Throughout this school year, our students are creating connections and experiencing joy while becoming better musicians. In music class, students are artful, beatful, and tuneful while creating, exploring, and expressing themselves through music. At the beginning of the school year, each student was given their own personal music kit. Students are using the kits to play rhythms and dynamics through bucket drumming; moving to different pieces of music and expressing themselves with scarves; and performing with egg shakers. Students are participating in one live lesson and one asynchronous music lesson per week. The asynchronous music lesson helps support the live lesson through video instruction and SeeSaw activities. Students are receiving individual feedback on their musicianship; experiencing many different musical genres; and creating their own music through the live and asynchronous music lessons.
Although our classroom may look different this year, we are focusing on bringing SEL (Social Emotional Learning) into music class. Students are participating and collaborating with different music activities which help create a sense of community and fun! After spring break, students will have an opportunity to show off their musicianship in the “Bucket Drumming Judo” program. The judo program includes bucket drumming pieces of various difficulty or “belt” levels.
Fourth- and fifth-grade orchestra students continue to attend both virtual and in-person small group lessons and are learning new techniques and progressing steadily on their instruments. Though this year has added some extra challenges, orchestra students have gone above and beyond. For example, students learned how to tune their own instruments, something they normally learn in junior high! Though we have had a strong focus on individual technique this year, students have enjoyed learning new full orchestral pieces with the help of our software, SmartMusic. We use the SmartMusic software to hear all the other parts of the orchestra as they practice their own part. IGSMA (Illinois Grade School Music Association) sponsored a Solo and Ensemble virtual performance opportunity in the winter, and some of our orchestra students are gearing up for a second Solo and Ensemble this spring! We also have another practice challenge opportunity on the horizon. All orchestra students will have the chance to win a gift card by practicing and reaching specific musical goals. Students are very eager to get together as a full orchestra and play fun pieces together as one group. Though it’s not possible now, when it finally does happen, they are going to sound AMAZING since they have all improved so much individually! We cannot wait!
In fifth-grade band, many students have exceeded expectations this year, despite the challenges of learning a new instrument in a virtual setting! Students attend weekly lessons through Zoom, complete asynchronous assignments that often include videos of techniques on their instrument, and submit performance videos on Seesaw for feedback. They also utilize the software MusicFirst to practice and play along with recordings of other instruments. Similar to the Orchestra’s use of SmartMusic, this replicates the sound of playing with a full ensemble. We also use MusicFirst to integrate ear training and music theory into our curriculum. 5th grade band students will have the opportunity to share performances on their instrument with each other over Spring Break! As part of their optional Spring Break Challenge, they can record a video on Band Flipgrid to share with other students in band. Since we are unable to hold formal concerts this year, this is a fantastic way for students to have a performance experience. We encourage students to continue with band next year at DW where they will hopefully be able to play together as a full ensemble.