General Music Page

General Music–Grades K-2

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 1.24.47 PM    Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 1.41.07 PM

Hip Cat, by Jonathan London                                 Ella Fitzgerald

Jazz is an American style of music that began down south in New Orleans (Louisiana).In jazz, musicians take a song we all know, and they make the song different or new by changing parts of the song on the spot.  There is a big, fancy word for this: improvising, or improvisation.We’re going to listen to a famous jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald, sing a song we all know–Old MacDonald (click here).  Listen to how the song starts out like the song we all know.  Little by little it changes, until it’s almost a brand new song at the end.

Now we’re ready to ‘read’ Hip Cat–with Levar Burton! (click here)

Hip Cat Glossary–including Slang!
There are lots of words that kids use today to express what they like–they are often called ‘slang’. Some of these words are: ‘epic,’ or ‘sick’. Some words that have been around for a while that also mean good are: ‘awesome,’ and ‘cool.’ Hip Cat has lots and lots of slang words like this.  Here are many of those words or phrases, with an explanation or definition.  These words are listed in the order that you encounter them in the story,
Hip Cat
Hip–really good; cool, or awesome
Hep–also cool or awesome, like hip
Oo-bee-do John, the sax man, scat man–Hip Cat’s full name
Scat–a style of singing, where someone imitates the sounds of instruments with silly words (‘oo-bee-doo’, ‘dwee-bob-a-do bop’)
Sax/ax/horn–all words that are used to describe Scat Cat’s instrument, a saxophone
Daddy-o–a funny phrase used to describe a friend or hip person
Mosey–walk slowly
Screech, skonk, purr, bob, wail–all words used to describe Scat Cat’s sax playing
Joint was jumpin’–a music club or party where everyone is having a good time
Bad, mad, rad–all terms to describe something good or ‘cool’
Pay with peanuts–paying very little or nothing for someone’s work
Top dogs–bosses, people with power
Feelin’ blue–feeling sad
Minx cats–a breed of cat
Cats in minks–cats wearing fancy, expensive fur coats
Cat from the sticks–someone from out of town or the country
Crowd went hog wild–everyone having a good time

Do you remember what Hip Cat’s dream was?

Do you remember what he did to make his dream come true?

Have you ever studied a musical instrument?

If so, what do you like about playing and studying music?

Is there something that is hard to do when you are learning to play your instrument?

Now that you know something about jazz, let’s listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing “Old MacDonald” again (click here).

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 1.41.07 PM



Screen Shot 2020-03-19 at 1.50.58 PM

Click on the above picture to access the CHROME MUSIC LAB:

  1. Song Maker, Melody Maker and Kandinsky–draw a picture on the graph and see how it sounds, as Song Maker plays your visual creation (L to R)!  The up-down, left-right orientation of the graph is like our music staff!
  2. Rhytthm–create different repeating rhythmic patterns using multiple instruments, played by different groups of animals!  For 3rd Grade and up: experiment with different meters (3-, 4-, 5- and 6-beat measures)!
  3. 5th Grade–many of the other tools here reinforce the concepts you covered in your Sound unit in Science–have fun exploring frequency (Oscillators), how timbres (unique sound qualities) of different instruments and sounds look on “Spectrogram” (graphing the strengths of different frequencies in a given sound).  In many of the tools, you can record your own sounds and see how they behave, or even manipulate them! (Voice Spinner, Spectrogram, Piano Roll)


picture of Will Heim

Welcome to the Long Branch General Music Page!

Hello!  My name is Will Heim and I am one of the General and Vocal/Choral music teachers at Long Branch Elementary.  I came to Long Branch in Fall 2009, but I began teaching in Arlington Public Schools in 2007 as an ‘itinerant’ teacher, traveling to three schools per week.  Prior to that time, I taught in higher education as a private voice teacher and ensemble director in Texas, South Carolina and the Baltimore/Washington area.  I also performed professionally with several organizations such as Wolf Trap Opera Company, Baltimore Opera and Washington National Opera, Opera Vivente, Cathedral Choral Society, and The In Series.  I moved to the DC area in 1999 to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Maryland-College Park.  I graduated from St. Olaf College, Southern Methodist University and the University of Maryland with degrees in church music, conducting and vocal performance.  I completed my full licensure for education in Spring 2010.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with my wife, Heidi, my son Matthew and daughter Elizabeth, as well as reading, running, biking, swimming, skiing, and occasionally performing.  I am delighted to be here at Long Branch!  Questions? Email me!

Why We Teach Music–a nice credo explaining how music, once considered one of the higher orders of learning, is still integral to a child’s well-rounded development.

Music is a science.
It is exact, specific; and it demands exact acoustics.
A conductor’s full score is a chart, a graph which indicates frequencies, intensities,
volume changes, melody and harmony all at once and with the most exact control of time. Music is mathematical.
It is rhythmically based on the subdivisions of time into fractions
which must be done instantaneously, not worked out on paper.Music is a foreign language.
Most of the terms are in Italian, German or French;
and the notation is certainly not English but a highly developed
kind of shorthand that uses symbols to represent ideas.
The semantics of music is the most complete and universal language.Music is history.
Music usually reflects the environment and times of its creation,
often even the country and/or racial feeling.Music is physical education.
It requires fantastic coordination of fingers, hands, arms, lip, cheek and facial muscles,
in addition to extraordinary control of diaphragmatic, back, stomach, and chest muscles,
which respond instantly to the sound the ear hears and the mind interprets.Music is all these things, but most of all, music is art.
It allows a human being to take all of these dry, technically boring
(but difficult) techniques and use them to create emotion.
That is one thing science cannot duplicate;
humanism, feeling, emotion, call it what you will. That is why we teach music.
Not because we expect our students to major in music
Not because we expect them to play or sing all their life
Not so they can relax
Not so they can have fun.
But so they will be human
So they will recognize beauty
So they will be sensitive
So they will be closer to an infinite beyond this world
So they will have something to cling to
So they will have more love, more compassion, more gentleness, more good–in short, more life.
Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless you know how to live?
That is why we teach music.–Author Unknown