Curriculum

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  • By the end of fifth grade, after six years of music class, students should be able to move to the beat of music and sing and match a given pitch.  Students that cannot sing and match a given pitch should still be able to sing a song in a key that fits their vocal range.  Along with musical skills, students will ideally have an enjoyment and appreciation of the art form that will serve them well as life-long learners. 
  • The number of songs learned in a year varies by grade level.  Kindergarten students will learn many short songs and Fifth graders will learn fewer longer songs.  We either sing songs unaccompanied so we can hear and appreciate our singing or singing is accompanied by piano, autoharp, or drums and classroom percussion instruments.  Upper grades sing songs in rounds and in two-parts.  The chorus sings songs for performance that are usually accompanied by piano. 
  • Each grade level builds a movement foundation of activities not only to develop strength, coordination, and balance, but also to move to the beat of music we sing or hear.  Grades 2-5 do a progression of dances that provide a movement sequence that goes with American or ethnic music.  Learning dances also improves students' ability to sustain their attention.
  • For grades 1-5, I present composers of the month that are chosen to further students' enjoyment of listening to quality music.  Composers of the month also give students an historic context for the music they hear.  I change this sometime for the students to learn a musical form (last year, we learned what a Concerto is) or some facet of music literacy such as tempo or dynamic contrast.  There are a few songs that all grades learn such as the Willard Song, our very own school song.
  • Kindergarten classes have music twice weekly for half-hour classes.  All other grades have music once per week with forty-five minute classes.  I use a hands-on approach to music learning.  Students' discovery of musical concepts and elements in class is a result of their participation in class. Grade by grade, here are music outcomes for Willard students:
  • In two half-hour sessions per week, kindergarten classes work on the skills that are the foundation for further music learning. These include the musical concepts: fast and slow, loud and soft, long and short sounds.  Students gain awareness of environmental sounds and the different sounds of instruments.  Students begin to think a song in their head without singing it out loud, a process we call "inner hearing".  We build repertory in Kindergarten:  kindergartners learn approximately fifty songs and games in a year.  We will do one or two informal musical plays and we will explore classroom percussion instruments.  We spend much time doing vocal explorations for pitch matching and moving to our own beats, the beats to our songs and chants, and eventually recorded music.  We also learn "about" music from books and selected parts of videos.  The best outcome of Kindergarten music is the students really love music, have some solid skills for singing and moving to music, have a substantial repertory of songs, and are ready to learn more in first grade.
  • In one forty-five minute class per week, students in first grade can read and write simple rhythms that include quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests, all in 4-beat patterns.  Students learn that we put beats into groups that we call 'Measures'.  Students spend time exploring high and low sounds in preparation for learning to read pitches in second grade.  Students sing about forty songs in a year and do two informal musical plays.  Students play classroom instruments, explore expressing music using purposeful movement, and listen to and describe selected music.  
  • Second graders learn to read and write pitches in a moveable "Doh" system:  So, Mi, La, and Doh.  Students review about putting beats into groups called measures.  Students learn the element, sixteenth notes, which is four sounds in a beat.  At the end of second grade, students prepare to learn the note between Mi and Do, called Re.  Second graders dance some American and ethnic dances, and play classroom percussion instruments.  We also do some directed listening to music and describing music and performances.
  • Third graders bring together the learning from previous years when they learn to play the recorder.  They practice the fine-motor skills needed to play the instrument and then learn to read notes on the staff while they play.  We also learn dances, sing songs either in rounds or with accompaniment.  They learn to sing or play approximately thirty songs.  In the early spring, third graders write a short song that they can sing and play on their instrument.  Then we go to the computer lab and notate the song using Finale Notepad software.
  • In the fourth grade, students learn to read and write some syncopated rhythms.  They learn more difficult ethnic dances and they study the musical forms:  rondo, theme and variation, and minimalism.  Students get to explore the musical form, RONDO (which is A,B,A,C,A) at the computer lab by creating their own rondos using Garage Band.  Recorder playing reinforces literacy skills, which further extends the learning for those students playing a string instrument.  They study different meters in music and do some simple conducting while singing rounds.  By the end of fourth grade, students should be able to sing, read, and write the notes of the pentatonic scale.  
  • Fourth graders can opt to play a stringed instrument:  violin, viola, cello, or stringed bass.  They have a separate teacher, Mrs. Anna Anderson, who gives them a group lesson once per week and has them perform several times during the year. They can also play a band instrument and those teachers are Mr. Chris Noce and Mr. Paul Halpainy.  
  • Fifth graders spend much time in general music class learning about music and music history.  We study early rock n' roll music, jazz, and then the history of Western Classical music.  We learn about chords and how to play 12-Bar Blues.  Students read and write simple songs, and dance some complicated dances. Fifth graders can write down what they hear, within the confines of our curriculum.  They have begun to sight sing simple melodies.
  • As for performing groups, all Fifth graders can choose to be in the chorus and/or play an instrument in the band or orchestra.  In additon to playing in the Willard band, they are given weekly 45-minute lessons on their chosen instruments.  Mr. Paul Halpainy and Mr. Chris Noce conduct the Willard band and to teach band lessons on Wednesdays at Willard.  Students can also continue to play a stringed instrument that they began with Mrs. Anderson in fourth grade.  The Willard band performs several times during the year, as does the orchestra.  The Willard chorus rehearses for 45-minutes on only full-day Tuesdays, approximately 10-11 times per year.  Conducted by Ms Bethell, the chorus performs approximately twice for evening concerts and at in-school assemblies.  All musical performing groups will be playing at the Willard Arts Night on May 23rd, 2016.  The Willard Chorus will also participate in the Townwide Martin Luther King Celebration that will be on January 13th, 2016 at the Fenn School at 7 pm.
  • Please read the nine standards for music education outlined on another section of this website.