Class Spotlight – Music Program
For our spotlight this week, we explore our Music program. The 1st through 5th grades are being taught by the lovely Deanna Bray, and the Middle School (6th through 8th grades) are under the wing of Mike Harris.
Currently, 1st grade is singing songs about spring, playing their flutes, and composing a song about spring together using simple rhymes and a pentatonic scale. Mrs. Donati’s class will be singing their song in their year-end play! The 2nd grade is also playing their flutes and singing spring songs. Their favorite song right now is called Tulip Round, which is about Tulips growing in the garden. They are using flutes, glockenspiels, and triangles for accompaniment.
Grades 3-5 are composing their own recorder pieces using a pentatonic scale in 4/4 time and have composed some amazing creations! The 3rd grade is discovering the world of notation. They are learning that those black dots with stems have meaning and that they can create their own piece of music with those notes! Some of the students have composed songs well over 2 pages long because they just had to write more. The 4th grade is also learning how they can create a piece of music and not just read one! They used the same structure as 3rd grade with a few more twists. Some of new students were very surprised that they could write something on their own. The two 5th grades really took off with their compositions. Some of the students wrote lyrics. Most of them were able to play their compositions on their recorders.
Parents can ask your children about these compositions. Students in the 1st grade should be able to sing you their class song. Students in the 2nd grade will tickle your ears with the Tulip Round, and students in the 3rd to 5th grades can show you their song. They should be bringing them home shortly.
The Middle School students gave a rousing performance at their concert on May 13th. The selections included the playfully descriptive “Riversong;” Emily Dickinson’s lovely poem set to music, “I Shall Not LIve in Vain;” a contemporary patriotic number, “Let Freedom Ring;” the gentle and picturesque “Something Told the Wild Geese;” the students’ favorite, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” from the Broadway musical, Hamilton; and finally, the timeless and inspirational, “The Impossible Dream,” from Man of La Mancha.
The 6th through 8th grade students have been working on basic vocal techniques which include: proper breathing from the diaphragm, posture for singing, open mouth and throat, creating a pleasing, focused and energized tone, singing on pitch, blending with other voices, vocal styles, sight singing and dynamic expression.
Some of the older students have already had beginning music lessons and know how to read music. The majority of them do not, so they learn basic music reading and theory throughout the school year. They learn treble and bass clefs, names of the notes, dynamic markings, time signatures, how to read and count rhythms and how to recognize different intervals by sight and by ear.
Mr. Mike says that he loves it it when the students connect with the music, engage with it, give it their all and express it as a gift to family and friends. He also enjoys it when the “lights come on” and they understand a musical concept or hear how a musical phrase sung well can move an audience as well as their own hearts. Be sure to ask your student what he or she has learned and to demonstrate the vocal techniques they practice.