Instrument Families Unit

Dear Parents/Guardians of Pyron Cubs,

Over the last few weeks, the third and fourth graders of Pyron Elementary have been studying four instrument families: string, brass, woodwind, and percussion.  We have learned how these instruments make sound, how they are classified, and everyone got to hold and play a guitar!  One tool that we used is a video created by the Orchestra of Wales found on YouTube (LINK)     In this video we are given a “tour” of the orchestra and its instruments.  You could quiz your child by looking up these videos and playing portions of the music, asking them if they recognize the instrument family or individual instrument that is being played.

We ended the unit with a lesson on the human voice.  The ability to sing is often overlooked as a serious musical ability in young people.  Many think that if they cannot play an instrument then they are not a musician.  That is simply not true!  Our goal is to create music literacy in your child’s education, and help them grow comfortable with all instruments, including those in band, orchestra, choir, and found all the way across the world.

Your kids are incredibly talented, and it is my honor and privilege to work and learn with them everyday.  If you want to hear them demonstrate some things we have learned in class, ask them about these songs, “Stand Up, Sit Down”, “Madalina Catalina”, and “El barquito” (Spanish and English lyrics below).


Please feel free to email or call if you have any questions or comments., (870) 754-2591


It’s a great day to be a cub!  Have the best day of your life!!

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Musical Vocabulary!!


Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov


Allegro = Fast

Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy


Lento = Slow

 O Fortuna by Carl Orff


Forte = Loud



Nacht und Träume by Franz Schubert


Piano = Soft


  1. piano

  2. forte

  3. allegro

  4. lento

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Video Teach

9th Grade Girls’ Choir


Let’s watch the Kearnsey College Choir perform in the World Choir Games!  The World Choir Games is the world’s largest choir competition.  This video is from 2014, when it was hosted in Riga, Latvia.


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NAfME Fall InService 2015


Session 1- Developing Critical Thinkers in Elementary Music, presented by Dr. Cynthia Taggart from Michigan State University

During this first session, Dr. Taggart helped us understand the importance of a healthy balance of learning and performing in the music classroom.  If all of our focus is on either knowledge or performance, then our students will miss out on a well-rounded musical education.  The ideal balance is what she calls “informed practice.”  She demonstrated ways to introduce vocabulary through aural, oral, and movement activities.  One question that she said is very important in the music classroom is “What do you like, and why?”  Our objective as music educators is not to make our kids like music, it is to expose them to all music, let them decide what they like, and help them discover why they like it.


Session 2- Conducting and Laban, presented by Dr. Neale Bartee

During this session, Dr. Bartee explored the Laban movement theory with expression in conducting.  He divided the conducting sphere into four planes: sagittal (forward/backward), vertical, horizontal, and shape-flow (growing/sinking).  As a group, we experimented with using these four planes together to create a certain mood with our conducting.  He supervised us as we sang “My Country ’tis of Thee” and conducted ourselves in different styles, tempos, and dynamics.


Session 3- Teaching Toward Fluency in Music, presented by Brittany Osman, orchestra teacher at Lakeside School District

During this session, Ms. Osman shared her own personal experience as a classically trained musician learning to improvise and write her own music.  She sharedl stories from her students and used students’ work to demonstrate how placing the responsibility for learning on them, and not spoon-feeding them information, allows students to learn in a much more effective and long-lasting way.  She shared tools that she uses in her fifth grade general music class, and ways that she motivates and tracks the practicing of of her orchestra students.


Session 4- Orff, Koldaly, and Feierabend, presented by Dr. Becky Morrison from Ouachita Baptist University

Dr. Morrison shared her knowledge of Orff, Kodaly, and Feierabend to inspire us to continue our education, so that we can always enhance the educational experience of our students.  By having us participate in a few song/dance activities, she showed how effective simple learning activities can be in helping elementary and middle school students understand the musical elements and simple musical principles.

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Recorder Song #1

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Rethinking Music Education


Lindsay Walters, Music in the Elementary Classroom, Precis

1. Taylor, R. (2015, September). Rethinking music education in the 21st century. Segue, 28-30.

2. In this article by Rod Taylor called Rethinking music education in the 21st century, (September 2015) Taylor provided insight that supports teachers and encourages them to find effective and successful ways to communicate with their students, no matter how unconventional.

3. I found these points to be helpful and informative:

3.1. In music there are no beginners- using students’ previous music experience, however limited, to build confidence and musical fluency

3.2. Music education should privilege playing not just practicing- performing should be just as important as practicing

3.3. Students should actively participate in their own instruction- adapt to students’ changing learning styles, involve students more in their own instruction

3.4. Above all, listen- listening is a skill, not just in the ear training sense, but in an ability to adapt and play well in different surroundings

3.5. Music is emotion- music is more than reading notes or having good technique, it touches our souls and connects us to the world

4. This article has inspired me to become more knowledgeable about epistemology and musical pedagogy. Teaching is its own science, and it is one that constantly changes and improves to adapt to the ever-changing student population. I will use this article to help me develop lesson plans that are more interactive and involve performing as practice.

5. “Because playing well depends on so much more than just one’s technical skills, as educators we should spend significant time exploring the psychological and emotional aspects of music with our students” (page 30).

“Music is dynamic, and our lessons about it should be too” (page 30).

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SEGUE, September 2015

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