musical notes

A Musical Note

This section explains the teaching objectives that are being addressed in your child's music class.  It will also provide you with some vocabulary that I am using with my students.

All grades will be learning about the same composer during the school year.  Every 6-8 weeks, the "Who Am I?" bulletin board in my classroom changes.  This board gives information and a short list of works by a certain composer.  At the beginning of each class, we listen to a short excerpt from a famous piece by the composer.  We cover about four composers per year.  For more information about composers, see the section of this web site entitled "composers".  At the beginning of this year (2019-2020), all students will be experiencing the music of Joseph Haydn, followed by Claude Debussy starting about November, Louis Armstrong in February and Sergei Prokofiev in April.

Select your child's grade:

First grade    Second grade      Third grade          Vocabulary 

During their first year of music, first graders will experience music in a variety of ways.  In September, the focus will be on "finding" the singing voice, moving their bodies to the beat of the music, and introducing them to the Orff instrumentarium.  The definitions of loud/soft, fast/slow, high/low, and short/long will be explored and examined aurally and kinesthetically.  By the end of the year, your child will understand how to read rhythms of quarter and eighth notes and quarter rests, and melodically, the pitches of so, mi and la.  They will be able to find those three pitches on the staff.  (In this district, we do not focus on note names at this level, instead we focus on intervallic reading.)  I often use children's books to aid in the teaching of music, which in turn, aids in their reading and comprehension.


In second grade, in addition to reviewing the knowledge from their first year, the students become more focused on the form of music, or the way music is put together.  Sometimes, I will give them an "A" section and they will improvise alternating sections to create a class rondo form.  The forms of verse and refrain, round and ABA will also be discussed.  They will also add a new rhythm and its corresponding rest to their vocabulary:  half notes.  In melody, students will be focusing on the "home tone" do and be experiencing many songs including the familiar cadence of mi re do.  (Sounds like "Hot Cross Buns")  Because of the focus of Native American tribes in their Social Studies curriculum, I often spend some time with them listening, singing and playing games from that culture.  Second graders are slowly gaining more independence in their music making and learning how to manipulate the tools that they possess.


Third graders spend a great deal of time on the pentatonic scale.  They will be able to sing and play the intervallic relationships within this scale fluently.  They will also explore shifting the "home tone" from do to la; The primary difference is that the do pentaton gives a sound similar to a major scale and the la pentaton sounds more minor. By the end of the year, I hope to have the students reading this scale from the staff with a compulsory knowledge of staff note names in relation to the Orff instruments. They are also experimenting with body percussion sounds and rhythms.  In movement, students begin to learn more complex folk dances and the vocabulary of dance steps. During the third grade year, I hope to have the students taking on more of a role in the creation of music, both planned and improvisatory.  Many students will also take part in chorus this year, which greatly helps in the learning of note reading and form.

Orff instrumentarium
 - Orff refers to the founder of the "Orff-Schulwerk approach" of teaching, Carl Orff.  In his philosophy, numerous types of percussion instruments are used.  These include barred instruments, and various small percussion. 
In addition to instruments, the Orff Schulwerk philosophy encourages movement, both folk and creative dance, and using language as a springboard for music.

Barred instruments - include xylophones (have wooden bars), metallophones (have metal bars) and glockenspiels (smallest of the barred instruments, also has metal bars)

Pentatonic scale
 - a scale originating in China that has no half steps and is made up of five notes.  To hear what this scale sounds like, play all the black keys of the piano.

Ostinati  -  the plural of ostinato.  An ostinato is a pattern that repeats.  We often use ostinati patterns to accompany music we are singing or a poem.

To hear a fun example of multiple ostinato patterns happening at the same time, click here!

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