Monday, April 20, 2015


Music Therapy is gaining more importance in this 21st Century as musicians, medical personnel, and families who care for sick or handicapped members, are discovering incredible benefits and healing qualities of music. Even if one is not sick or impaired, yet feeling a little down, the therapeutic gifts of music can transform one's mood or even mental health.
There were times in my young adult life, when I needed to retreat to my bedroom and sort out my feelings. I would turn on Debussy's 'La Mer" and listen, letting my mind relax and then 'work' to solve the problem. The beauty and complexity of the music always reminded me that the truly magnificent things in life aren't really things that you can touch. Music also helped me to realize that my 'problems' at hand were pretty superficial in nature, and really weren't worth fretting over so much. While studying in college, I found a short, but powerful book that I read and used in my psychology class- "The Gestalt Art Therapy"( author unknown.) I realized then, that our brains are probably more complicated than our most complex music. Yet our brains and the music we humans have created, have some kind of power connection that is both physiological as well as spiritual.
Within the last several years my nephew, his wife, and their sick daughter spent so much time at CHOP, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, due to their daughter- Emily's Leukemia. I experienced firsthand, a music therapist who literally brought Emily's blood pressure down to a more normal range. We all benefited from the music therapist as she interacted with Emily. What a gift to Emily, as well as to Tom and Kari, the two parents! All the hospital noises and equipment beeping was forgotten for the beautiful hour that the therapist played and sang with Emmie. I know that that therapy, along with terrific doctors, medical breakthroughs, and prayers saved my great niece. It was amazing!
So I have been hearing a few things that some of our students are going through with their family members, and I thought I would try to help from a musical perspective. The following are a few YouTube videos to spark your interest in the healing possibilities of music. Then following that, I would like to offer some great listening pieces that have inspired me throughout my life. To all those going through difficult times right now, my prayers are with you!
VIDEOS:                         Logo

 Randall Thompson- Alleluia
Debussy: -La Mer, Claire de Lune, Reflets dans L'eau, La Cathedrale Engloutie
Samuel Barber-  Adagio for Strings
Faure- Pavane, Claire de Lune
Mendelssohn- Hebrides Overture
Beethoven- many things, but start with Violin Concerto, first movement. 
Chopin- any of his Nocturnes, esp. C# minor and E minor
Rimsky-Korsakov- Scheherazade
Sibelius- Finlandia
Respighi- Fountains of Rome, Pines of Rome, Ancient Airs and Dances, 1-3, La Primavera
These will get you started at least...but Oh, there are so many more!
Here's to healing and healthy vibrations to help! Keep a song in your heart always! Jenny Stawinski

Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter Music Challenge

Hi Everyone,
In case we get snowed in for a few days, and you start getting a little 'stir crazy,' try my Winter Music Challenge. This month's composer is American composer- Aaron Copland (1900- 1990)!  
We are studying his life and musical works in General Music this quarter. All HES musicians will know how to sing the Shaker tune, "Simple Gifts." which Aaron Copland creatively used as a main melody in a ballet that he called, Appalachian Spring.

This ballet was written at the request of his friend named Martha Graham (1894-1991), who was a famous choreographer, ballet dancer, and founder of a ballet school. The ballet,  "Appalachian Spring," is still very popular among ballet companies; it is danced and performed today.
So the Winter Music Challenge is this: 1. Choose a section/movement from one of Aaron Copland's famous pieces such as :
Appalachian Spring, Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodeo, Billy Kid, Old American Songs, or Ceremonial Fanfare. 2.Listen to it together as a family. Then decide what you would like to do with it. You could, 3. Move to it and add whatever props you have around the house. Or, You could draw a picture that is your artistic idea of how the music would look as an artwork. Or, you could try playing a main melody on water glasses, pots and pans, or whatever musical instruments you have around the house. Record your performance. Or, finally, make up a miniature drama/ scene to go with the music and act it out with costumes and the music accompanying you in the background. It's a great time to put down the game controllers, turn off the TV, put away your cell phone and take a break from that computer screen. Let your creativity take you on an adventure! It will be something you and your family will always remember for years to come. I would love to know if any families take this music challenge, so please don't forget to tell me about your experiences when you are done. Better yet, show me your video, art work, or theatrical scene!
 P. S. For all my recorder players I promised you a link for the interactive fingering chart. Here it is:      

Always be musical,  Jenny Stawinski

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Welcome Back to a New School Year!

September, 2011
Hello to all H.E.S. Students and Families!
I am happy to be back at Huntingtown Elementary School as your Choral and General Music teacher!
I am very pleased with how things are going this new year. Student creativity and participation are both on the rise for music resource classes and  for morning clubs. All levels of musicians have been learning new songs to sing, and then learning how to accompany these new songs on our classroom xylophones and percussion instruments.
Recorders will begin in mid October for all third, fourth and fifth grade students.
We are now placing the order for new recorders for our third grade students, as well as for those who are new to our school. Recorders are wonderful tools that encourage music literacy. Parents, please make sure your secondary student has a recorder by mid October.
Morning Music Clubs have already begun. We meet at eight o'clock each morning of the week. There is still time to join any of the choruses, but our Eurhythmics  and Hand Bell Choir Ensembles are already full. I am so proud of our Monday morning Eurhythmics Club as they have already performed "Peace Round" on the morning HNN News show. In upcoming classes we will be exploring how to show this calming song in 4 part harmony using small groups and props such as streamers, body socks, and tennis balls.
Tuesday mornings are for Grade 3 Chorus. Our numbers are strong and so our our voices. I am really excited about our upcoming Winter Program which will take place at Huntingtown High School on December 16, at 7:00 p.m. Please make sure to reserve that night on your calendars.
The Hand Bell Choir has begun to learn a peace song as well. This song is one that both choruses will sing and possibly the Eurhytmics class will also move to. Hand Bell Choir requires a lot of patience and counting. We are one of the few elementary schools that have hand bells. We wear gloves so as to help preserve the beautiful finish on the bells. Wait until you hear how lovely they sound at the Winter Concert mentioned above!
The last several years I have been so proud of my Fourth and Fifth Grade Choruses! Sometimes I get goose bumps from their performances. I cannot take all the credit as I know that families sing at home, children sing along with Youtube and iTunes videos and songs, and shows like American Idol and X Factor encourage everyone to use their built-in musical instrument. It is a wonderful time for choral music in the United States!
Finally I would like to congratulate the following students who auditioned for me and made it into Honors Chorus. (Honors chorus is open to fifth grade students who show exemplary skills in singing and sightreading music. They must also have superior behavior to attend this special program.) This year's participants will be:
Samantha Fowler, Jake Armacost, Kirin Bheemaswarroop, Austin Fowler, Gabriel Ortiz, Molly Gall, Hannah Steele, Ashlyn Pearson, Molly Hancock, and Jessica Yost. Congratulate these students if you happen to see them. It is an honor for them to be in this Chorus, as some of our county's best singers will be represented there as well.
Thank you parents for sending us the very best! I love Huntingtown-for me it is a place of great joy!
                                                                                           Musically Yours,
                                                                                      Mrs. Jennifer Stawinski