Music is taught in grades pre-K through 5 incrementally – concepts and skills taught one year are then utilized and expanded through the following years. Pre-music reading skills begin in first grade, with students expected to read simple lines of music by third grade when they have a unit on playing recorders. Reading music continues, so that by fifth grade students are able to write their own music.
Songs start with familiar children’s songs and games, and include folk songs from many countries, performance pieces, and songs used to teach specific reading concepts. Students sing in all classes, at first a cappella in order to begin developing pitch and beat awareness, then with accompaniment. Part-singing is introduced in third grade, and by fifth grade students are singing in harmony.
Cross-learning is used whenever possible – relating music to history, social customs, religious practices and history, mathematics, and science, this happens as often as material allows. In fifth grade students learn about the lives and times of specific composers – the influence on them, and how they have influenced society since they were alive.
Music in the middle school becomes choral performance – time is focused on preparing specific pieces for performance. Specific reading issues and performance techniques are emphasized as needed by the music being performed.
Pre-drama learning objectives begin in kindergarten, and are revisited every year after that as students learn to be comfortable performing in front of their peers. Fifth grade students are selected to act out the Christmas program – the first introduction to a strictly theatre-oriented class.