Preschool and Pre-Kindergarten musicians are always excited for Music class! The Preschool and Prekindergarten Music curriculum draws on our students’ natural enthusiasm to facilitate their growth both inside and outside the classroom. Students develop their participation skills by joining in a wide range of class activities, which include singing, dancing, and playing hand-held rhythm instruments. Preschoolers and pre-kindergartners develop their listening skills by learning participatory songs and develop their decoding skills using pictographs as reading tools. Movement and play-along songs foster our musicians’ gross and fine motor skills.

Ask anyone–our Kindergarten musicians are on beat. Kindergarten students continue to develop their participation and listening skills while learning music concepts like tempo, pitch, and dynamics. Kindergarteners participate in complex play-along songs and join in with rhythmic and freestyle movement. And Kindergarten students begin to learn about notated music in preparation for their upcoming studies in recorder, African drumming, and beyond.

In First Grade Music class, students are breaking it down. Filled with curiosity about how things work, first graders are in the perfect position to learn about the how of musical theory and practice. Students break down folk and popular songs into their component parts of verse, chorus, and bridge; they break down dancing into the directions of left and right while using increasingly complex steps; and, most “note”ably, students begin to learn musical notation. Using visual representations of rhythms, students develop their ability to recognize musical patterns and, in the process, build the foundation for the rest of their musical education.

Second Grade Music class marks an important milestone for Friends School Haverford students: it’s the year that students begin playing the recorder. With help from Recorder from the Beginning, by John Pitts, students learn all about the component parts of recorder playing, from reading basic notation and learning finger placement, to playing in time and on rhythm. Second grade musicians also begin to develop their pitch discrimination and confidence by singing with the piano, matching pitch, and singing popular songs in rounds and pentachords. Come Visit during the Spring Festival of the Arts, and watch our young musicians sing and play their new instruments with gusto!

Whether they’re singing, playing the recorder, or dancing, our Third Grade musicians are learning increasingly challenging concepts and routines.  Third grade students learn about creating and maintaining pitch accuracy and vocal harmony in the songs they learn, which span from 50s-era popular favorites to modern day African folk. Students progress rapidly in their recorder playing as they learn new notes, additional elements of rhythm and notation, and more challenging songs. And if you visit during a Music class devoted to dance, you might find third graders figuring out the steps to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or choreographing a piece of their own design.

The students in Fourth Grade Music class perfect the techniques they have learned over the course of the Lower School Music curriculum. During their singing classes, students continue to develop their pitch, vocalization, and accompanying choreography. In recorder practice, they practice songs that include the entire range of recorder notes–sharps, flats, and all. Fourth Grade Music classes stress the importance of working together: many new songs require students to harmonize or sing in rounds, and many new recorder pieces incorporate polyphony into their structures. At the end of the year, fourth grade musicians preview the next big segment of their musical journey at FSH, group African drumming, which will even further strengthen their cooperation and teamwork.

Bass tone, open tone, muffled pop! These three notes form the cornerstone of traditional multi-part African drumming, which Fifth Grade students spend the year learning and performing. As they learn the basics of African drumming, students grow in their rhythmic independence and ability to learn and play as a group. Students also develop skills in group singing by practicing song arrangements that feature lead and backing vocals and vocal harmony. The curriculum continues to support fifth graders’ vocal work in pitch, dynamics, and scales, in addition to their dancing and choreography.

It’s Marimba time in Sixth Grade Music class! Our sixth grade musicians begin the year by learning all about this traditional Zimbabwean instrument, from caring for its polished wooden slats and mallets to its historical and cultural significance. Building on their African drumming skills from the previous year, sixth graders develop their rhythmic competence and play complex Marimba pieces as an ensemble. The sixth grade Music class also continues to stress singing and choreographic accompaniment.

In Seventh and Eighth Grade Music classes, students have the ability to choose exactly what they want to study. Music elective classes give our seventh and eighth graders the time and focus to pursue their personal musical interests. Students who choose the Audio Composition concentration head down to FSH’s multi-track recording studio, where they explore the engineering and compositional aspects of the recording process. Others may prefer to learn more about African hand drumming or traditional African dancing, and choose one or the other of those electives. And yet other seventh and eighth grade musicians want to hone their rhythmic competence, improvisation skills, and understanding of form by playing in Kwaya Marimba.  Kwaya Marimba performs compositions inspired by the Shona music of Zimbabwe, which consists of interlocking rhythmic patterns that function like a choir’s soprano, alto, tenor, and bass sections.