A message from our music staff:

Mr. Berger and Ms. Hennessy 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. Hennessy can be reached at ahennessy@sd25.org. Follow Mr. Berger on Twitter! @WEMusic160

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 ./`