Week 1 Highlights – 5th Grade

Our  first unit of inquiry for 5th grade is How We Express Ourselves. We will be talking about how knowledge of written music allows musicians to read, practice, and perform. We will be using recorders, drums, and other Orff instruments to practice these skills and become more literate musicians 🙂

This week, our focus was on solfege and new rhythm patterns. We learned how to play forbidden pattern, which is a game that reinforces solfege hand signs and pitch intervals. In the game, the class plays against me and tries to win points. Mrs. Schricker’s class was the first class this week to beat me, and they were so proud!

The 5th graders also learned about the takadimi rhythm system, which is a system of speaking rhythm patterns. They used a familiar folk song, “Ida Red”, to discover a couple new rhythm patterns that we call “ta-dimi” and “taka-di”. We practiced these new patterns by singing folk songs, creating ostinato patterns on drums and playing a rhythm game called, “I Have, Who Has”.

Next week, we will be starting Recorder Karate. If your 5th grader has not brought in their recorder, they must have it in class by Sunday. Please be aware that students are only allowed to practice their recorders in the music room or at home. We want to continue keeping the school hallways, classrooms, and playground a RECORDER FREE zone for the sake of other students and teachers.

Have a great weekend!

-Ms. Austin 🙂

Week 4 Highlights – Grade 3

What a week! Tuesday was the 3rd graders’ last practice day for the Dramatic StoryBook Project, and there was a lot to be done! They were putting the finishing touches on their projects, rehearsing, and really working on their communication skills. Here is what Mrs. Van Dyke’s class looked like as they were practicing:

StoryBook Project

Through the organized chaos (hah!) you can really see the students collaborating and thinking through their work. The project was student-led, so I wanted them to have freedom in their creation process.

On Wednesday, many parents and teachers joined us for our in-class performances! The students were so excited to share what they had been working on! I am currently figuring out how share the performance videos in the most efficient way possible, so hopefully the videos (or links to the videos) will be on the blog soon. Thank you so much to all the parents that took time out of their day to support their kids 🙂

Thursday, the 3rd graders watched the performance videos and reflected on the project. It was a great way to end out the unit!

Next week I will be starting my rotation with 5th grade (and Mrs. Yates’s 1st grade class). 5th graders WILL be needing their recorders for the first unit. I’m requesting that they are all in by Thursday of next week. I will remind the 5th graders in class, and reminders will be on their class blogs as well. If your student has not yet purchased a recorder, souq.com has a decent selection of Yamaha recorders that would work well. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at baustin@uasdubai.ae.

Musically Yours,

Ms. Austin

Week 3 Highlights – Grade 3

This week in music, the grade 3 students have been preparing for, and are now creating their final projects for the “How We Express Ourselves” unit.

We began the week by watching “Peter and the Wolf”. This is a symphony written specifically for children by Sergi Prokofiev, a famous Russian composer. It tells the story of a boy named Peter, who takes on a scary wolf along with his friends, the bird, the duck, and the cat. Each  character has a theme (or a motive) that represents them. It is meant to teach children the different instruments in the orchestra, as well as melodic motives.

The students  took what they learned from the symphony and applied it to children’s books. We created a dramatic performance of “This Jazz Man” as a class, using instruments to show actions and characters. They were then assigned groups and asked to create their own dramatic stories (using “The Gruffalo”, “Kat Kong”, “Scaredy Squirrel”, “Bee-Wigged”, and “Frog in Space”).

Each class will be performing their dramatic stories on Wednesday, November 1st. If you would like to join us for the in-class performance (room 220), the class times are listed below. All parents are welcome!

3ER-   7:55-8:40
3AVD-   9:10-9:55
3GK-   1:35-2:20
3NK-   2:25-3:10
Here are some pictures from the week:
 If you have any questions feel free to email me at baustin@uasdubai.ae. I hope to see you on Wednesday!
– Ms. Austin 🙂

Week 2 Highlights – Grade 3

This week in Grade 3 music, the students have been learning how to identify notes on the treble clef, as well as practicing the pentatonic scale. We have also been working on our music listening skills (what to listen for when hearing a song).

We started the week with an Orff arrangement of the popular folk tune, Rocky Mountain. The students discovered how to sing the song using solfege, learned the words, and then added a xylophone part. Performing as a class required a lot of teamwork and cooperation, so we spent time practicing and developing those skills.

Our next concept we worked on was the treble clef. Naming the notes can be tricky at first, but we reinforced it with lots of fun activities. We played the Fly Swatter Game, where students had to identify the note I called out and SWAT it with a fly swatter.

We ended out the week with a Listening Day. We talked about the elements of music (dynamics, tempo, etc…) and how these change depending on the mood of the song. To show this, we listened to Gustav Holst’s “Mars” – from his symphony, The Planets. It’s a very exciting and dramatic piece that sounds very similar to Star Wars.

I’m looking forward to a busy and exciting next week as we start preparing for our final projects.

-Ms. Austin

We Can Compose

This week in music, the 4th graders finished out their unit of inquiry by composing 4-measure songs to be played on the xylophones. The students created their own rhythmic and melodic patterns, wrote them down on staffs, and learned how to play them. Today, most of the students had an opportunity to perform their composition in front of the class. I saw many students being risk takers and volunteering to perform!

^ Here are some boys from 4SD using their xylophones as tools for composing.

^ Feliks from 4AT did a great job at performing on a bass xylophone!

Next week,  I will be switching to 3rd grade for rotation 2. I’m looking forward to meeting my new classes and building our musicianship skills together.

-Ms. Austin

Major Scale is Major Cool!

This week we focused on the major scale! We started out by introducing “Music Street”, a fictional neighborhood where the solfege families (do, re, mi, etc…) live. This helped us learn the notes on a major scale and where to find our whole steps and half steps.

This new concept was reinforced through lots of fun games and activities. We practiced drawing scales on whiteboards, had a treble clef relay, and even played musical Twister! These activities have been preparing the students for their unit summative next week, where they will be composing their own melody, notating it on the staff, playing it on the Orff instruments, and performing for the class. I’m looking forward to seeing what they create!

Here are some pictures from our week:

You Will Be Found

Happy Islamic New Year!

I hope all my students have had a restful long weekend and are excited to get back to our first full week of school! As I shared with my 4th graders, I will be sharing little bits of creativity and inspiration (from YouTube) at the end of class on Thursdays. This will be a fun way of introducing new genres of music, as well as celebrating excellent musicianship from around the world. This past week, we watched a video of the BYU Vocal Point (a FANTASTIC a capella group) sing “You Will Be Found”. It’s a touching song about the importance of acceptance and belonging, and it comes from a new Broadway musical called “Dear Evan Hansen”.

I invite you to watch this video again with your student, and discuss the emotions you feel when listening to the lyrics. Why is this feeling of belonging so important, and how can we help foster that at UAS?

Looking ahead to this week, the 4th graders will be learning all about the Major Scale and Partner Songs!

Musically Yours,

Ms. Austin 🙂

Off to a Great Start!

What a whirlwind week it has been!

The fourth graders have started their first music UOI (unit of inquiry), How We Organize Ourselves. We are singing solfege, learning new rhythms, dancing, and even playing xylophones!

Here’s an example of Mrs. Davy’s class practicing Takadimi (a system we use for learning and speaking rhythms):


I’m already so proud of the musicians in 4th grade!

-Ms. Austin


Hello parents and students!

My name is Betsy Austin and I’m the upper elementary music teacher at UAS. I’m so excited to meet all the new and returning students, and start our journey as developing musicians! We have a lot to look forward to in music this year! Inserted below is a tentative schedule for the 2017-2018 grade level concerts:

Grade 3: Monday, February 12, 2018 from 8am-9am

Grade 4: Thursday, April 26, 2018 from 8am-9am

Grade 5: Monday, March 19, 2018 from 8am-9am

As most of you may know, the elementary school has a new rotation schedule for specials. I will see each grade  every day for 4 weeks at a time, and will rotate through. I am starting the year with 4th grade, then will be moving to 3rd grade, and finally 5th grade (and one lucky 1st grade class). A schedule for this rotation will be posted on this blog in the near future for your convenience.

As a final note, I have received a few comments about recorders and when students should be bringing them. We will be delving into our Recorder Karate system (HIYA!) in our final rotation. I will give plenty of notice (in the form of blog posts, letters home, and verbal reminders) for when they need to bring recorders to school. As of right now, they can be left at home.

Please don’t hesitate to send me an email or comment on my blog if you have any questions. Also, please subscribe to this page. I’ll be posting weekly updates on what fun things are going on in the classroom and what to look forward to in the coming weeks. It’s going to be a great year in the music room!

-Ms. Austin 🙂