Keyed Up for 2016-2017!
by Cindy Beirne, Elementary School Music Teacher
Greetings from the Lower School music room! Many changes have happened over the summer, and returning students will notice that the entire room has flipped! Are you curious about what our Lower School students are doing in music class this upcoming year? I am excited to give you a preview!
Pre-K and Kindergarten students have fun learning pre-reading music concepts such as comparatives (loud/soft, fast/slow, high/low, same/different) and performing locomotor movements to music. We explore our musical space with our bodies through creative movement with scarves and beanbags.
Our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students delve into musical concepts through the world of Kodaly philosophy. Kodaly is an internationally known method of learning to read, write, sing, and play music. We use the first few minutes of music class to practice our music reading and writing. Then we expand on our music concepts through interactive play with a folk song game or with instrumental exploration with our wide array of instruments. Students love our instrument time on the carpet in which everyone gets to play! CCS is blessed to have over $2,000 of Orff instruments (xylophones and glockenspiels) that help students play accompaniments to songs as we sing. As students engage in part work, they are stretching their brains, working on left and right brain activity and having a fun time making music together.
We are very excited to continue our music education in the Lower School with the rich heritage of our recorder program and to extend it with the addition of a new keyboard lab! The 2016-2017 school year is the first year for the keyboard lab, and I would like to give our 5th grade students a 6-week Intro to Recorder Course before we start on the keyboards. I believe it will help students with reading the treble staff first while practicing playing one note at a time before transitioning to reading treble and bass staff and playing with both hands on the keyboard.
Beginning in 2016, 4th graders will learn the recorder as well. The recorder is a real instrument from the Renaissance period that is affordable for all students, is light enough for them to carry, doesn’t need to be tuned, and is full of practical teaching use. CCS has had a long tradition with the recorder program teaching students how to read pitches and rhythms.
It is a great transition instrument between the Orff instruments we use in the Lower School to band instruments a student may use in the Upper School. It is a wonderful way to develop ensemble while working on reading music, learning new styles of music, as well as having fun. Playing the recorder is all about breathing and proper fingering for each note so only one note can be played at a time. This requires us to play together as a class if we want to create harmony and play more complex literature. The focus in recorder class is learning to read music confidently and playing together as an ensemble - that is, making music together. The discipline required to stay together as a group is a valuable skill.
The keyboard is a more complex instrument, having more keys and thus giving the ability to play more than one note at a time. Our keyboard lab is state-of-the-art, giving each student the opportunity to move at his or her own pace. Students will also learn to read pitches and rhythms but will have the addition of the treble and bass clef. Classes will begin with a warm up activity together or a short lesson for the day and progress to students putting on headphones to work at an assigned keyboard on chosen pieces for the day. Students can play duets with the teacher or perform for the class if they choose or may work at a pace that is comfortable for them. Students who take private lessons outside of CCS will be encouraged to bring any pieces they are currently working on with them to class. Keyboards have several advantages over pianos: they do not have to be tuned, we can use headphones to give students individual attention, and we can teach a class of keyboards at the same time. Imagine having a year of keyboard instruction right here in our school!
Our music instruction at CCS builds from year to year, increasing in complexity and variety. Beginning with our youngest learners in Pre-K and building up to our piano lab in 5th grade, our students are learning and growing and having fun with music. Stop by and check out our music room and all that it has to offer!