Students at Levels 1 through 4 have 2 - 30 minute music periods per week. The elementary music curriculum provides enriching experiences that become integrated into students’ lifelong appreciation of music.
Curriculum objectives use singing, movement, and instrument playing to build the children’s skills in the musical elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, form, dynamics, and timbre. In addition, the children learn to appreciate and discriminate among the works of composers from a variety of periods and styles.
As part of their study of rhythm, students learn to recognize and perform rhythm patterns of notes and rests using aural syllables. The familiar chants of ta-ta-ti-ti-ta or ta-a-a-rest which one hears coming from district elementary music classrooms are rhythm activities in which the children are taught to use to express notation. (Ta-ta-ti-ti-ta is: quarter note, quarter note, eighth note, eighth note, quarter note.) Students also clap, skip, or tap the rhythms they have learned.
As they acquire competence with melody, students are able to recognize melodic notation (staff, clef, lines, spaces, etc.), as well as write and play simple melodies on classroom instruments such as the xylophone and the recorder.
Students learn to sing as well as sign the scales using a system of hand signs invented by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly.
The study of harmony finds students engaged in singing activities such as partner songs, counter melodies, rounds and canons. Here, too, they use classroom instruments to express simple harmonies. With an awareness of form, students are able to analyze the structural parts of music and to recognize introduction, repeat, and 1st/2nd endings as ways that music is organized.
Older students study the forms used in various selections such as binary, ternary and four-part - pieces that rely on two, three or four musical themes, which are woven together throughout the work.
Dynamics involves classroom activities, which develop the ability to discriminate and express changes in music such as from loud to soft, and to describe whether the dynamic changes are sudden or gradual. Students learn appropriate musical terminology (piano, pianissimo, crescendo, etc.) to express the various dynamic levels.
Finally, with their study of timbre, students are able to discriminate and express that pitch may vary, depending upon the instrument or voice that is used. Once again, the use of simple classroom instruments assists the learning and enlivens the vocal music classes.
It is typical to find that a single vocal music class consists of a wide variety of fast-paced activities designed to further the development of several of the musical elements in each session. Our teachers are skilled at integrating the objectives of the music curriculum into activities that are fun and enjoying. Children learn music by making music. Of course there is always time to sing just for fun, and students often suggest favorite numbers, which serve as warm-ups or closing activities.