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What is Music at the Primary School?
The music program at Indian Hill Primary is an eclectic composite of three philosophies from Zoltan Kodaly, Carl Orff, and Jacque-Emile Dalcroze – visionaries in the field of music education. These men have contributed to the development of musicianship in children through their different areas of expertise. The Kodaly technique is used primarily for singing and melodic development. There are 8 “hand signs” – one for each note of the scale – that, when used, help to “physically” place the pitch while singing. This enables the student to learn pitch relationship (high and low sounds) with a great degree of success.
The Dalcroze technique is used with movement and teaching eurhythmics to children. The students HEAR rhythms and concepts played on the piano before SEEING them on the board. This method of kinesthetically (touch/feeling) teaching music is an invaluable resource in building a solid rhythmic foundation in children.
The Orff technique uses movement, improvisation, and barred instruments (xylophones) as key tools of teaching. Short rhythm patterns – ostinati – are played on the instruments. Each rhythm is different and when all are layered together, you have a lovely ensemble of musical ideas in an “orchestral” setting. The students hear one idea while playing another, which strengthens their musicianship as well as their fine motor development.
I apply all these techniques and connect them with the curriculum at Indian Hill to provide a strong foundation for musical development for the students. At the end of the 2nd grade year, they are able to dance, understand rhythmic and melodic concepts in movement and instrumental playing, and perform in a musical presentation in front of an audience.
The Kindergarten music curriculum develops the basic musical concepts of rhythm, melody, 2-part song, and texture. The students play various non-pitched percussion instruments such as tambourine, triangles, woodblocks, rhythm sticks, finger cymbals, and hand drums – all increase fine motor coordination and rhythmic development. They also learn the scale (musical notes that follow in stepwise progression) on an 8-note colored xylophone, which established a foundation for playing the Orff xylophones in 1st grade.
Movement is a major component of the learning process in music class. Piano improvisation guides the students to listening to music change speeds and qualities as they move AND introduces rhythmic patterns that they will later SEE, SING, AND PLAY on instruments. They learn circle dances that require partners, which helps develop social skills and fine motor coordination through clapping and patting. They play rhythmic patterns and use the language of “ti-ti (pronounced teetee) and ta”. These patterns can be layered to create a wonderful musical texture of many different sounds.
The kindergarten does have a musical presentation at the end of the year called “The Music Hour”, which showcases the best of what they have learned all year. This is performed for the school and in the evening.
The 1st grade music curriculum continues building on the kindergarten foundation and they begin to develop stronger rhythmic skills with a wider range of melodies to sing. They also learn line and circle dances – American and International – that ALSO provide musical skills and concepts from the curriculum. Ear training also continues with piano eurhythmics, which continues to strengthen rhythmic development.
All of the songs sung in class are written out and placed on the board. This helps reinforce and strengthen literacy skills outside the classroom setting. Rhythm, meter, melody, and words are always discussed before singing the song introduced in class. Movement usually follows for added skill development with rhythm and melody.
In October, the 1st grade performs Halloween songs at the Seasons Retirement Home. In November, they participate in a Thanksgiving Assembly in the gym, and again in December, perform several Christmas and Hanukkah songs for the school. In March, they perform a musical, with lines, costumes, and a very entertaining story line with songs to sing!
The 2nd grade curriculum continues the 1st grade concepts with a greater understanding of the basic elements of music. More difficult rhythms and melodies are studied, explored, and played together daily in small groups and ensembles. The students move to more involved dances using concentric circles frequently, and also with partners. They can sing the scale with hand signs (do , re, mi, etc) as well as 3-4 part rounds. The 2nd grade also performs a musical and is involved in the Thanksgiving and Holiday assemblies at the school
For extra enrichment, check out the WGUC website:
. There are lots of fun activities connected with classical music to enjoy
Primary Players is a group of 2nd graders who practice 1 day a week after school to create and learn 3 performances during the school year. Each show is filled with dances, instruments and lines to connect the songs together to form a wonderful presentation of talent. The 3 shows we perform are the Halloween Happening, Holiday Happening, and An All American Musical Celebration in the spring. Their Holiday show is also performed for the school the day before they perform at the high school. The members of the group are chosen at the end of 1st grade. Many curriculum skills taught in the classroom are reinforced and used to a greater extend in the group for musical enrichment and growth.