Riverbend Music Room

Trimester 1 Newsletter


My name is Chelsea McKinnon and this is my 5th year as the music teacher here at Riverbend. Every week I get to have the wonderful pleasure of singing, dancing, playing, and creating with hundreds of amazing young musicians. In addition to general music, I also teach the 5th-grade orchestra and the percussion ensemble for 3rd-5th grade. We've had so many fun moments in the music room this grading period and I wanted to share a quick highlight of what each grade level has been focusing on this last grading period.

While I don't typically host conferences, my room will be open and I would love for you to stop in so I can meet you. :)

Can Can (Percussion Playalong) - Mrs Mayfield's 2nd Grade

Learning At A Glance


  • Our four voices: Sing, Speak, Whisper, Call
  • Simple percussion instruments i.e. bells, egg shakers, rhythm sticks, triangles.
  • Echo songs with a proper singing tone
  • Expressive body movements using scarves and piano
  • Reading simple rhythm patterns with iconic notation

First Grade

  • Reading quarter and beamed eighth note rhythms.
  • Instrument Families
  • Simple melodic patterns of So and Mi
  • Simple percussion instruments i.e. bells, egg shakers, rhythm sticks, triangles.
  • Exploring musical opposites: high/low, slow/fast, loud/quiet

Second Grade

  • Melodic patterns of So and Mi
  • Reading quarter note, quarter rest, and beamed eighth note rhythms
  • Following a conductor using simple percussion instruments
  • Organizing sections of music into specific forms
  • Partner folk dances

Third Grade

  • Hand signs/Solfege of Do, Mi, So, and La
  • Reading rhythms with half note, half rest, and beamed sixteenth notes
  • Using sticks, cups, and beanbags to demonstrate musical form.
  • Drumming with djembes, bongos, and tubanos
  • Folk songs in foreign languages

Fourth Grade

  • Folk dances from around the world
  • Reading rhythms with whole note and beamed sixteenth notes.
  • Expressive singing using dynamics
  • Closer study of instrument families
  • Guido d'Arezzo: the reason we have a written language for music

Fifth Grade

  • Treble clef pitch names
  • Playing recorder - B, A, G and using breath control
  • Folk dances from around the world
  • Playing part-work using Boomwhackers
  • Singing in a minor tonality
Big picture

Ensemble Update


These fifth graders are making phenomenal progress for only about 2 months of experience! We've learned pizzicato (plucking) and how to use the bow, the whole D major scale, numerous exercises in our book, and are currently working on a holiday season favorite - Jingle Bells! As I just told them yesterday, they are my best-sounding group of beginners especially to still be so early in our time together. Every week they show up ready to put in the work with smiles on their faces and to see their sense of pride as they figure out and master each new skill is a gift I never get tired of seeing.

We rehearse every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:50 - 3:45. Weekly assignments are posted in Seesaw for practice.


This group has been a multi-year work in progress and I'm thrilled it's finally a reality here. This is an amazing group of 17 students ranging from 3rd-5th grade. We're working on two pieces right now which both have multiple layers. These multi-part pieces are challenging us to hone our active listening skills to hear across the ensemble, synchronize our pulse, and find balance among us all. Talk about some nuanced skills! They're such a joy and I have been so proud of the initiative they've taken to practice before school and peer coach each other. We look forward to sharing our work with you later this year.

We rehearse every Monday from 2:50 - 4:00. The music room is open for morning practice on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 8:10 - 8:35.