There are over 15 elementary music teachers in the North Allegheny School District teaching students in grades K-5. Students will learn many skills in the elementary school music program. These skills include how to perform, listen, describe, sing, create, read and write music.
In grades 3-5, students can choose to play an instrument. The String Program starts in 3rd grade, and the Band Program starts in 4th grade. Students can participate in these programs through 12th grade.
In grade 4, students can choose to sing in chorus. Students can participate in this program through 12th grade.
The beginning band program in the North Allegheny School District is designed for 1st and 2nd year players, in grades 4 and 5. Students may try band instruments at the end of 3rd or 4th grade, to choose an instrument to study in the following school year. Instruction is offered on flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, baritone and percussion. Parents may rent or purchase an instrument for their child.
There are two components in beginning band instruction; students meet in a small group 30-minute lesson each week, and a 45-minute large full-band rehearsal each week. Throughout lessons and band rehearsals, students are expected to perform with a sense of tone, breath support, intonation, rhythm, harmony and articulation.
The bands perform two in-school assemblies and two evening concerts per school year.
In 4th and 5th Grade Chorus, the student will learn basic singing techniques to best develop the physical body as a singing instrument. During the two-year elementary chorus experience, the student will focus on five main units. The first unit is Respiration: learning to coordinate breathing to support the voice for speaking and singing production. The second unit is Phonation: developing agility in the various vocal registers. The third unit is Resonant Tone Production: producing uniform vowel colors when singing. Diction is the fourth unit: including word pronunciation, consonant articulation, and vocal tract freedom (i.e. correct positioning of the parts of the mouth and throat). The final unit is Expression: covering phrasing, meaning and mood of a song and learning to execute tempo and dynamic variations. These units are incorporated simultaneously over the two-year elementary choral experience.
The Elementary General Music Curriculum is a creative and active learning experience in which all K-5 elementary students participate. To reach the whole musical learner, while also meeting the Pennsylvania Art Standards and the National Music Standards, the elementary general music classes will incorporate a wide variety of teaching techniques and approaches drawn from several schools of musical thought and research. The Elementary General Music Curriculum centers around an active understanding and use at different levels of Rhythm, Melody, Harmony, Form, Timbre, and Creativity. The main musical schools of thought include the following:
The Orff approach is a way of introducing and teaching children music on a level that they can easily comprehend. Musical concepts are learned through singing, chanting, dance, movement, drama and the playing of percussion instruments. Recorders are played in grades 3, 4 and 5. Improvisation, composition and a child's natural sense of play are encouraged.
The Gordon Music Learning Theory uses three basic learning sequences: skill learning, tonal content and rhythm content. As a method of instruction, the learning sequences are combined in various classroom activities. A skill level is achieved in combination with a tonal or rhythm content level.
Dalcroze Eurhythmics utilizes physical movement and musical rhythms to affect the student's performance and retention of musical basics. Through participation in simple games, exercises and improvisations, the students learn to combine music and movement in order to develop rhythmic unity between the eye, ear, mind and body.
The Kodaly Method uses a child-developmental approach to sequence the introduction of skills strongly focused on ear training and sight singing. Children are first introduced to musical concepts through experiences in listening, singing and movement. After the child becomes familiar with a concept, he or she then learns how to notate it. Concepts are constantly reviewed and reinforced through games, movement, songs and exercises.
The above four schools of musical thought join beautifully in a unique eclectic blend of musical methods. The book series Game Plan by Jeff Kriske and Randy Delelles creatively ties these concepts together in a grade by grade level plan for a school year. This curriculum will provide instructional consistency across our seven elementary schools while fostering individual creativity among our music educators.
In the general music class, the students will be exposed to musical literature, historical context, cultural diversity and exercises in creativity. By using this eclectic approach, the Elementary General Music Curriculum will be an ever-widening spiral based on the Pillars of the North Allegheny Music Curriculum.
The above four schools of musical thought and methods join beautifully in a unique four way collaboration of musical methods. To keep all nine elementary general music teachers on the same “page” without limiting their individual creativity and teaching style, the book series Game Plan by Jeff Kriske and Randy Delelles creatively ties these schools of thought together in a grade by grade level plan for a school year.
In the general music class the students will also be exposed to musical literature of all times and from cultures around the world. Using these four schools of musical strategies, the Elementary General Music Curriculum will be an ever-widening spiral K–5, up the Music Pillars on which the Music Curriculum is based.
Students at North Allegheny can start playing a musical instrument in the elementary schools. The students play their instruments twice a week: once in a small group lesson consisting of approximately 5 students, and once in a large group ensemble. The large group ensemble combines all students at the same level. Students can join the instrumental program at any time in the elementary school. Students should contact the instrumental instructor at their school for more information.
The string program starts in 3rd grade and continues through 12th grade. Students who wish to play a string instrument can try out in 2nd grade in preparation for the following year.
There are over 1,700 students playing a string instrument in the District. We have nine string specialists that service the students in grades 3-12. There are 7 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, intermediate school and high school.
The students in the elementary meet twice a week; once for a half hour small group lesson consisting of 4-6 students and once for a forty five minute rehearsal in a large ensemble. Middle school meets as a class every other day and High School meets every day as a class.
Please take a moment to check out the concert dates, times and places. If you are interested in playing a string instrument please contact the music teacher at your school.