Music & Drama
The methodology that structures BFSMS’s music curriculum is based on the Kodály Method, inspired by the Hungarian composer Zolton Kodály.
It is a sequential, literacy-driven curriculum using folk song material and age appropriate art music examples. Movement and instrument play are incorporated as it becomes developmentally appropriate to do so beginning with simple circle games and classroom percussion instruments leading up to more difficult movement activities and the use of barred instruments and/or recorders. Curriculum is focused on literacy and listening skills. As time allows, students spend class time listening to and learning about both traditional and non-traditional music performance practices.
Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten
Students spend time experiencing music and aurally developing a melodic/rhythmic vocabulary. Through singing and playing, students experience steady beat, rhythm and the various dichotomies of sound; high-low, fast-slow, soft-loud. By the end of Kindergarten, they begin to give names to these elements. Students start to identify patterns of sounds with proper terminology eventually “writing” their own patterns using known rhythmic/melodic motives.
First Grade and Second Grade
As students progress, these musical examples become longer and start to expand in a variety of melodic and rhythmic possibilities. By the end of first grade, most students can find and demonstrate the beat. They can recognize and dictate rhythms that contain one, two, or no sounds on a beat; quarter note, paired eighth notes, rest. Students also begin to identify melodic patterns that contain two or more pitch differences and use iconic pitch references to map the rise and fall in pitch.
By the end of second grade, students have developed a musical vocabulary and a bank of music rhythmic and melody terminology. Both allow them to identify and begin reading and writing musical patterns using the pentatonic scale, simple meter rhythmic motives containing beat divisions; beamed eighths, sixteenths as well as rhythmic values that combine beats; half note, whole note, etc. Students also begin to organize these patterns according to meter and “Do” placement.
Third Grade and Fourth Grade
By the end of third grade, students will begin to experience/recognize more sophisticated examples of rhythm and meter that extend beyond simple/duple time signatures. Typically, third grade is when they begin playing recorders in class and reading absolute pitch from the treble clef. It is also when students have had the opportunity to study more in-depth classical musical examples that culminate in a visit to the Tobin Center at the end of the year. This program developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weil Music Institute is a wonderful addition to San Antonio’s symphony educational program. Following this program over the past several years has given both our third and fourth grade students the motivation to individually improve upon their performance and musical understanding according to their own level of skill and interest.
Our elementary-age music program concludes with fourth grade. Students spend much of their fourth grade year using what they know about the structure of music to create. They continue to build on their experiences of melody, rhythm, meter and form with more emphasis put on how these elements are combined. Students are given more flexibility in choosing composition/performance activities according to their interests and skill level. By the end of the year, fourth graders have a solid foundation in music composition, music history and performance practice should they choose to continue their study into middle school.
Middle school students have the opportunity to continue their study of music as a chosen elective. They continue to build upon their skill and knowledge of music literacy and performance practice, using online resources such as Ultimate Guitar, Chrome Music Lab, Musicca, among various other tools and resources. Students experiment with instrumentation and composition while dedicating additional time learning the basics of a keyboard and/or ukulele. Those with more instrument experience are encouraged to improve upon their performance skills, often being invited to take a lead role in school-wide programs.