “Alla Turca” by the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. “All Turca” is sometimes called the “Turkish Rondo” because the Form (the way the music is put together) keeps going back and repeating the beginning, like a circle. Pick a color/shape to play along with and hit, shake or scrape your instrument whenever the color ball reaches the bottom of the screen. Grab others to help and make your own percussion band.


Playing alone: Pick the percussion instrument that matches the instrument you made from the percussion pizza. Then, play along with that instrument every time it joins in the groove. Can you play the same pattern as the instrument on the screen? Can you create your own pattern? If you create your own, can you right it out in the musical symbols we use on Patty’s Pattern in class?




Don’t forget to get your Freaky Friday’s in while at home! I would hate anyone missing an opportunity to Shake Your Groove Thing!!!

3rd-5th: Disco was an American style of music that lived (and died) in the 1970’s. Disco was a lifestyle for those who enjoyed it and you wouldn’t just listen to the music, you learned the dance moves and even wore the disco clothes each night to the dance club. So breakout your leisure suit, tell your parents to join and channel their inner John Travolta!!



Answer Key to Week Five! (Instrument Families Treasure Hunt and Camille Saint-Saens)

Drumroll…..the answers to the treasure hunt can be found here >  Treasure Hunt answers!

And the mystery music by Camille Saint-Saens? Did you figure out what animal it was? It definitely had low sounds and was at a slow tempo…that’s right! It was the elephant! 🙂

Digital Learning Week Five

Hello, Mt. Bethel Buccaneers, Ms. Sheppard here! This week I’ll be posting music activities and videos to the blog; check back often, since I will be adding new things to this post as the week goes on!

Corner for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders 

Foley Artist Sound Effects + Choir (ESGM5.CN.1b, ESGM4.CN.1b, ESGM3.CN.1b: Discuss connections between music and disciplines outside the fine arts.)

Remember last week when we explored how Foley artists use sound to create effects in movies? Here is a choir that decided to incorporate the same idea of sound effect into their performance of Toto’s Africa. What sounds do you hear? Do you think the choir’s use of sound effects enhanced their performance?

Create the Soundtrack of Your Life (ESGM5.CR.2, ESGM4.CR.2, ESGM3.CR.2: Compose and arrange music within specified guidelines)

If you created your own soundtrack, what would it be like? Would it be dramatic? Chill? Edgy? Adventurous? Relaxing? Just plain fabulous? Did you know that you can combine new instruments, genres, and sounds in Live Loops in the Garageband app to make a your own personal soundtrack? Not only that, you can record it and save it to share! I know Mrs. Gardner is super excited to hear what you come up with! Rock, Hip Hop, Electronic, Orchestral, Piano..the possibilities are endless!!

Here’s how to do it:

Here’s a sample below of one that was made by tapping “New” and adding 4 different loops at different times from the “orchestral” category: Courier Strings, Oath, Pursuit, and Vigilante. It reminds me of hiking a mountain…or maybe cleaning the bathroom (hey, a good soundtrack helps with anything!) 🙂 Do you hear where the percussion instruments come in? That’s the claves and African talking drums.


Instrument Families Treasure Hunt (Standard ESGM3.RE.1c, ESGM4.RE.1c, and ESGM5.RE.1c: Identify and classify orchestra instruments by sight and sound)

I know that at Mt. Bethel, Ms. Gardner loves introducing you all to the different instruments and instrument families of the orchestra. Since many orchestras are going digital with virtual videos, this gives us an opportunity to see each member of the orchestra up close and personal! So we’re going on a treasure hunt in this performance of Ravel’s Bolero performed by the NY Philharmonic and edited on audio and video software by Isaac Trapkus (their bass player) and Kyle Zerna (their percussionist). This is how it works: I give you a timestamp and something to look for at that timestamp. You can print out the worksheet (Instrument Families worksheet), answer the questions, and send a picture to Mrs. Gardner at Then later this week I will post the answers to the blog. Here we go!

Bonus question: This composer (Maurice Ravel) chose to layer in instruments one by one and to highlight each instrument family. Why do you think he made this decision? Does this choice of the composer create a feeling or mood?

Corner for Kindergarteners, 1st, and 2nd graders 

Introducing Jason the Turtle! (Standard ESGMK.PR.1a, ESGM1.PR.1a, ESGM2.PR.1a: Sing simple accompanied and unaccompanied melodies in a limited range, using head voice)

Draw a Melody with Tune Train (Standard ESGMK.PR.3 and ESGM1.PR3: Read and Notate music, including simple melodic contour representations)

Tune Train allows you to create your own melody (or “tune) by choosing which direction the melody goes: up or down. Then you can add a backing track to see what it sounds like!

Here’s how to do it:

Making Camille Saint-Saens’ Animals Come Alive! (Standards ESGMK/1/2.RE.1b, ESGMK/1/2.RE3b: Describe music using appropriate vocabulary, Perform choreographed and non-choreographed movements to music)

Hmmm…do you remember what animal Mr. Camille Saint-Saens wrote music about, that was very FORTE? (not piano, like the kangaroo). Watch the video and let’s listen and act out this animal together!

And now, I have a new animal for you: can you guess what it might be by listening to the music? Answer coming soon, so make a guess quick!! 🙂 Remember, we listen to the music to find out what animal it might be. Is it a big animal? What does a big animal sound like? A slow tempo or a fast tempo? High notes or low notes? Long notes or short notes? Forte or piano?


Digital Learning Week Four

Star Wars meet…the RECORDER!!!!

Body Percussion Imperial March

Use your body as an instrument. Each body part can make a different sound and produce some very fun combinations. Follow along with John Williams “Imperial March” with your body sounds by making the rhythms when the notes change color.

Music Careers in Hollywood

Music and the production of sound are booming careers in the movie making industry. There are very few movies who don’t utilize a soundtrack created by composers like John Williams. But, did you know that even common everyday sounds in a scene are created in a studio too? On location of a movie set, it is not always possible for the microphones to pickup all the sounds needed in a scene. These sounds are often added in something called post production. Post production is after the film has been recorded but before it is finished to go to the movie theaters. 

LEARN: Below is a video about Foley Artistry.  A Foley Artist is a person who creates the sound effects in a movie. Watch the video and see how they turn everyday objects into movie sound magic!


CREATE: Turn ON your favorite movie and turn OFF the sound. Using objects around you (or even your voice) create your own sound effects for what is going on in the scene. Try different sound effect, even ones that don’t match the action, and see how it changes the mood/feeling of the scene. You can even make up your own dialogue/words for the characters to say. Have fun being the sound director in your version of the movie.

Stop Motion Creation Project

Have you ever dreamed about being a director of a movie? Directors have a big job to decide how the music, the sound effect, dialogue, and scenes go together to create a finished project. Here is a video where the director used a production method called stop motion animation. Stop Motion is when a scene is created by moving parts of the scene in small sections to make it look like the objects are moving by themselves. Watch the video below to see an example of a stop motion music video.

CREATE: Stop motion is an easy way to become a director of your own movie. Pick a section of  a song, any song, and make your own stop motion animation video to go with it. Recruit your siblings to help, grab things from the toy box and get creative! You can record using iMovie OR use the FREE app Stop Motion Studio. Both apps will allow you to photograph each scene and add audio to make your project. Need some ideas? Checkout the Mt. Bethel art room blog at where Mrs. Astorga has posted many examples of things you can use around the house to create your project. Here is a “How To” video for Stop Motion Studio if you need help working the app. Be sure to email your finished project so I can enjoy it too!

How To Use Stop Motion Studio:

Digital Learning Week Three

This week we are focusing on one of my favorite composers Mr. John Williams. A Composer is a person who writes music. Like an author writes books a composer write songs. While you may not know John Williams by name, I know you have heard his songs. Williams writes mostly for movies including all the movies pictured here. Have you seen any of these movies? I bet you have! This week and the week after spring break, I am going to share with you works of Mr. Williams and pull back the curtain behind the scenes of music and movie making.

Meet John Williams

Here is brief history about the life and career of John Williams.


John Williams Home Movies and MOOD

This is a cool home movie of John Williams and director Steven Spielburg working on the film E.T. in the early 1980’s. Here we see how film composers work through their ideas with the director. The machine they are looking at is a film projector. It is playing the final cut E.T. and Williams is talking through the emotions of the scene to decide how the music can help the MOOD of the action. Mood is the emotion or feeling of a song.  Have you ever noticed how music can give you different feelings? Are there songs that you listen to when you feel happy and different songs you listen to when you are sad? As a film composer, it is very important to know what kind of mood the director is wanting. The music’s mood can even give you a clue about underlying moods such as when a character on the screen may look like he is a “good guy” but the mood of his music gives you the feeling that he is really a “bad guy” in disguise.


Star Wars Dance Challenge

RESPOND: Even though we can’t have Freaky Friday together, doesn’t mean you can’t get dancing at home! I will warn you, Darth Vader is bringing it with this dance routine. Watch the rolling screen on the left to see what dance move is coming next. See if you can keep up and if not…just use The Force and dance like no ones watching!!


The Cello 

The Cello is the 3rd largest instrument in the string family. In class, we call her Mama Cello because her sound is warm and soothing.The Cello looks like a violin but is MUCH larger and can not sit on your shoulder but instead is played between the knees. Below is a video of a great Cello player by the name of Steve Nelson. He is a member of the group The Piano Guys who do really cool videos and concerts around the world. He is playing a Star Wars Medley. A medley is a song that is made up of songs already composed by someone else. Medley’s take the best parts of those songs and turn them into something new. The Cello he plays here is an electric Cello, thats why it looks so futuristic. But look out for Chewbacca, he will have a more traditional Cello to play.


The Orchestra and What Do Your Ears See?

CREATE: Ok, now it’s time to make something new. I want you to imagine that Mr. John Williams has brought you this song that he composed. He wants you to be the movie producer and decide what is going on in your movie where this song would play. Play the video below, close your eyes and listen to the instruments. What is the mood of this song? If I were watching your movie with this song playing, what would be going on in the scene? Print out the worksheets below and draw a picture of your scene and tell me what is happening in your movie. I would love to see your finished work! Take a picture and email it to me:

What do your ears hear worksheet

Happy Weekend from Ms. Sheppard and the harp

Happy weekend, Mt. Bethel Buccaneers! It’s time for a reel!!

In my video, I talked about Irish sessions (gatherings of people making music) and how they can happen anywhere. The video below from a few years ago show Irish musicians having a blast playing on the subway train in London, the Piccadilly line!

They are playing at a very fast tempo, but if you say “rashers and sausages” at a very fast tempo, it goes along with the rhythm of the melody. Can you try it? What type of tune would that be?

Digital Learning Week Two

Another week of long distance music making and boy it is getting lonely around here!  You know what I say, “Music is BETTER… when we do it… TOGETHER!” and I do miss making music with you Buccaneers. Danny Kat is great company, but he just doesn’t have the same singing voice as you guys! LOL



This week we are sending out for a little help and recruiting some masters of organizing children all over the country. First, is Mrs. Juliette Gordon Low. Many of you may already know her name and not be sure why. Juliette was born during the American Civil War right here in Savannah, Georgia (another one of our Famous Georgians from history 2nd grade). As a young women, Juliette traveled. On her trip to England she met Lord Baden-Powell who is the founder of The Boy Scouts. She was inspired by the work of his boys and the two became good friends. Juliette realized that there was a need for creating a scout group for girls. As the Boy Scout popularity grew at home, leaders found that little sisters were begging to join their brothers troops. So in 1915 she founded the Girls Guide Group in her home town of Savannah. Today they are known as the  Girl Scouts of America and both of these organizations have multiple troops all over our country.







Scouts spend time together learning different skills and enjoying weekends going camping. And what better thing to do around the campfire than to share stories and (you guessed it) sing campfire songs! These songs can include silly words, tell stories or share a moral. Most of them will include a part where everyone can sing-a-long with simple words that are easy to repeat. In music we call this a refrain. A REFRAIN is the part of the song that repeats. It is the part you normally learn the quickest and gets stuck in your head long after the song is done. 

Or, campfire songs will have only simple words that repeat and that are easy for everyone to sing. That is the case with our song for this week called “Make New Friends.” This song comes from the Girls Scouts and is a favorite way to end meetings and get togethers.  Ms. Sheppard is going to share this song with you and even teach you how to do the American sign language to go with it!!



ROUNDS and Remix

“Make New Friends” is a short simple song. To make a simple song longer and more interesting we can make it into a round. A Round is when two or more groups do the same thing but start at different times. You may have done this before with the song “Row Row Row Your Boat” where one friend begins after another friend.

PERFORM: Click on the video below to hear “Make New Friends” in a round. Pick one part and try to sing-a-long with the round. Can you hear how the parts overlap and yet sound good together?

This video also includes a remix of this song at the end. A Remix is when you take a song a change it up into a new song that has parts from the first song. 4th graders: A remix is a modern-day version of Theme and Variation.



Another form of remixing music is making a parody. A Parody is when you take an existing musical idea and change it, normally with new musical words called lyrics. Most parodies are meant to be funny but others use familiar tunes to help us remember important information. Has there been a time your teacher has used a parody to help you remember important facts for class?  I know Mrs. Sides 4th grade class does A LOT of parody songs because they share them with me at music. They are so great!

ANALYZE: Listen to the parody song below. Do you know the title of the original song used here? Who is the original performer of the song?

CREATE: Can you make your own parody? They don’t have to be long. You can pick parts of a familiar song, maybe use only the refrain and create new lyrics for it. Get creative! You can get your family involved or call a friend and compose your new work together. Make a recording, make costumes or props, record a music video, design a band poster with your new song title… just don’t forget to share!  I would love to hear/see what new fun parody song you come up with





Campfire songs have been around for much longer than the Scouts have been singing them. These songs go as far back as the cowboys of the wild west. Today we call these songs Cowboy Ballads and when I hear them, I can’t help but see the rolling plains and hear the coyote howl.

CONNECT: Here is a video by Disney of a song in the Cowboy Ballad style. Is this song fast or slow? Do the men sing the same melody at the same time or different melodies at the same time? What instrument is being played? Don’t miss the singing horses, they are my favorite part!


Campfire songs can also be used for fun to get you up and dancing!!! “A Ram Sam Sam” has fun movement. But watch out, to be a Ram Sam master…you gotta go a little faster!! When music gets fast we call that, accelerando.

CONNECT: Watch the video below and try to sing and dance along. Good luck with the accelerando!

PERFORM: “Boom Chicka Boom” is an echo song like we enjoy doing in class. I hope you have fun with all these silly ways to use your voice.

CREATE: Make up your own “style” of voice to perform “Boom Chicka Boom” then teach it to a family member or call and challenge a friend. What kind of dance moves would you make up for this song? What was your favorite voice style? Record what you created and email to me!!

Digital Learning Week One

Hello Buccaneers, 

We hope you are all well this morning and Ms. Sheppard and I send you our best! For music this week, we hope that you have some fun finding music around the house and singing songs that make you happy. Below are different games, videos and things for you to enjoy.

It is time to explore our home and find music in the most unexpected places. Lets go on a musical scavenger hunt:

  1. Find something that makes sound when you shake it.
  2. Find something that makes a deep/low sound when you strike it.
  3. Find something that makes a bright/high sound when you strike it.
  4. Find something that makes sound when you rub it.
  5. Are there any traditional instruments in your home? Can you or someone in your home play them with you or for you?
  6. Sing a song to a family member?
  7. DANCE BREAK: Put on your favorite song and get your boogie-woogie on!!
  8. Take the object you found earlier and use your new “instrument” to play along to your favorite song.

Note to parents: Here are some examples of things your student can use to make sound. Let them try to find something first, but if they can’t guide them to items like:

Shake: coffee tin, cereal box, water bottle, bag of Lego, bag of rice

Hit: table, pot, trash can, box

Rub: Sofa, Bed, fabric, textured surfaces



Watch this great video of the orchestra. How many instruments can you identify? Do you know anyone who plays one of these instruments?  Did you learn a new instrument?


3rd grade, do you remember the note speller game we played in class?  Play it again with the link below. 4th and 5th, try your note name skills out to see how many of these words you can spell too!

5th grade, last week we talked about jazz and some of you came up to the front to improvise a solo “call” on your recorder while the rest of the class played a “response.” We also defined and sang a song in call and response when we explored African American worksongs at the beginning of March. This video is a performance just a few years ago by a jazz band based in Barcelona, Spain, Sant Andreu Jazz Band. entirely made up of ages 7 to 20. That means that even 2nd graders at Mt. Bethel would be old enough to play in this band!

Listen and see if you can identify which instruments play improvised solos. What instrument has a solo at 1:17? What about 2:21? What about 6:31? Can you find other solos? Did you enjoy some solos more than others, and why? What two instruments start the piece (0:07-0:14) and end the piece and play the entire time?

Do you think the band director has a good relationship with his band members, like Benny Goodman did with his band? How can a band director show respect for his band?

For an extra challenge, see if you can find on your own the part where the piano and band go back and forth, with the piano playing short solo improvisations and you hear a repeated response from the saxophones, trombones, and trumpets (call and response). Hint: it’s near the beginning.


What a silly story about a frog and a mouse getting married!!! Folk songs are songs sung by people for many years. Folk is another word for people and song is another word for music. So a Folk Song means People Music! This song has silly words. Can you pick up on the silly words and sing-along? Grab a partner and try the folk dances you see.  Look at all those folk instruments! What instruments do you know? 1st and 2nd graders, look for the xylophone.

It is Music Show Time!! Mike and Luigi are here with their friends to teach us about the musical words for Loud, medium and Soft. In music we call the volume of the sounds the musics Dynamic. Forte means LOUD!!! Piano means soft or quiet. Mezzo means medium, not too loud or quiet.  Which sounds in your house are forte and which sounds are piano. Mrs. Gardners house is very piano this morning because (even though it is almost lunch time) she is the only one awake. I hear Mr. Gardners salt water aquarium  making a mezzo (medium) humming and bubbling sound. Uh oh…things just got forte (loud) because Danny Kat just walked in and wants to be fed again. Danny is ALWAYS forte when it is time for more food, silly cat!! Have fun finding forte, mezzo and piano sounds around your house today.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Ms. Sheppard and harp!

Hi Mount Bethel Buccaneers!!

It’s Ms. Sheppard, Mrs. Gardner’s student teacher, stopping by the blog to say hi!

I was thinking about you all and missing making music in Mrs. Gardner’s room with all of you, so I thought I’d share two of my favorite things: Irish music and my harp!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! 🙂


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