A message from our music staff:

Mr. Berger and Ms. Dudlak are glad you're here! Check back often for updates and info about our Westgate music program. Mr. Berger can be reached via email at gberger@sd25.org, and Ms. Dudlak can be reached at jdudlak@sd25.org. Follow Mr. Berger on Twitter! @WEMusic160

Friday, December 8, 2017

Two Down in One Week! December 4-8

This week we had two performances here at Westgate. Our second grade classrooms performed their music program, "Winter Wiggles" on Tuesday, and our 3rd and 3/4 MA classes held their Chicago World's Fair on Thursday evening. All of the kids did a great job! 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Second Grade Concert, Chicago World's Fair & Recorder replacements

Welcome to the Westgate Music Room blog- Parent-Teacher Conferences edition! I hope you are all enjoying your meetings with our awesome Westgate teachers, and hearing great things about your kids! And, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We have so much to be thankful for, don't we?

Second Grade Concert: Coming Soon!
Our students in 2nd grade classrooms will perform their concert on Tuesday, December 5th at 7:00p.m. in the Westgate Commons. Please see the link below for details.
2nd grade concert information

The Third Grade Chicago World's Fair is also coming soon! Students will be singing the Illinois State Song, Chicago, That Toddlin' Town, Sweet Home Chicago, and the ever popular Old Lady Leary!

Recorder Replacements: Many fourth grade students have misplaced their soprano recorders, and are needing loaners when they come to class. It is my expectation that all 3rd and 4th graders have a recorder at school to use in music class. Attached is a recorder replacement order form. Please print it and return it to school with the $5.50 fee, and I will be happy to provide a new recorder for your child. I also have paper copies available in the music room if that's more convenient.
Recorder Replacement Letter

Have a great week! We'll see the kids back here on Monday, November 27th!

With sincere thanks~

Mr. Berger ./`

Friday, October 13, 2017

Music this Week

Hello, Westgate families! Happy October, and... GO CUBS!!!

Here's a brief recap of what's been happening in the Westgate music room this week.

The drums are packed up and ready to go to their next school. We'll miss them, but I'm glad to be able to move on to other music activities and concepts!

Our 4th grade classes are busy preparing for their concert, which is Wednesday, October 18th at 7:00. We're singing songs with a tropical feel, and including a few partner songs, which will prove to challenge our 4th grade performers! I sent lyric sheets home with students, so please remind them to practice and review their music over this long weekend! Thanks!

Third grade and 3/4 MA classes are anticipating the arrival of the soprano recorders! I shared a brief the history of the recorder,  and we watched a few videos of different sizes within the recorder family! See the link below for a fun use of four of the members of the recorder consort.
Super Mario theme on 4 recorders

We also learned and performed a sea shanty called John Kanaka! You might have heard this catchy tune being hummed around your home!

Our second grade classes learned a folk song and dance from Mexico, called El Juego Chirimbolo, and a lovely autumn song called Otono. I enjoyed teaching them a few Spanish words to tie-in with Latin American Heritage month!

First grade classes spent time reinforcing their understanding steady beat vs no beat.

I didn't see the Kindergarten classes this week, but we continue working on basic music skills, such as steady beat, singing in tune, and fast/slow.

Have a wonderful weekend! Let's hope the CUBS take it to those LA Dodgers.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The 4th grade Music Concert is coming soon!

Students in 4th grade classrooms will be performing a music concert on Wednesday, October 18th! The theme is island music!

Attached is the parent information letter for the concert. Please contact me with any questions. Thanks!

Mr. Berger ./`

Fall concert information letter

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mud Monkeys!?

Mr. Berger and his oldest son took part in their first 5K 'mud' race this past Saturday! It was called  "Terrain Racing", and it was really challenging and fun! Talk about sharpening the saw. It was held in Joliet at the Chicagoland Motor Speedway. There were actually race cars practicing on the track that day! The roar of the engines was pretty cool while we were running our race.
Below are a few pics from before and after the event. We'll probably go again next year, so come join us!

 Obstacles included:
Water, mud, walls of various heights, rope climbs, rope swings, cargo nets, more water, climbing about 12 flights of stairs & coming back down, climbing 6 flights with a sand bag on your shoulders, a tire yoke carry, flipping a giant truck tire, monkey bars, more walls, more cargo nets, and much more! 

Our goal was to try everything (which we did), and to finish- which we also did! Just think of how much better we could have done if we had trained!! :-)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Recorder orders, drum unit & Patriotic music!

It's time for thirds graders to order soprano recorders! Please see the attached order form for details, and visit www.maciepublishing.com for information on the recorders we'll be ordering this year!

We are using Kingsley Kolors recorders this year! 
Westgate recorder order form 

Drums! Drums! Drums!
We have been making some great noise over the past few weeks! The world music drums are here at Westgate until the first week of October! We are playing rhythm & listening games, creating rhythms, reading rhythm flashcards, using rhythm Megablocks to create and play rhythms, writing rhythm patterns, and much more!
Students create & play rhythms using Megablocks!

4th graders play Ensemble I by Will Schmid

Patriotic Music in Class:
To honor Patriot Day, I chose to share various patriotic songs with the students. We discussed the history and meaning of our great songs, such as, America, America, the Beautiful, You're a Grand Old Flag, and the Star-Spangled Banner. I also shared the Smithsonian National Museum of American History website with students: http://amhistory.si.edu/starspangledbanner/- they have a great exhibit of the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, which inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words of our National Anthem. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Westgate to Help families affected by Hurricane Harvey!

Please see the flyers below for information on how our leaders here at Westgate are set to help those in need in Houston!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Welcome Back!

Hello, Westgate community! Welcome back to another fun musical year! For those who are new to Westgate, Welcome! Please use this blog for upcoming music activities and for updates on what we've been up to in music class.

New this year: Our itinerant music teacher from last year, Miss Hennessy, has moved on to become the full-time music teacher at Ivy Hill this year! We are happy for her, but we will miss her here at Westgate.
Our new itinerant music teacher is Ms. Jennifer Dudlak! She brings many fresh ideas to Westgate, and also shares her talents with Ivy Hill and Olive-Mary Stitt. Ms. Dudlak will teach all 5th grade classes, and our morning kindergarten classes.

On a personal note: I had the pleasure of taking a week long mission trip to Comayagua, Honduras from July 22-29th. Prior to school ending in June, we had a school supply drive, and our awesome families donated five boxes of supplies for me to take down! Here are a few pictures of the donations being sorted out at El Ayudante, our mission home for the week. The supplies will be given to local children who come to the learning center on the El Ayudante property. Thanks to all of the students and families who took the time to donate!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Keyboards! We're exploring keyboards!

Many year ago, we were given a set of Yamaha keyboards to be used with a math program here at Westgate. They are great, but take up a lot of room, so we haven't had them out for many a moon! As the year draws to a close, I thought we'd take some time to explore and have some fun with these digital music making machines. Here's a clip of a 5th grade class exploring the sounds- LOUDLY! Students found many different sounds and background beats while enjoying the keyboards in groups of two.
This organ was donated by a former Westgate family! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Orffin' Blues- Videos of all 5th grade classes!

Below are links to our 5th graders playing Orffin' Blues! We watched these in class and reflected on how each class performed, and what improvements could have been made.


Mrs. Kocin's Class- Orffin' Blues

Mrs Kuehl/ Carey Orffin' Blues

Mr. Lamich Orffin' Blues

Mr. Solarz Orffin' Blues

Ms. Havensak Orffin' Blues

The students did a great job and enjoyed working as an ensemble to play this fun blues tune!

Mr. Berger ./`

Friday, May 12, 2017

April and May Music Updates!

Where did April go? Wow! I just realized that I didn't update the blog at all last month!

So much has been going on here at Westgate... Music! Music! Music!

April 25th was the 3/4 MA and 4th grade music program- "Earth Day and Beyond", and the students did a great job performing that evening! Special thanks to Ms. Hennessy for all of her work preparing her three classes for this show!

April 28th was the Westgate Variety Show at South Middle School. Again, our talented students rocked the show, with acts that ranged from dance to comedy, from music and singing, to solving game cubes! Great work, Westgate!

April was Jazz Music Appreciation Month! I shared different styles of Jazz with students, and studied 12 Bar Blues with our 5th graders. We have been working on an Orff piece called "Orffin' Blues", and the students are starting to get the feel for it! I'll post a video of our performance at a later time. Stay Tuned!

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Mother's Day!

Mr. Berger ./`

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mr. Berger is performing in Madagascar, A Musical Adventure!

Hello, Westgate families! Please consider bringing your children to see this fun musical production of the popular Dreamworks film, Madagascar! Mr. Berger plays Marty the Zebra, a crack-a-lackin' hip-hop character from the Central Park Zoo! Special school day rates are available for the March 31st performance. Visit www.overshadowed.org for ticket details.

Hope to see you there!

Mr. Berger ./`

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our second graders learn about the instrument families of the orchestrta!

I CAN...
Identify the four instrument families of the orchestra
Identify orchestra instruments by sight and sound, and place them into their families.

These I CAN statements are the goal for our second grade orchestra unit. We have been learning about each instrument family: Brass, Woodwind, Strings, & Percussion. Last week we listened to film music from Superman and Pirates of the Caribbean, using our awesome Music Express magazines, and discussed how important the film score is to the overall dramatic effect of the movie.

This week, we are reading and listening to the wonderful book, "The Remarkable Farkle McBride" by actor John Lithgow. I had the pleasure of hearing him perform this with the Chicago Symphony many years ago! Below is a YouTube video that I shared with the 2nd grade classes. Enjoy!

The Remarkable Farkle McBride book & music

Friday, March 3, 2017

First Grade Concert is coming soon!

Our students in first grade classrooms will be performing their concert on Wednesday, March 15th at 7:00 p.m.! Attached below is the information letter that was sent home with students on Friday.

First Grade Concert Parent information letter

Looking forward to a fun and enjoyable show!

Have a super weekend!

Mr. Berger ./`

Friday, February 24, 2017

Drum Unit continued, 1/2 MA Concert & Madagascar!

Our drum unit is still going, and students are enjoying playing rhythms, games galore, and exploring other percussion instruments, such as the shekere, agogo bell, cowbell, and bongo drums. We even played some "Presidential Rhythms" for President's Day! Of course, the Monster Pattern game is always a favorite! If the students play the rhythm pattern in the monster's mouth, they are out and have to "Get In The Belly!" (Go to the center & wait until no students play the pattern, then they get a jailbreak!)

Monster Rhythm

Tuesday night was our 1/2 Multi-Age music concert "February FUNuary", and the students did a great job! They sang the nine songs with great enthusiasm and pitch! Way to go, Westgate leaders!

Finally- I would like to invite all Westgate families to come and see me perform in "Madagascar, the Musical Adventure" in Medinah, IL. I play Marty the Zebra, and it's great fun, perfect for kids! I'll send out information soon. The show opens March 31st, and runs for only two weekends. You can also visit www.overshadowed.org for details.

Have a great weekend!

Mr. Berger ./`

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Thank You ABC/25 for the grant!

Big shout out to ABC/25 foundation for funding my grant this year! I wrote a grant to purchase four wireless presenter remotes to use in the music room, art room, and for our music teachers at Ivy Hill & Olive Mary-Stitt. The remotes were actually donated, so we were able to purchase one additional with the funds we saved!

Thanks so much to all of the Westgate families who participate in ABC/25!

The wireless presenter remote in action! Using the green laser pointer!
Mrs. Miller & Mr. Berger taking our Twitter pic!

Our fearless leaders!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Coming Attractions- Two Concerts in Two months!

The 1/2 Multi-Age concert is Tuesday, February 21st at 7:00 p.m. Please click the link below for the information letter I sent home on Friday, 2/10.

1_2MultiAge_Information Letter

The first grade concert is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15th at 7:00 p.m.! Students will be singing songs about Spring and St. Patrick's Day. I will send an information letter home in the next few weeks.

The drums are here until March 2nd, so we continue our rhythmic noise making throughout this month! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

7 Habits for Families is Coming Soon!

Please check out this flyer for more information on the 7 Habits for Families workshop.

It's Drum Time!

The Remo World Music Drums arrived last week, and we've been putting them to good use! Here's a video of a fifth grade class playing "Ensemble 1" or "Take Time in Life" from Will Schmid. Click the link below.

We're exploring the drums and other percussion equipment throughout this entire month, so there will be lots of creative rhythms coming from the Music room!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Martin Luther King day 2017

He had a dream...

We took time in class to learn a bit about Dr. King, and learned songs from the civil rights movement.

Miss Hennessy and I also shared this video with our 3rd-5th graders. It's a rap, but also really educational!

I Celebrate MLK- Rap

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy New Year! Music Happenings for January 3-6

Hello everyone! I hope you had a great winter break. Thanks again to all of the Westgate families who gave me thank you gifts before break! I was able to use the manna gifts and gift cards, as well as share the chocolates and other goodies with family and friends. Thank You!

Here's a brief overview of our first week back:

5th grade: We started with singing the old Scottish folksong Auld Lang Syne, they reviewed the idea of major scale and chords. Students played a simple chord accompaniment and sang the song using the hand bells. It was lovely to hear! We also discussed New Year's day traditions, and listened to a song that is used in Japan for their own New Year's celebration. Did you know they eat buckwheat noodles (toshikoshi soba) as a sign of good luck? They also ring temple bells 108 times at midnight to cast out 108 evil or bad thoughts for the new year. It's interesting to learn about other cultures!

Later in the week we reviewed the Japanese song, and I shared video clips of a few Japanese folk instruments: the Koto, Shakuhachi, Shamisen, and Taiko Drums. Students were then given the task of writing new lyrics for Auld Lang Syne. They will share the new version of the song next week in class!

4th grade: We learned about 1950's Do Wop music and sang "We Go Together" while doing a fun hand-jive. Students chose groups and created their own hand-jives. They'll share next week.

*Miss Hennesy's 3rd and 4th grade classes did a fun game to choose new seats, and then started "Recorder Karate"- a fun program that helps the students improve their recorder playing while earning 'belts' as they progress.

2nd grade: We started our week by learning a couple of fun movement songs- Tony Chestnut and Riddle Riddle Ree. We also worked on performing Riddle Ree as a two and three part round!

1/2 MA and 1st grade: Peter and the Wolf! We learned about the wonderful music of Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, and started listening to the narrated story while coloring some fun packets. Students were asked to identify the instruments that represent each of the characters in the story.
** Our 1/2 MA classes will begin work on their concert music very soon! The concert is Tuesday, February 21st at 7:00 pm.

Kindergarten: I only saw one section of students this week, but we had some fun! We moved and practiced steady beat, acted like Penguins with "Doin' the Penguin", and read the wonderful short book, Tracks in the Snow by Wong Herbert Yee. Next week we will add some instruments as we sing a refrain with the book.

If you're still reading, thanks! Have a great weekend!

Mr. Berger ./`