PS 22 Chorus- "Don't Stop Believin'"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Family Field Trip

It's the time for field trips, right?  The Keller family took a field trip last weekend to Springfield, Illinois where we stepped back in time to experience the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.  If you haven't been, we can recommend the highly entertaining Lincoln Museum.  Totally new, it is a state of the art tribute to a man who was viciously maligned in the media during his lifetime.  It was only until his death that people began to see him as the saviour of our country.  Also not to be missed is the Dana Thomas house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Here are some pictures.

                                                     2 pictures of the Dana Thomas house

               Lincoln's tomb - Lincoln, his wife, and 3 of his 4 children are entombed here

Inside the Lincoln Museum

The Museum on the left, the Presidential Library on the right

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pence Spring Program

Kindergarten and First Grade students, parents, friends and relatives gathered in a warm Pence gym on Tuesday, May 15 to watch the spring program.  Featured were songs about all things spring, including titles like "Spring is in the Air", "Each of Us is a Flower" and "Ladybug in My Soda."  Students (and possibly audience members) also got an education on the definition of the term Onomatopoeia when the First Grade sang the song "Onomatopoeia."  Fun was had by all as the audience watched the students sing out with joy!
Anyone who didn't get a printed program and wants one for their scrapbook, I have a few extras.  Email me if you want one and I can send it home with your student.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

FHS Music Department Competes at State Large Group Contest

On Friday, May 4, approximately 200 FHS musicians traveled to Fort Madison High School to compete in the Iowa High School Music Association's Large Group Contest.  Concert Band, Women's Choir, Men's Choir and Chamber Choir all received Division I ratings.  For this contest, groups perform for three judges.  Ratings are awarded based on an average of the three judges' ratings.  Each of the Fairfield ensembles received at least one perfect score (40 points) for their performance.  Several performance centers around the state accomodate class 1A-4A schools during a 2-day span.  Schools performing at the Fort Madison center were Fairfield, Keokuk, Ft. Madison, Burlington Notre Dame, WACO, New London, Danville, and Holy Trinity Catholic.  Fairfield's Bands are under the direction of Aaron Adam and Jim Edgeton.  Vocal Directors are Connie Keller and Zach Reiter.  Videos of the choir performances can be found on Youtube by typing Fairfield High School choirs in the search box.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pence Spring Concert

Here are a few photos of the Kindergarten and First Graders at Pence rehearsing for their spring concert on May 15.  For many, this is their first experience performing on choir risers for a large audience.  So we practice learning the correct way to stand,  what to do with our bodies, and how to enter and exit the stage, as well as perfecting the music we will be singing.  We Sing of Spring!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Did You Know?

Did you know?...
     The scores of elementary instrumental music students on standardized math tests increased with each year they participated in the instrumental program.
                                                     -"Music Training Helps Underachievers,"  Nature, May 26, 1996.

     On the 1999 SAT, music students continued to outperform their non-arts peers, scoring 61 points higher on the verbal portion and 42 points higher on the math portion of the exam.
                                            -Steven M. Demorest and Steven J. Morrison, "Does Music Make you 
                                             Smarter?", Music Educators Journal, September 2000.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Street Corner Symphony Comes to the Sondheim Theatre

On Saturday, March 17, a cappella mens' sextet Street Corner Symphony performed at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts to an enthusiastic, sold-out audience.  This group was the runner-up in season one of NBC's TV hit show "The Sing-Off."  Audience members were treated to an exciting performance that contained songs from country to pop to gospel, allowing the group to show off their considerable vocal talents.  This Nashville group is comprised of two sets of brothers, one of which are the grandchildren of legendary gospel singer Bill Shaw from The Blackwood Brothers.  Fairfield High School's jazz choir, Jazz Ex., was thrilled to be the opening act for the show.  They also sang with SCS on two of their songs, which, judging from the students' facebook posts, they found extremely exciting.  Life-changing, in fact.  This writer is gratified to add that John, the group's tenor, gave a plug for the importance of high school choir in honing skills necessary for performing groups everywhere.  He added the enrichment music gives to peoples' lives is immeasurable, and urged the audience to continue to support their high school musicians.  Well-sung, Street Corner Symphony!  Below is a pic of SCS with FHS' singers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pence Spring Program

It's time once again to celebrate all things spring with song!  The Pence Kindergartens and First Grades will be presenting their spring program on Tuesday, May 15 at 7:00 pm in the Pence Gym.  Entitled "We Sing of Spring", it features music about all things spring.  The students have been working hard on their music, and are excited to share it with friends and family!  Come and join us!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fairfield Singers Snag Three Spots in All-State Jazz Choir

Fairfield High School students Max Sloat, Haven Tichy and Claudia Sloat were chosen for the Iowa All-State Jazz Choir when auditions were held March 27th at Wartburg College.  Michael Gookin and Baylee Bowman were chosen as alternates.  According to FHS director Zach Reiter, Fairfield tied with 2 other schools getting the most singers into the elite group.  The choir, consisting of 20 singers, performs annually at the Iowa Choral Director's Symposium in Mason City in July.  This year the group will be rehearsed and directed by Dr. Lee Nelson, head of choral activities at Wartburg College in Waverly.  The students rehearsed diligently for the rigorous audition process which is as follows:  auditions began in the morning with one judge adjudicating each voice part.  The top singers were recalled and evaluated by the entire judging panel during the afternoon, with the announcement of the members selected being made during the Iowa Vocal Jazz Championships Awards Ceremony in the evening.   Singers were judged in the categories of Time/Feel, Intonation, Accuracy, Tone Quality, Scales, Sight-Reading and Jazz Concepts.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fairfield High School Musicians Receive Outstanding Performer Awards

On Saturday, March 24, Fairfield High School hosted the Iowa High School Music Association's Solo/Ensemble Contest.  Area 3A schools' musicians performed in various vocal and instrumental ensembles and solos for a judge and a rating.  Fairfield had 2 instrumental centers and 1 vocal center in which the judge can give an Outstanding Performer Award to that soloist or group which he or she felt was the best of the events they heard all day. FHS senior Matt McCan received this award in center 3 for his trumpet solo, and the FHS women's choir received this award in center 1.  Fairfield's 15 vocal events received all I ratings, which is probably a first in FHS' history.  Fairfield's instrumental events received 10 I ratings and 5 II ratings.  Recipients of the Outstanding Performer Award have the honor of performing in a showcase recital at Iowa State University on Wednesday, May 9.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Here are 2 photos of Mr. Strickler's 4th grade at Pence playing their recorders.  The students are learning many things about music while having fun playing as an ensemble.  And they're doing a great job!  Way to go 4th graders!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Freshmen Participate in Solo/Ensemble Contest


Eleven FHS freshmen singers participated Saturday, March 10 in the Iowa Choral Director’s Association Solo/Ensemble contest held at Fairfield Middle School.  The students sang in two ensembles, and four students also sang a solo.  The students were given a rating from a judge of I (Superior), II (Excellent) or III (Good) based on the categories of Tone Quality, Intonation, Dynamics, Rhythmic Accuracy, and Musical Expression.  The students also received a ballot with constructive comments from the judge on their areas of strengths and weaknesses.   Freshman Ensemble received a II (Excellent) rating, and Girls Ensemble received a I (Superior) rating.  Soloists who performed were Sidney Adam, Elena Hirschmann, Tracy Andermann, and Dakota Webber.   Also participating were vocalists from Ottumwa, WACO, and Van Buren Community Schools.  The contest, for grades 7-9, is intended to prepare young singers for the more rigorous standards they will encounter in the High School State Solo/Ensemble contest sponsored by the Iowa High School Music Association.

FRESHMEN ENSEMBLE - March 10, 2012
Left to right:  Ashley Nelson, Elena Hirschmann, Leonor Gonzalez, Kayla Wald, Drew Grunwald, Gareth West, Alexis Ring, Tracy Andermann, Sidney Adam, Dakota Webber, Meghan Shelangoski


Monday, March 5, 2012

Note Name Board Races

Here is Ms. Ritland's class at Pence doing note name board races.  We divided into 2 teams to see who could earn the most points in this relay race.  Objective:  learning the note names on the treble clef.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Building a Bridge - a River of Sound

Here is the second grade at Pence working on their "rivers of sound."  The children laid out their "river", then conducted their classmates in performing their rivers of sound with their voices.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fairfield High School Pops Concert

Right around the corner is the Fairfield High School Pops Concert, scheduled for Tuesday, February 28 at 7:30 pm in the high school auditorium.  Featured will be all kinds of popular music, as the name implies.  This is the students' chance to sing, dance and play recent popular music, which fits in with the music department curriculum of exposing music students to varied genres.

The ensembles that will be performing that night are the FHS Concert Band, Jazz Band, Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Select Choir, the 2 Jazz Choirs (Jazz Ex. and The Raw Notes), and the men's ensemble (GYZ). These groups are under the direction of Jim Edgeton, Zach Reiter and Connie Keller.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

National Anthem at UNI/Creighton game February 4, 2012

Here is a video of Rachel Keller (Elementary Ed. major) and Roman Royer (Business major) singing the National Anthem at the UNI/Creighton men's basketball game on Saturday, February 4, 2012.  The McLeod Center was packed, so a great opportunity for the singers.  The mic cut out on them a couple of times - that's why it's hard to hear them in a few places in the song.  A great picture of Greg McDermott, don't you think?  Happily, UNI won the game with a last-second 3 point buzzer beater.  Needless to say, the place was MAYHEM at that point!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Playing Instruments and Reading Rhythms

Two things that we have been working on in Pence music classes are playing rhythm instruments and learning to read different rhythm patterns.  Playing the rhythm instruments is something most students like to do, and it helps them start learning about beat and rhythm patterns.  This is incorporated into many of the daily lessons we do in music.
Also important to the budding music student is the skill of reading rhythm patterns.  To do this, the student must know what the different kinds of notes are, and what value is given each.  Class activities are periodically focused on this, starting with the basic and progressing to the complex.  As the student's skill grows, he will be able to more fully enjoy listening to and performing music.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Time to Order Recorders

An update on the 4th grade recorders at Pence:
Mr. Strickler's class has turned in the most recorder papers (Yea, Kids!)  Only 3 more of them need to turn in papers.
Mrs. Freeman's class has 6 more papers to be returned.
Mr. Boatright's class has 8 more papers to be returned.
Get those recorder papers in soon, kids, so we can get started!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Advantages of Music Listening

Did you know...
Medical researchers have reported that subjects lowered both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure as much as five points (mm/Hg) and reduced heart rates by four to five beats per minute following music listening sessions.  People with high blood pressure can help keep their blood pressure down by listening to relaxing low frequency music in the morning and evening.
-Tony Wigram, "The Psychological and Physiological Effects of Low Frequency Sound and Music,"  Music Therapy Perspectives, 1995.

Did you know...
Students with good rhythmic performance ability can more easily detect and differentiate between patterns in math, music, science, and the visual arts.
-"Rhythm seen as key to man's evolutionary development," TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.

Did you know...
Students in arts programs are more likely to try new things, and they can better express their own ideas to friends, teachers, and parents.
-Champions of Change, the President's Council on the Arts and Humanities, 1999.

Monday, January 9, 2012

3rd Grade Begins Learning Note Names

The Pence 3rd graders have started learning about note names on the treble clef.  This is part of a skill set needed to become a music reader.  Also, they will need to know this in order to play recorders in 4th grade, and it will carry over as they continue enjoying and performing music.  The students will be doing activities throughout the remainder of the year that reinforce the note names.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

It's Recorder Time!

             Below is a letter that was sent home this week with the Pence 4th graders that introduces our recorder unit in music class.  Please make sure your child's name is on the form when it gets returned to school.
                                                                                                January 3, 2012
                                                                                                Pence Elementary
Dear 4th Grade Families,
            This year our fourth graders will be playing the recorder in music class.  The recorder is a true instrument with a flute-like tone which has been in use for centuries.  It is played and enjoyed as a hobby by many adults as well as children.
            Since excellent plastic recorders are available at a low price, we offer its study in our fourth grade classes.  Student plastic recorders may be purchased through the school for $2.00.  If a recorder can be bought from another child or you have one in the family, please indicate below.  If you do not wish to purchase an instrument your child may borrow one from the school.
            Please return the bottom portion so I will know how many new recorders to order.    I will tell each class at school when to bring their money.
            Please encourage your child to practice and play for you!

                                                                                                Mrs. Keller
                                                                                                Music Teacher
  Please no checks!!  Cash only.

We would like our child________________________________________________
to learn to play a recorder in music class.

              Check one:
_______We have a recorder.

_______We will pay $2.00 for a student plastic recorder ordered through the school.

_______We would like to borrow a recorder from the school.