“Friends, we have so many exciting things to do today!” said Lower School Music teacher Eddie Wiernik, who joined Lower School teacher Miranda Orbach’s Zoom room.
Students grinned back from their Zoom boxes while some offered enthusiastic waves. Those in attendance were Class 2 and 3 students who are currently learning remotely. While Ms. Orbach teaches their day to day instruction, this morning was their allotted time for music.
To begin, Mr. Wiernik pulled up the lyrics to a Lower School favorite, “White Winter Hymnal.” Encouraging the students to warm up their vocal chords, he said, “Everyone give me a nice Ah!” The students beautifully harmonized the first line in three different pitches before proceeding to sing the entire piece.
After their warmup, students were split into breakout rooms by Class. In one virtual room, Class 3 students engaged in a note name game using Seesaw, a digital platform for student engagement. Students were instructed to use their music knowledge to determine if the note was on a line or space and, ultimately, figure out the corresponding letter. The notes from left to right spelled a secret word that would be revealed after their thorough investigation.
Mr. Wiernik shared that this note reading practice would be helpful in the future once they start learning to play the recorder. “Good luck, my detectives!” he said before sending them into their room.
Meanwhile, in the other Zoom room, Class 2 students were rehearsing the song “If You’re Out There” by John Legend for the upcoming winter Assembly.
“This is beautiful song,” Mr. Wiernik said smiling. “It’s about making good choices, being kind and being leaders. Okay, Class 2, are you ready?”
He began to play the soulful tune on his keyboard and sang the first few lines: If you hear this message, wherever you stand. I’m calling every woman, I’m calling every man. We’re the generation. We can’t afford to wait. The future started yesterday and we’re already late.
The students quickly grasped the melody and began to sing along, with words displayed center-screen to assist them. The piece encompassed many thoughtful lyrics such as Oh I was looking for a song to sing. I searched for a leader, but the leader was me. We were looking for the world to change. We can be heroes. If you’re out there, sing along with me.
“Nice job!” cheered Mr. Wiernik over the sound of the piano. “Okay, that was a good practice round. Now it’s time to stand! Plant your feet and hands at your sides.”
The students eagerly stood and gave passionate performances from their respective Zoom boxes, incorporating their designated hand movements. “Project your voices!” Mr. Wiernik reminded.
“Beautiful job Class 2,” he said before switching rooms. Now joining Class 3, Mr. Wiernik changed up the melody to a more upbeat tune and the energized third graders began rehearsing their class-specific song titled “Hot Chocolate.”
Hot chocolate, I can’t get enough. Hot, hot chocolate, it’s my favorite stuff.
When the weather is freezing and you think you’ll turn to ice, there is nothing more pleasing than a mug of paradise!
The bubbly energy could be felt throughout the virtual room as students bopped and sang along to the cheerful song. “Great job, friends! Remember to hold hot chocolate for seven counts on the last verse,” Mr. Wiernik advised.
Following their lively rehearsal, each student used Seesaw to record themselves singing the song. Mr. Wiernik assured his class, “I know that technology can be tricky. If you didn’t get a chance to record today – it’s okay! There will be another chance in our next class before the Assembly.”
Through a seamless transition, Ms. Orbach re-joined the session and Mr. Wiernik bid farewell. The students waved goodbye, excited to join their in-person classmates for the virtual winter concert on Friday, December 18.