Elementary Strings Newsletter

March 6 - 10

T-shirts are still available!

If you did not have a chance to order a t-shirt, the order form has been extended! Click the button to access the group order form.

Updates and Events

String Spectacular: All String Students in Watertown!

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

  • The String Spectacular is our district-wide string concert, featuring all students from grades 4 - 12. It is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4th, 2023, beginning at 7:00 PM. Students should arrive by 6:30. This concert will be about an hour long.

  • We will have a dress rehearsal from 2:45 - 4:00 on the same day (April 4) so that we can practice bringing all 130 of our elementary students together and playing on stage. This dress rehearsal is highly encouraged but we understand that not all of our elementary students are able to get over to the HS at that time.

  • Students are bringing home a flyer this week, but there are digital copies here.

BSO Symphony Trip
  • Students who have not yet turned in a permission slip need to do so by their next lesson (hard deadline of Friday, March 17).
  • I emailed a group of parent chaperones just after February break with some directions about filling out and submitting the CORI to the front office. I am currently holding on additional chaperones until the kids finish turning in their permission slips.

Schedule Changes - ACO and MCAS Testing

  • All City Orchestra is BACK! I anticipate we'll be able to continue meeting without issue for the remainder of the year.

MCAS Testing will impact our lesson schedules this spring, so some lesson days will change.
MARCH: (Next week)
  • HOSMER WEDNESDAY students will meet on Monday, March 13, 2023, instead of Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
  • CUNNIFF THURSDAY students will meet on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, instead of Thursday, March 16, 2023.
  • HOSMER WEDNESDAY students will meet on Monday, April 10th, 2023, instead of. Wednesday, April 12, 2023
  • HOSMER WEDNESDAY 5th Graders will meet on Monday, May 22, 2023, instead of Wednesday, May 24, 2023 (4th grade will still meet on that Wednesday)
  • CUNNIFF 5TH GRADE students will not meet on Thursday, May 25, 2023

String Festival - Saturday, March 24th (Optional Orchestra Experience) in Billerica

This orchestra event will be held in Billerica on Saturday, March 24th. There are four levels that students can participate in, from beginner to advanced. This is a really neat program that is in its 42nd year of happening! Check it out HERE. Of note, this is not a Watertown-sponsored event, but an outside opportunity for students to get a new type of experience on their instrument.

Note Reading Game

  • Staff Wars is an interactive app-based game to help students learn how to read the notes on their staff. It is $0.99. Absolutely not required, but a fun learning tool if interested.
  • Apple devices
  • Android devices

MusicFest is Back!

MusicFest is a lively and eclectic evening of music with performances on multiple stages. What makes MusicFest so great is the participation of a variety of performers. We often have professional ensembles and students from local conservatories along with
high school bands, student ensembles, and individual performers. CLICK HERE for the registration link. You may even see some familiar teacher faces performing that night!
Check Out What's Happening in Watertown!

Our Watertown Fine and Performing Arts Facebook page is consistently updated with events and highlights from the school day.

Let's Go On An Adventure!

Last year, we were awarded a grant to take the 4th and 5th-grade string students to see the Boston Symphony perform a program geared toward elementary students in the area. We have been awarded a similar grant this year and are very excited to be able to provide this opportunity to the students once again. This trip is not required.

In addition to the grant we have received from the Watertown Cultural Council, the Friends of Watertown Music has graciously offered to fund the remaining cost of the trip so that all students and chaperones can attend at no cost. This is an amazing gift! I try to mention the Friends in every s'more, but if you are interested in learning more about how you can be a part of this amazing parent organization, you can reach out to them at HelloWatertownMusic@gmail.com or call Chris Lowry at 617-923-0502. It is a low commitment with a high outcome! If you have already paid, I will return the check or cash to your child to bring home.

The trip details:

  • Thursday, March 30th, 8:30 am - 12 pm
  • Load bus 8:40 AM
  • Depart the school at 8:45 AM
  • Snack break and group photo at the reflection pool 9:15 - 9:45*
  • Concert 10 - 11 am
  • Back to school by noon
    • This trip impacts lunchtime, but we were able to work it out with the caf last year for students who needed/missed lunches.

*We will need a few extra snacks for students who forget their snacks that day. Last year, we brought veggie straws, popcorn, and small water bottles (mostly anything gluten and allergen-free). If any chaperones or families are willing to donate snacks for this event, please let me know.

Permission slips can be found in this folder. I've also passed out paper copies in class. I asked for the slips back by February 17, but not all students will have received their form with enough time to do that so can turn it in after break.

We will be accepting parent volunteers for chaperones. Parent/guardian volunteers will need to complete the following and turn them in to the school front office, which will do an ID verification when running the CORI:

If you're interested in reading more about this event, check out the Boston Symphony's info page here.



  • We are working on our bow holds in 4th grade!
  • Here is a Quiet Coyote Bow Hold video for students to reference
  • Here is a slideshow with very clear photos and directions for how to form a good bow hold
  • Once students are prepared to play their instrument with their bow, we will sign their bow license : )
Big picture
Up Like A Rocket
What Did We Do In Lessons This Week?

Click here to see what we worked on in lessons, and what you should practice!

Winter Concert S'mores

Click the links for concert performance videos:

Practice Club and All City Orchestra!

Practice Club: Mr. Frontz

Mr. Frontz leads our morning "practice club," an opportunity to practice your instrument, learn new music, and receive some individual instruction. This is not mandatory, as it is not a replacement for your regular school day lesson; however, it is a great opportunity to get some more time playing your instrument at school. Students must sign up in order to participate in this free practice club.

Hosmer students should enter through the doors leading into the cafeteria from outside. The door faces Mt. Auburn street. Students at Lowell W and Cunniff can enter through the main doors of the building.

  • Hosmer: Monday or Wednesday 7:45 - 8:15 AM in the caf (only the day of your lesson)
  • Lowell: Tuesdays 7:45 - 8:15 AM in the music room (you can join even if your regular lesson is on Fridays)
  • Cunniff: Thursdays 7:45 - 8:15 AM music practice room

All City Orchestra: Ms. Byham

All City Orchestra is an after-school group that meets on Tuesdays from 4:25 - 5:30. We meet in the Watertown Middle School auditorium. All students who are in 4th and 5th grade are welcome to join! There is no cost to be a part of this group. Sign up by clicking the button below!

Click Here To Sign Up!

Practice Club and All City Orchestra Sign Up Form

Local Symphony Performances

Being near the city we have lots of amazing orchestras performing all of the time! These groups are made up of community members; all musicians, but not all musicians in a professional sense. It's always amazing to see the Boston Symphony, but our local groups showcase how we can continue being musicians as a hobby throughout our lives, while still working in our chosen fields.

Private Lessons/Outside of School Opportunities

If your child is really enjoying playing their instrument and wants some additional play and instruction time outside of the school day, we recommend looking to private or small group lessons.

Here is a link to private teachers in the area

You can also check out Attacca School of Music in Belmont (at the Trapelo/Bartlett intersection near CVS) or Powers Music School in Belmont (on Concord Street near Belmont Center).

Other Stuff

Practice Page

Mr. Frontz put together a really helpful practice page for our students, especially our beginners. This page is basically how we start our class each lesson. We've given a copy to each student, but in case they lose it or want to look on their computer, here are the PDFs:

Friends of Watertown Music

The Friends of Watertown Music is a parent organization that has been a major supporter of the fine arts program in Watertown for over ten years. FoWM is beginning to plan for our first MusicFest since 2019 and invites all parents who would like to help in any way. Email HelloWatertownMusic@gmail.com or call Chris Lowry at 617-923-0502 to learn more.


We recommend students play their instrument 3+ times a week for at least 10 - 15 minutes each time to build muscle memory and reinforce habits taught in lessons. You can see what we worked on in lessons and what students should be practicing by clicking the button below.

Google Classroom

Students can join our Google Classroom by logging in to their Watertown email and clicking this button.

Class Schedule

Our lessons are grouped by classroom teacher. The schedule is as follows:

  • Mondays (Hosmer) are Spillane/Thiemann, Doherty, Bellis, and Twomey's classes
  • Tuesdays (Lowell West) are Corcoran, Spatz, and Burton's classes
  • Wednesdays (Hosmer) are Mattson, Stone, O'Leary, Psychoghios/Hogan, and Gill's classes
  • Thursdays (Cunniff) are all classrooms
  • Fridays (Lowell) are Antonellis, Sudbay, and Brodeur's classes

Our lessons take place in the first part of the school day, between 8:30 and 10 AM.

Meet Your Teacher - Mr. Frontz!

I'm Mr. Frontz, and I'm happy to be co-teaching elementary school strings in Watertown this year. In the last two years, I've graduated with my Masters degree in Music Education and my Bachelor's degree in Cello Performance from Boston University. I am a cellist as well as a general strings specialist, and I worked with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras for several years as a Cello Coach. I'm excited to teach students how to play their instruments, and hope to teach them to play songs they love as well as develop their technique.

Meet Your Teacher - Ms. Byham!

Culley Byham is one of our two string and orchestra teachers in the district. She grew up in Pennsylvania and began playing the viola in the third grade. She played in school and youth orchestras through elementary, middle, and high school before attending Penn State to study Music Education. Ms. Byham taught middle school music and orchestra in South Carolina for five years before moving to Watertown, where she is now in her tenth year of teaching music.

In addition to teaching, Ms. Byham has continued playing viola in community orchestras. She is currently a member of the Rivers Symphony and the Brookline Symphony here in the Boston area. She also enjoys taking long bike rides, walking her dog, and practicing photography.

Her absolute favorite thing about teaching string and orchestra classes is watching her students go from having no idea about the instrument, to being able to play with ease and confidence. She loves that she gets to work with the students for so long, seeing them grow and learn over the course of many years, making friends, and building community along the way.

About the Watertown Orchestra Program

Our string program in Watertown is open to all students in grades 4 - 12. Though we begin our program in the fourth grade, students can join in at any level - it's never too late! It is not necessary for students to know anything about music or playing an instrument in order to sign up, we'll teach them everything they need to know.