Teaching the Joy of Music at St. Elizabeth’s
St. Elizabeth’s School offers music classes for all grade levels three times each week. The classes primarily follow the Kodaly educational philosophy of music education, the tenets of which are that true musical literacy is the right of every child, singing is the foundation of all music education as it is the child’s primary instrument, and that the folk songs of our own culture provide the best vehicle for instruction. Music classes include a wide variety of activities – tuneful singing, purposeful movement, musical games, memory training, inner hearing, reading and writing music, and playing instruments.
Our kindergarteners spend 30 minutes in music class on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Each week our songs and activities follow a theme, such as horses, transportation, or farm animals. Our lessons include pitch exploration, simple songs, echo or call and response songs, movement exploration, fingerplays, circle games, and playing simple instruments. We also focus on basic musical concepts, such as fast and slow, loud and soft, and high and low as well as tuneful singing. By the time kindergartners reach first grade, they will be well prepared for the introduction of formal musical terms and concepts.
Our first- through fourth-graders spend 45 minutes in music class and have lessons that combine the practice of learned concepts with the preparation and presentation of new skills and musical terms. We begin with the basic concepts of rhythm and beat and then move on to the more specific musical notation of various notes and rests. Students also learn the basic notion of high and low pitches and will grow in their knowledge of specific pitches, such as do, mi, and so, as well as notes on the Staff. They also learn about various other musical concepts such as dynamics, verse, and refrain. In addition, students have many opportunities to learn to play basic instruments in ensembles throughout the year.
Finally, there is a musical unit offered that is specific to each grade level. Our first-graders learn about the instruments of the orchestra. Second-graders focus on Camille Saint-Saens and his symphony “The Carnival of the Animals.” Our third-graders have an opportunity to learn about many of our great composers, while students in the fourth grade continue to learn to play the recorder.
As you can see, our students enjoy a rich, diverse musical education experience at St. Elizabeth’s School.