• David Coffin visits Hillside

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 4/21/2017

    On April 20th, Hillside students were treated to a maritime adventure with special guest David Coffin. Mr. Coffin brought everyone aboard the ship Imagination and shared the history of whaling, what a sailor’s life at sea would be like, and songs that accompanied their voyages around the world. In preparation for the assembly, the 4th graders learned the sea chanty “Roll the Old Chariots”. With Mr. Coffin at the helm, students added rhythmic and melodic accompaniments to the song and performed it for the whole school.  
    I would like to extend a special thank you to the Hastings PTSA for providing the grant that allowed us to invite Mr. Coffin to Hillside. 



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  • Instruments everywhere!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 2/26/2016



    Welcome back from winter break. I don't know if you feel it, but this year is flying by!


    Before break, everyone was working on different things. Now that we've returned everyone is starting our Instruments of the Orchestra unit. So far, all grades have been talking about the string and woodwind families. 


    Kindergartners are getting a basic overview of the instrument families. 1st graders are starting to develop vocabulary to differentiate which instruments belong in each family and use everyday vocabulary to describe each instrument in the family. 2nd graders and delving deeper into each instrument family comparing and contrasting each instrument and exploring some of the "spin off" (my own words to explain) instruments; for example the bassoon and contrabassoon or the flute and piccolo. We even checked out the ancient ancestor of the oboe, the shawm. (If you think the oboe has an annoying sound, wait till you hear the shawm!) 3rd and 4th graders, who already have the basic knowledge of instrument families and the instrument in each family, are digging a little deeper and discovering the technical and mechanical aspects of each instrument: What is a reed? How does a reed work? What do the keys do? How do the players change the sound of the instrument? How are the instruments made? How does a violin work?


    So far, the kids have been coming up with great questions that have brought us down some new and interesting paths. Have you ever heard of an Octobass? Check out the octobass on YouTube. Seeing and hearing the mechanics of the octobass spurred a discussion about how sound works and how the human ear interprets sounds in general and from instruments. 


    We've watched a short video example for each instrument. I try to find videos that present each instrument in a different way than might be expected. We watched a video of the Brooklyn Duo playing a cover of Sia's "Chandelier", a flutists playing a cover of Metallica's "Master of Puppets", and a violinist demostrating some fiddling mixed with a Bach Partita. But we've also checked out some classical examples of instruments. For example, watched a short excerpt of Martin Stegner playing Schumann's "Marchenbilder" on his viola (a must see for all viola fans....because it's the best instrument in the orchestra).


    Next up: Brass and percussion families.

    Post next up: Peter and the Wolf



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  • Welcome back to 2016!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 1/8/2016

    Welcome Back!


    I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing vacation and New Year. We're back to Hillside full momentum.

    4th and 3rd graders are studying Jean Sibelius. Sibelius is a Finnish composer who composed lots of music based on Finnish culture and political themes. We've already learned a few words and phrases in Finnish. Ask your young musician to introduce himself in Finnish! We will be looking at different aspects of Finnish geography and culture, the life of Jean Sibelius, and some of his most iconic works Lemminkainen's Return and Finlandia.

    Kindergarteners and 1st graders are starting animal adventures. We are going through Saint-Saens's Carnival of the Animals and checking out some of the featured instruments. We are also learning some fun animals songs to accompany our classical explorations.

    2nd graders are working on rhythmic standard notation. We are creating compositions using quarter notes and rests, and eighth notes. We will also practice reading and identifying the rhythms.


    Stay tuned as we move towards the end of the year!


    Ms. Concra


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  • Nutcracker Preparations

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 12/8/2015

    Our Nutcrackering Has Begun!!


    All grades are preparing to watch the Nutcracker, Hillside's preholiday tradition.

    Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders are doing active listening activities followed by movement activities that emphasize various elements in the music. Russian dancers give us great examples of accents. Waltz of the flowers gives us a great chance to talk about meters and practice our ballroom waltz moves. The March teaches us about structure and form and instrument families.

    While our tradition is to watch the George Balanchine's production of the Nutcracker, we are going to compare and contrast key iconic portions of Baryshnikov's production with the American Ballet Theatre, Helgi Tomasson's production with the San Francisco Ballet, and Mark Morris's modern dance version The Hard Nut. While the music stays the same, the interpretations of Tchaikovsky's classic vary greatly. We will be talking about the different aspects of a stage production and where variances can occur when given a set score.

    It wouldn't be the holiday season without an overdosing of The Nutcracker!


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  • Winter Fun!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 12/2/2015

    Snow Flakes


    And so it begins! Musical preparations for the wintery chilly weather.

    3rd and 4th graders are creating Winter Rhythmic poems using quarter, 8th, and 16th notes. Ask your 3rd/4th grader to read his/her poem for you. You'll be tempted to add a drum line behind their chilly words.

    Kindergarteners 1st graders are learning some winter poems, songs and dances that focus on voice control and body coordination as well as inspiring imagination about winter activities.

    2nd graders are starting Nutcracker maddness using listening glyphs. Students listen to the different movements of of the Nutcracker and color the pictures following the key. For example, if students hear a trumpet, they will coloring a part of the picture red. If they do not hear a trumpe, they will color it blue. At the end of the movement, students take home a colorful representation of music from the Nutcracker.




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  • Turkey Time!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 11/16/2015

    Onward from pumpkins to turkeys! Turkey this and turkey that! Let's give thanks and celebrate our heritage with music!


    Kindergarteners  and 1st graders are getting into the turkey mood with some Thanksgiving movement songs. Want to sing some songs at home? Try out "Turkey Looby Loo". It's like the Hockey Pokey but with turkey parts substituded for human body parts. Go ahead! Put your left wing in and flap it all about! We'll also be learning a turkey blues... Life is hard when you are accompanied by delicious sides like stuffing and mashed potatoes. Our older kids

    2nd graders are also getting into the Thanksgiving mood with a turkey game and some Thanksgiving songs. We've got a great song about American traditions and saying 'Thanks' for all our good furtunes.

    3rd and 4th graders are practicing simple rhythms with standard notation as they play a game and catch some rhythm turkeys. We'll also be singing some Thanksgiving songs and focusing on making our voices hit all the notes accurately.


    I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry.



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  • It's Halloween Time!!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 10/21/2015

    Spooky Scary

    It's time for Hillside to start sneaking into Halloween festivities and that include fun games and songs in music class!


    Kindergarteners and 1st graders are learning Ghosty Songs and playing singing and role playing games. Want to sing the songs at home? Here are a few lyrics:

    5 Little Ghosts

    • Five little ghosts dressed all in white Were scaring each other on Halloween night.
    • "Boo!" said the first one, "I'll catch you.'" (Hold up pointer)
    • "Wooo said the second, "I don't care if you do! (Hold up middle finger)
    • The third ghost said, "You can't run away from me." (Hold up ring finger)
    • And the fourth one said, "I'll scare everyone I see! (Hold up little finger)
    • Then the last one said, "It's time to disappear." (Hold up thumb)
    • "See you at Halloween time next year!"

    I Saw A Ghost

    • I saw a ghost (fingers circle eyes)
    • He saw me too (point to yourself)
    • I waved at him (wave your hand)
    • But he said, "BOO!" (try to scare person next to you)

    2nd graders are learning songs from Phantasmagoria by Kaye Umansky. Whether we're singing about ghosts, Big Foot, Dragons, or monsters under the bed, everyone gets a chance to singing, move, and play instruments.


    3rd and 4th graders are learning one of my favorite halloween songs: "This Is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is a really really tricky song to sing and the kids do a GREAT job learning, loving, and OWNING the music. Danny Elfman writes lots of twisty chromatic melodies with unexpected rhythms. 3rd and 4th graders are also working on songs from Umansky's Phantasmagoria and listening to spooky musical tales of ghosts and strange vistors.


    I hope everyone has a safe and happy happy spooky Halloween!

    Ms. Concra


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  • 10/19/15

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 10/19/2015


    Check out what's happening in music lately!!


    Kindergarteners and 1st graders decide what a sailor finds and can do at the bottom of the sea.

    A Sailor Went To Sea

    Kindergartener Sharks


    Dancing with Scarves


    3rd and 4th Grades Explore GroovyMusic.com

    • GroovyMusic is a cloud based composition program that allows students to compose their own music using animated graphics and preprogramed midi loops. 3rd and 4th grade students can use GroovyMusic at home by using Google Chrome (it only works with Google Chrome), going to www.groovymusic.com, and logging in using their username and password.

    Exploring Groovy Music

    Grovy Music On The Board






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  • Singing and on the move!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 10/16/2015
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  • Welcome!!

    Posted by Kathryn Concra on 10/12/2015 8:00:00 AM

    Welcome to the Hillside General Music blog!!

    Check here for updates about what's going on in Ms. Concra's music room. 


    3rd and 4th graders have been exploring graphic notation. This week we used Brian Eno and Peter Chilver's iPad app Scapes. Using different background patterns and generative and interactive shapes, student created their own soundscapes. Each soundscape is unique to each group. Here a few links to videos so you can see and hear the app in action.

    Soundscape Video 1                                              Soundscape Video 2                                      Soundscape Video 3


    Soundscape Picture 1 Soundscape Picture 2 Soundscape Picture 3


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