Elementary Strings Newsletter

November 21 - December 2

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.

It's Concert Season!


  • Lowell: Tuesday, December 13, 2022 8:45 - 9:30 AM @ Lowell West*
  • Hosmer: Wednesday, December 14, 2022 9:45 - 10:25AM @ Hosmer Elementary
  • Cunniff: Thursday, December 15, 2022 9:45 - 10:25 AM @ Cunniff Elementary

What To Wear: Your Watertown Performing Arts t-shirt! We have some shirts students can borrow for the performance, or students can wear a black shirt/sweater. We will set up another order in January for families who did not have a chance to order their shirts in September/October.

Parents are invited to join us for these concerts in person. We are also hoping to live stream this event on our Facebook Page for friends and family to watch from afar or later in the day.

*Lowell students should check in with their teacher upon arrival at school and then come straight to the performance space for tuning and warm-up

Other Updates and Events Coming Up!

Carol of the Bells

Our elementary students have been working on learning Carol of the Bells in lessons! We've been teaching it by ear, but some students have been asking for the sheet music. Linked below is the sheet music for Carol for each instrument:

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.

Whoville Jubilee - December 3rd

The WMS and WHS Orchestras will be performing at the Whoville Jubilee at the Commander's Mansion on Saturday, December 3 from 7:15 - 7:45. If you're attending the event, we'd love to see you! Here is the event information. The WMS choirs will also be performing at 6:45, right after the tree-lighting ceremony at 6:30!

Support The High School Ensembles! Ben & Jerry's Fundraiser - December 7, 5 - 7pm

The WHS Choirs, Bands, and Orchestras are going on a performance adjudication trip to New York City in the spring. This is a trip they've been doing every other year for nearly 25 years and are excited to get back to it after a few years' hiatus. They will be hosting a fundraiser night at Ben & Jerry's at Arsenal Yards on Wednesday, December 7. A portion of all sales made between 5 and 7 PM will go directly to this trip. If you're around, we'd love your support!


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.

What Did We Do In Lessons This Week?

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

Hot Cross Buns Play-A-Long Video: Melody, Harmony, and Bass Line (WHS Orchestra)

Hot Cross Buns Reference Video

We Love Music!

We are so fortunate to be able to support all of our students interested in music making by providing lessons for our elementary string students during their school day. We strive to be able to support our students in their musical endeavors in the most equitable ways possible. Here are some reasons why music learning is so beneficial to our students and why it's so important that everyone has the opportunity to explore their musical interests:

  • Musical training helps develop language and reasoning: Students who have early musical training will develop the areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. The left side of the brain is better developed with music, and songs can help imprint information on young minds.

  • Students learn to improve their work: Learning music promotes craftsmanship, and students learn to want to create good work instead of mediocre work. This desire can be applied to all subjects of study.

  • A mastery of memorization: Even when performing with sheet music, student musicians are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization can serve students well in education and beyond.

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.

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 (see a photo here). This door is accessible at the back of the parking lot off Boylston Street. Mr. Frontz will be there to let the children in. 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

As a reminder, you MUST sign up using the form linked below. If you are late to sign up or join later that is ok, but please sign up at least 24 hours before the first class you will be attending. This is important as it helps us communicate with the front office staff. Once you've signed up, you do not need to sign up again.

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.

Click Here To Sign Up!

Practice Club and All City Orchestra Sign Up Form

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).

Essential Elements Book 1

All 4th and 5th grade students are using or will be using Essential Elements Book 1. We ask that all students have their own copy since we will be using it for 2 - 3 years from 4th - 6th grade.
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.