Music in the Lower School

Facets of the Curriculum:


  1. What is musical literacy?
  • The ability to read notes and rhythms on a staff and accurately play an instrument using musical notation
  • The understanding of basic musical symbols such as repeat sign, dynamics symbol, time signature, etc.
  1. How is musical literacy taught?
  • “Music Ace” curriculum
  • Notes, rhythms, musical symbols reinforced through games, magnetic boards, worksheets, floor staff with plates, flashcards
  • Notes played on barred instruments – short phrases and songs read and played by the children
  • “Music Ace” series in the computer lab (begins in the second grade)
  • Study of the recorder is introduced in the third grade

Ensemble Playing

  1. What is ensemble playing?
  • The ability to play instruments with others in a group as in a band or orchestra, playing one’s individual part in time while listening to the other
  1. How is ensemble playing taught?
  • Usually by rote or memory
  • Instrument part is first learned through body percussion
  • Parts transferred to barred and percussion instruments
  • Each part is gradually added so the children can listen to each layer as it is added
  • Dancing, singing, improvisational activities or game-playing is almost always included


  1. What singing skills are taught?
  • Singing in a clear head voice tone
  • Singing with others; blending in
  • Singing alone
  • Singing with confidence and clarity
  1. How are these skills taught?
  • Through “echo” play
  • Through liturgies and liturgical songs
  • In conjunction with dancing and playing instruments


  1. Almost every lesson contains a movement element.
  2. Some movement is free and creative; some is structured
  3. Beginning folk dance steps and skills introduced in first grade and developed further in second and third
  4. Many children are kinetic learners

Improvisational/Compositional Skills

  1. What does it mean to improvise/compose?
  • To improvise is to create one’s music, on the spot, with no preparation
  • To compose is to create one’s written music, using standard or non-standard musical notation
  1. How are these skills taught?
  • In the classroom using Orff instruments and playing echo games
  • Notes used are limited, creating a no-lose situation

Music History/Appreciation

The Curriculum

  • Study of the Elements of Music: rhythm, harmony, dynamics, tempo, form, etc.
  • Listen, move to, and discuss music by various composers, different styles of music, and multi-cultural music.
  • Study of all the instruments in the orchestra
  • Emphasis on appreciation and understanding, not rote memorization of facts

Performance Opportunities

  1. In the classroom
  2. During liturgies
  3. During the first and second grade concert and the third grade play
  4. During other events which occur throughout the year

Enjoyment of Music

  1. Every child is musical
  2. Music is fun
  3. The music classroom is a SAFE place where everyone is free to try new things without fear of shame or ridicule
  4. Music is something everyone can enjoy and appreciate for the rest of his or her life