What Goes On In Music Class?
Most of the time spent in kindergarten music focuses on learning the basics. This is done through games and lots of singing. Currently, they are learning dynamics (loud and soft) by playing games. In one of the games, I hide a picture of a treble clef somewhere in the room. One child hides and when he or she comes out, we sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" getting louder when the child is closer to the treble clef. We are also learning to draw treble and bass clefs along with learning the characteristics of a staff (5 lines and 4 spaces) and what notes look like. We also learn the musical alphabet. Of course, we do sing! Songs for this age focus on pitch matching and singing loud or soft. Most songs also have movement associated with them. The kids' favorite things are playing instruments (focuses on keeping the beat) and using our writing boards (practicing drawing music things). The writing boards and instruments are brought out with good behavior points. If the students behave well and I do not have to "draw a note" on the board, they earn time to do those activities.
During our time together, we study different notes, what they look like, and how the stems are attached. We reinforce what treble and bass clefs are as well as what "high and low", "short and long" notes are. We also learn "up and down" of note stems and melodies as well as the musical alphabet. We will begin to learn about different instruments and their families. Singing focuses on pitch matching and lots of movement. We also play instruments and utilize our writing boards. As with Kindergarten, these activities are earned with good behavior.
Identifying different notes becomes even more important for this grade. We will learn about whole, quarter, half, eighth and sixteenth notes and rests as well as the notes of the treble clef. Understanding beat, rhythm patterns, and beginning meter are things that we will begin to work on. We will always sing, but now we will try singing rounds to get the students ready to sing harmony. Additionally, instrument families as well as identifying the sounds and names of specific instruments will be learned.
This is the first year that the students begin to plan the music for mass. Each grade is assigned a specific week in which they will be in charge of reading and bringing up the gifts. It is during this week that the music sung at mass will be their choices. We summarize the theme of the day, and then the class picks four songs out of eight pre-selected songs. This is the year we concentrate in depth on the instruments of the orchestra. We start with instrument origins (such as Native American instruments and their modern equivalent) and work our way through all the instruments and their sounds. As always we work on good singing techniques and start to listen to different kinds of music as well as the works of different composers.
Just as in 3rd grade, the 4 graders are in charge of specific masses. We summarize the theme of the day, and then the class picks four songs out of eight pre-selected songs. Understanding time signatures and more intense study of note names, beats, and identification become more important. It is during this year that they begin to play recorders. These instruments are provided by the school. Each student checks out a recorder and is responsible for it during the entire year. At the end of the year, they have the option of purchasing their recorder for around $7. Otherwise, the recorder is sanitized and returned at the end of the year. Recorders begin during the 2ndquarter. There will, of course, be singing but the primary focus will be on recorders. We utilize the Recorder Karate program in which students earn "belts" for correctly playing songs that grow more difficult with each belt.
As with 3rd and 4th grade, the students will plan the music for mass their specific week. They also plan the music for their confirmation mass. We also learn and discuss the various seasons of the liturgical year. The primary focus for 5th grade is studying different styles of music. There are also times when we review notes, rhythm, etc. This is also the year in which they may choose to participate in band. Assessments are done during the end of their 4th-grade year by Karen Murphy (our band teacher) and they meet individually and as a group with her on specific band days.
Music for their assigned week of mass is still planned. More stress is made on the meaning of the readings and there are discussions about them. We also learn and discuss the various seasons of the liturgical year. Parts of a choir, orchestra, band, as well as various types of music, are reviewed and reinforced. The primary focus for 6th grade is paired with their social studies curriculum in which we study the different types of music throughout our world.
Just as with all the other grades, we plan the music for our specific week of masses. More stress is made on the meaning of the readings and there are discussions about them so that a better understanding of how music fits in with liturgy is achieved. The primary focus for this year is the history of music from Medieval to present day. Students have the opportunity to participate in an all-city diocesan Jr. High honor choir.
Planning of the mass music, as well as the music for their graduation mass, is done for this grade. The primary focus in class is American music history and we try to follow very closely the curriculum in their social studies class. We also offer an optional guitar lesson class once a week during study hall. Each child will have the opportunity to "check out" a guitar to practice at home if they choose. Our school owns 18 guitars. Students will have the opportunity to participate in an all-city diocesan Jr. High honor choir.
The 2018-19 school year will be my 15th year teaching at St. John's school.
- - Mrs. Ellen Soukup
Have you always wanted to be a teacher? If not what was your "dream job"?
At first, but then I changed my major to Horticulture and then now I am back! The best job that I could have dreamed up was to be a mom!
Unbroken, a WWII Survival Story, Jesus Calling and anything mystery related
Favorite thing to do in your free time:
Cook and make rosaries
Best summer adventure:
My sister's house on the lake in Virginia
Favorite School Lunch:
What are you most looking forward to this year?
The summer youth choir continuing