Classroom Music Information

Preschool - Music Content 

 
The question I am asked most often is ......"What music is appropriate for my pre-school child?" The answer to this very important question will help shape the future of your child's musical life. 

I like to compare the introduction of music to the introduction of food to an infant. You are careful with food choices you make for your infant child. You give them food that is nutritious and easily digested.Therefore, don't introduce music without considering what is appropriate for them to hear. We want a musical diet rich in lots of different sounds just as you want the dinner plate to have more than just fries and ketchup. Minor key songs, major key songs, songs in varying meters and styles, should be included in a pre-school child's musical diet. Tempo and length of excerpt are important considerations when introducing classical music to a child. I don't think it is appropriate to put a pre-school child in a seat of a concert hall and require them to sit through an entire symphony. While exposing them to classical music is important, care must be taken to ensure they will enjoy the experience.

Movement during music helps expand creativity and personal expression. Movement may be initiated by your child or begun by you. As long as you are visibly enjoying the music, your child will enjoy it too. The same must be said for singing. I have had plenty of parents tell me how poorly they sing. Most are afraid they will pass their poor vocal skills to their children. Here is the most important point.... It is not HOW you sing, but THAT you sing for your child. They need to see that you enjoy singing. You don't need to sing at the same time your child sings. In fact, It is sometimes preferable not to sing at the same time as your child. They often will try to imitate your voice and may keep them from singing in their natural voice. Sing for them and then let them sing for you.

Overall, remember to keep it simple. Folk music is best. Recordings that use children's voices are best. Music that has a lot of noisy background sounds will interrupt and distort the sound of the melody. The child may love the "beat" of this "commercial" music but it might not be the best for their ear. In fact I believe this music contributes to the confusion some children experience when I ask them to sing a melody for me.

A great series of music, based on a lot of research, is the FIRST STEPS series by John Feierabend that is available through GIA Publications in Chicago. These recordings are amazing for children birth to four years of age. My wife and I have found the arrangements, keys, style, and repetition of songs and rhymes to be extremely important to the musical development in our own children. I highly recommend this series.

The music I have selected to teach your child contains many rudimentary rhythms and pitch sequences that will reinforce strong tonal and rhythmic concepts.

For more information please don't hesitate to send a note to me in school. 
                                      
                                                      

Kindergarten - Music Content

In Kindergarten your child will be expanding their repertoire of sounds and songs. I will focus on sight word recognition and letter recognition when teaching rhymes and songs.  A varied list of simple songs, circles, game songs, rhymes, and dances will allow your child to expand their understanding and interpretation of musical qualities such as beat, pitch, expression, phrasing, and tempo. The music also helps a child to explore creativity, language, social interaction and a host of other important facets of the learning process. Some simple auralanalysis of music is included at this level. You may hear your child talk about Mr. Major and Mrs. Minor. (They live on Tonality Street). This analysis helps your child develop an understanding of music beyond what they may typically experience.

Songs and rhymes include...

Songs: The Jack in the Box Jumps Up, Wake Up You Lazy Bones, Roll the Ball, No More Pie, and many others.

Rhymes: Ms. White Had a Fright, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Little Miss Muffet, Hey Diddle Diddle, and many more.

In October I will be introducing Mr. Major and Mrs. Minor to all Kindergarten students. Get ready to hear their wonderful impressions about these two characters that help me explain the difference between music that is in a major key and music that is in a minor key.

 

Grade 1 - Music Content

In first grade music moves from shorter duration to longer duration songs and rhymes. Many of the songs are from the "song tale" category.These song tales require a child to figure out the story in the song.Other songs support and reinforce classroom concepts such as left/right,fast/slow, loud/soft, while introducing vocabulary words that spur creative thought. Formal, organized line dances are introduced as well as simple analysis of musical qualities like tonality and meter not previously explored in kindergarten. Simple note reading activities are introduced by the end of the year.

We will begin to explore music in major and minor tonality in the month of October. I will be re-introducing Mr. Major and Mrs. Minor to your first grade child,

 

Look in the coming months for updates on the class work for your child's grade. 

 

Grade 2 - Music Content

In second grade your child will begin more advanced work in music. The introduction of "part singing" takes place in grade two. I introduce this through canon singing. Previously, your child has sung the same words, at the same time, on the same pitches as all the other children in the class. Now we begin to look for independence in singing.Also, movement activity centers on country dance movement and square dance movement. These activities further cement concepts learned in earlier years. 

The music and learning connection is a focus of music time in second grade. Your child will learn songs that will enable recall of all fifty states of the United States in alphabetical order. The continents and oceans will be reinforced in the music class with an original song written expressly for this purpose. A medley of songs about our great country pair nicely with songs in foreign languages.

Second grade is an important year for firming up tonal and rhythmic understanding. Lots of pattern work and solo singing give me a chance to establish a musical profile of your child. This information is valuable to me as I make decisions that will help your child become a lifelong learner of music. 

 

Grade 3 - Music Content

In grade three your child will begin formal training on an instrument. All third grade students will be taught, in music class, to read basic musical patterns on the Recorder. The Recorder, a flute-like instrument, is a great beginner instrument because it fits easily into the hands of a third grade child. Students will concentrate on learning to play simple songs then proceed to more advanced ones. While much of the year is spent playing the Recorder, more advanced "part singing" is also emphasized.  

IMPORTANT: Your third grade child must have an instrument to play in music class by October 1, 2015. The instrument needed is a Yamaha 24B Soprano recorder. Other recorders can work but sometimes sound a tone that is different than the Yamaha. 

As of September 10, 2015, letters have gone out to parents containing information for getting a recorder for your child. If you have any questions about recorder use, please do not hesitate to contact me by personal note sent to the school or by email at paul.scanlon@whschools.org.

This year third grade students will be studying opera as a musical form.  This work will involve understanding various parts of opera including recitative, aria, and chorus.  We will also study various vocal parts that include soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.  We will conclude our study in opera with a live presentation at Mackrille School of an original opera written expressly for West Haven students.  The opera, How Tortoise Got His Shell, is based on an African folk tale and is being composed by a team of musicians from New York.

 

Grade 4 - Music Content

As part of the fourth grade, your child will automatically be part of the Chorus. In Chorus we have an opportunity to teach your child advanced "part singing", harmonizing, and concert repertoire. I identify four types of songs.

1) Unison Songs - Where all children sing the same song at the same time.

2) Canons - Where children sing the same song but start at different times.

3) Part Songs - Where children sing differing melodies for the same words.

4) Partner Songs - Where children sing two completely different songs at the
    same time.

Your child will sing unison songs,canons in three parts, part songs, and partner songs and learn basic music reading skills that will be useful in future years. The Chorus will perform a concert that all parents and families will be invited to attend.

The Spring Concert and Fine Arts night for all fourth grade students will be announced shortly.  Th Winter concert was such a great success we simply have to have a concert in the spring. We look forward to a nice evening together.

This year fourth grade students will be studying opera as a musical form.  This work will involve understanding various parts of opera including recitative, aria, and chorus.  We will also study various vocal parts that include soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.  We will conclude our study in opera with a live presentation at Mackrille School of an original opera written expressly for West Haven students.  The opera, How Tortoise Got His Shell, is based on an African folk tale and is being composed by a team of musicians from New York.



Please view this website for up to date postings on concerts, classroom performances, and other musical events throughout the year.

                                 Thank you,
                                                      Mr. Scanlon