We've had a beautiful beginning to the school year in music with all the classes. Toddlers and Pre-Primary classes have learned dozens of new songs, poems, and movement activities. Plus, they have learned how to use sticks, bells, scarves, and chickitas. Kindergartener students participate in the Pre-Primary classes and also have their own separate classes; Kindergarten students have had their glockenspiels several months now and are getting very proficient at using the mallets and reading the notes to all their songs. We also sing as we play the songs; sometimes we sing the note names, sometimes how the notes move from one to the next, and then we'll sing the words to the songs. We also study the Note Tree to learn more about rhythm, how the notes look, how long they last, etc.
Lower Elementary students are halfway through their recorder books, are making beautiful sounds, know the fingerings and how to read the notes from middle C up 9 notes to high D. We always sing the songs before we play them, so they're learning to sing the songs, the note names, the rhythm, etc., before they learn to play the songs. Upper Elementary has just started our newest music adventure: They are learning how to play the dulcimer! We got the kits several weeks ago, I put them together and glued on the fretboards, and then the students decorated their own dulcimer w/ markers and stickers. I tuned the dulcimers, and we've just started learning how to use the pick to strum the strings, and how to use the wooden noter to make melodies on the melody string, leaving the drone string open.
This year I'm using Musikgarten curricula for Toddlers and Pre-Primaries, and the public domain materials of Kindermusik for the glockenspiel (pre-keyboard) and dulcimer (pre-string), and the Suzuki book for the recorder (pre-winds, pre-brass.) My focus for Toddlers is to reinforce rhythm so the children keep their sense of rhythm and the steady beat that are innate in newborns and start to deteriorate at about the age of 2 (unless there is reinforcement at that age). For Pre-Primaries and Kindergarten students, the focus is on tonal memory, since these ages are right in the window of opportunity to learn how to match their voices to the pitches, and remember those sounds. Both levels of Elementary students are ready for the cognitive work of reading music, and we work on that as we're playing recorder and dulcimer.
All levels also are doing a rounded program of body awareness, stationary and traveling movement, vocal development, rhythmic development, and using various rhythm instruments. All senses--except smell!--and all areas of the brain are used in our music classes.
When I completed the inventory of the music program instruments and materials, we all were amazed that the total actual cost of the music inventory of the school is above $10,000. That speaks volumes to me about the value this school places on the music program, and it's to the credit of the parents and leadership that we've built such an inventory over the years!
I presented a program to the staff at the October staff meeting, with emphasis on music in the Montessori classroom; the first goal is to establish a listening center for each classroom, w/ a CD player or iPod and headphones, and to start putting together the 45 recommended musical selections, the instrument cards, the composer cards, the music history timeline, and the orchestra seating chart for use at the listening center. The second goal is to have musical instruments on the shelves along w/ the previously mentioned cards or sheets. The third goal is to have music at the circle once a month, with a lesson presented by the classroom teacher. All these ideas come from the bookMusic in the Montessori Classroomby Shelley Murley, which was presented to the school several years ago by Carol Howie. NOTE: All classes are desperate for good musical CDs, either instrumental or with good children's singing. We would especially love donations of classical music CDs!
All students are working on our holiday program, which will be December 21. There will be 3 separate programs to which parents and guests are invited, and 1 program which will be taped for later presentation to the parents. Parents are invited to the two programs by the Pre-Primary classes, and also to the program by Elementary students. The Toddler program will be taped for the parents. (Since there is no early dismissal that day, it would be too disruptive to the children to have parents come to their morning program and then leave. Thank you for understanding!) The Pre-Primary classes of Ms. Dola and Ms. Kelly and Ms. Shree will be combined for a 9:00 program; we will start at the stroke of 9 o'clock, so please be in place and ready to go by 8:45 that morning. We will tape the Toddler program at 9:30. The Pre-Primary classes of Ms. Agnes and Ms. Janaki will be at 10:00, and both levels of Elementary students will be at 11:00. Again, I start right on time, so parents who come to the Pre-Primary and Elementary programs should be in the classroom a few minutes before the time listed.
Thank you so much for your interest, feedback and support!
Sat, December 1, 2012
by Ms. Kathy Fisher