Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that have music notes on them and say “If you can read this, thank a music teacher?” Could you actually read or identify any part of the music? One of the goals of the music program at Midtown is to make sure that even our youngest students are aware of the details involved in creating and appreciating music. To serve as a socially responsible citizen we ask that students communicate effectively in a second language and develop an appreciation of other cultures. While many jump to a foreign language such as Spanish, we don’t want to forget that music is also a language that appears in all cultures. Learning to read rhythms and pitches takes time and practice, and then even more engagement to put those two together and use them to create sound from an instrument.
Starting in kindergarten, students are given opportunities to play instruments starting with free play during parts of a song and then learning to take turns with the different sounds. Eventually students work their way from free play to actually reading rhythms and pitches. First graders use a class set of boom-whackers to put together songs and read rhythms with color coordinated pitches. Moving from building songs as a class, second graders start to be more independent and play simple written keyboard melodies on their own. Third graders learns how to combine these reading and performing skills by playing recorders with and without musical accompaniment. During each year of music education, students learn how to take their knowledge and communicate this through different instruments and performances. One of the highlights of middle school is the percussion symphony class which requires students to combine the knowledge of how a symphony is divided and create groups so they can make their own symphony. The final symphony consists of multiple movements created by organized sounds, written and performed by the students. This project showcases how the combination of all of the Schoolwide Learning Outcomes really work together to have students work collaboratively to solve problems and use a variety of multi-step processes to create a final product (Demonstrate Knowledge Innovatively) while articulating knowledge and ideas with a range of tools (Communicate Effectively). This further develops an awareness and appreciation for the arts (Serve as a Socially Responsible Citizen) and asks them to accept accountability for the results and take pride in their accomplishments (Navigate through Experiences as a Life Long Learner). Not only can a Merryhill student read the music on the bumper sticker, they can compose their own.