Despite the move to remote instruction, music continues to thrive at Stevenson—particularly in the lower division. This is especially thanks to the lower division music teacher, Wendi Kirby, who has adapted the curriculum so that it works with the Zoom learning setup and remains fun and engaging for all students involved.
Wendi explains, “Before COVID, music for pre-k to grade 4 would include singing together, ensemble playing and social interaction through movement and play. As we have moved to a completely remote learning model, I have recreated a curriculum that is not only robust and diverse, but fun and engaging. My goal for every student is to create lifelong lovers of music that can enjoy music with depth and vigor.”
For pre-k through grade 2 students in remote classrooms, music class includes singing through call-and-response games that incorporate scarves, sticks, shakers, and homemade instruments, as well as movement. Students also learn musical concepts by studying opposites (e.g. piano and forte, staccato and legato, fast and slow, high and low) and explore basic music history via fun activities related to great classical works like Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
A new element of the curriculum for pre-k to grade 2 students is doing listening activities related to their everyday life: students are called to notice and work with the sounds in their home and learning environment. All of the lessons learned by pre-k to grade 2 music students are reinforced by daily Seesaw activities that allow students to review what they’ve learned and share their voice with their classmates.
For grade 3 and grade 4 Pirates, music learning is more advanced. grade 3 students learn to play recorder, which is their first introduction to wind instruments. They partake in daily practice and play together in Zoom breakout rooms. Students are invited to perform “spotlight performances” if they want to play in front of their classmates. grade 4 students learn to play the ukulele, which is their first introduction to string instruments. They also practice and play together each day in breakout rooms, and they’re invited to perform in front of the larger class.
Ms. Kirby says that In addition to teaching students how to play instruments, she aims to foster a greater appreciation of music history and culture with grades 3 and 4 students. She explains, “Singing, rhythm, note reading, music history, musical genre, musical terms and definitions are taught through daily Seesaw Activities, Kahoot, Pear Deck, and Music Ace. Students get a Daily Dose of Musical Inspiration from watching inspiring musicians perform on places like NPR’s Tiny Desk and From the Top. We study musical genres and then create our own “Story of My Life” through music, and we study more contemporary, 20th Century composers and musicians, including Joplin, Gershwin, Copeland and the Beatles.”
Ms. Kirby has also added a gamified element to grades 3 and 4 music classes to keep students engaged, and they play fun games like “Do you want to be a Virtuoso?,” where students are divided into teams and challenged to answer questions related to the material learned during the week, which are scored through a tic-tac-toe game board.
Ultimately, with the revamped curriculum, Ms. Kirby hopes to inspire a lifelong love of music in her students, and prepare them for continued study, explaining, “By the time students complete fourth grade, they should have the tools to join the school orchestra, choir, music classes or engage in private lessons in a successful way.”