THE WEST HARTFORD MUSIC EDUCATION PROGRAM
Philosophical Overview The West Hartford Public Schools nurtures every student’s ability to perform, create and respond to music of diverse cultures and historic periods. Music is a key component in the development of the whole person and is a universal expression of the human spirit. A life-long involvement with music enables the student to grow emotionally, intellectually and socially.
Importance of Music to Education Music is an integral part of a child’s education. Skills learned through music reinforce and improve learning in many subject areas, such as reading, math, language, visual art, and physical education.
In recent years much brain research has been undertaken to define the positive effects of music education. The noted Harvard professor, Howard Gardner, identifies music intelligence as one of the eight styles of learning for students. Other researchers have uncovered some significant results, such as:
• Primary Students who learn to read music while learning to read language achieve more positive results in their reading development. - R. Cutietta, University of Arizona
• First and second graders who received sequenced singing and art lessons perform better in math and reading than students who received standard arts instruction. -M. Gardiner, A. Fox, Brown University and Providence Music School
• Disadvantaged preschoolers display dramatic improvements in spatial reasoning ability after music training. Spatial IQ is crucial for higher brain functions such as complex mathematics. G. Shaw: “Early music training can enhance a child’s ability to reason.” -F. Rauscher, G. Shaw, University of California
• Students with coursework/experience in arts instruction scored 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 39 points higher on the math portion of the SAT than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. -Profiles from the College Board, 1995
Development of Musical Skills
Singing is the foundation of all music skills in the elementary vocal music curriculum. Using grade appropriate songs, singing games and rounds, music skills are sequentially taught and divided into five content areas:
• Students learn to sing grade appropriate songs in tune.
• Simple note patterns are extracted from song material such as “sol” and “mi”. These melody notes are called solfa (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do).
• The melodic patterns become more complex in each grade level.
• Performing with a steady beat is essential in developing rhythmic skills.
• Initially, children will sing and clap simple rhythmic patterns, using quarter & eighth notes which are referred to as “ta” and “ti-ti.”
• The rhythmic patterns become more complex in each grade level.
Reading & Writing
• Reading and writing involve responding to rhythmic and melodic notation.
• Students demonstrate reading skills by decoding and performing written rhythms and melodies.
• Writing skills include rhythms and placing notes on the music staff
• In grades K-5, students combine singing with a rhythmic or melodic accompaniment.
• In grades 3-5, students progress to singing 2-3 part songs in large and small group settings.
• Form is the organization of musical patterns.
• Students first recognize the phrases and then learn how they are organized.
In Kindergarten, we are using our OPPOSITES. Our activities, songs, and games use our TALKING VOICE or our SINGING VOICE, HIGH and LOW, FAST and SLOW.
In 1st Grade, we have been keeping a steady heart beat with our songs and rhymes and are able to clap the rhythms that we are singing and speaking. We have just discovered that when we are clapping rhythm and there is 1 sound on a heart beat, musicians call it TA, and when there are 2 sounds on a heart beat, musicians call it TI-TI!
2nd Graders and 3rd Graders have been reviewing all of their musical concepts from 1st and 2nd grades, and are working on new rhythm and melodic content. Since they haven't discovered what the new elements are yet, I still need to keep it a secret!
4th Graders are getting ready to plan for their recording studio projects. They are currently working in small groups, creating accompaniments for "Dinah". They are using the Engineering Design Process to guide their work.
In 5th Grade, the students are singing more complicated songs, singing in 3-part rounds instead of in 2-part rounds, and are practicing more complicated rhythmic and melodic patterns.