The music program in the Lower School is based on developmentally appropriate experiences at each grade level. Through singing, chanting, playing instruments, moving, listening, and learning basic music notation, students develop knowledge about essential musical concepts such as rhythm, melody and harmony, form, expression, and timbre. The classroom repertoire is rich and varied: it includes folk songs, music from various countries and cultures, and music that spans from classical through the current day.
Students are given the opportunity to perform for others during the course of the year. These performances range from performing for other classes informally or during an assembly, performing for grandparents and special friends on Grandparents’ Day, presenting our annual Winter and Spring Concerts, and taking part in the Choir Showcase — a concert presented by third and fourth grade singers, along with choir members from the Middle and Upper Schools.
Instruments and Song
In all grade levels, particular emphasis is placed on developing a sense of steady beat and rhythm, matching pitch and developing good habits and a healthy tone quality in singing, and understanding the concepts of pitch, rhythm, tempo, dynamics, form, timbre, and texture. Students also work to develop appropriate technique on classroom instruments, increase their coordination while playing those instruments, and develop ensemble skills.
Classroom instruments include un-pitched percussion, such as rhythm sticks, shakers, triangles, tambourines, jingles, hand drums, tubanos, bongos, and a number of auxiliary instruments. The classroom is also equipped with a full Orff instrumentarium, which includes varying sizes of xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels. Students learn to read basic rhythms and the letter names of the notes in the treble clef, which they can apply to learning new songs on the xylophone, recorder (in third and fourth grades), or any other instrument at their disposal. They also cultivate their musical creativity through experiences in improvisation and composition.
Second grade students have a special violin class several times each week with a strings specialist. The purpose of the program, using the aural Suzuki approach which focuses on the enrichment of the human spirit, is to reinforce the listening, coordination, cooperation, and study skills that are essential to any learning. The skills they develop through this program are applicable to learning across the curriculum, and they also set up the students well for the more advanced musical learning in third and fourth grades. Students begin learning recorder in third grade, and they develop more advanced skills and fingering in fourth grade. Third and fourth graders also increase their ensemble experience through numerous instrumental ensembles in class and through participation in the Lower School choir.