Third through Fifth Grade
All third through fifth grade Lower School
students are enrolled in music classes. In third grade, students survey three courses, one each trimester, including recorder, chorus and violin. As the students move into fourth grade, they may pick one of the three options (recorder becomes instrumental band) for a year’s study. They have the option of choosing again for fifth grade, but many remain in the classes they chose for fourth grade.
Recorder students at this level are expected to learn basic music theory and concepts, including reading notes, note values and rhythms. Students can respond to basic rhythm patterns, use proper breathing technique (recorders), fingerings and phrasing. They can perform 2-part harmonies in ¾ and 4/4 time signature, and they can read a musical "road map." Additionally, the students can listen to and critique other students' performances, and they can memorize and perform a range of songs in a concert setting.
Fourth-grade band students are able to use musical terminology, and they understand how to use note and fingering charts. They are aware of and use correct posture, and they are able to read complex rhythms, use correct articulation techniques and proper phrasing. They build on their understanding of music theory and terminology, and they use dynamics to make their music sound more interesting. Eventually, they are able to play from sheet music rather than just the band book, and they can read more sophisticated music, including sixteenth notes, dotted notes, and syncopation.
They use their classroom instruments to play melodies and accompaniments from a diverse repertoire of music from diverse cultures, and they can improvise simple rhythmic and melodic patterns with their instruments. They are able to critique musical performances with specific criteria and understand what makes a performance a work of art.
Fifth-grade band students produce a broader range of notes with more advanced music and tempos, and they learn to create more fluid-sounding performances. They are able to perform basic rhythmic, melodic, and chordal patterns (arpeggios) independently, and they perform more advanced rhythmic notation. Sight reading improves, and jazz rhythms and blues and chromatic scales are performed. Students are able to identify ensembles from a variety of genres and cultures, and they can describe music forms, including theme and variations and twelve-bar blues.
They develop competencies and creative skills in problem solving (through figuring out rhythms), communication (asking questions), and management of time (practicing instruments at home) that contribute to lifelong learning and career skills. Ultimately, they perform in a “pit orchestra” for a 1920’s silent film, performed before a live audience, and they understand the role of music in community events.