Music is an important element of the Alice Birney curriculum. Because every child has the innate capacity to sing and to make music, this is developed as much as it can be by the classroom teacher in the younger grades and at least two additional periods a week with a strings music teacher beginning in grade 4 and continuing through grade 8.
According to Rudolf Steiner, the human being is a musical being, and the making of music is essential in experiencing what it is to be fully human. Music in the curriculum awakens and nurtures the deep inner life of the child. Engaging the soul activities of thinking, feeling, and willing in the child, the study and experience of the various elements in music arouse and cultivate the very forces necessary to be able to meet the challenges of the world with enthusiasm and confidence.
Beginning in grade 4, children start to play a stringed instrument with a credentialed teacher at least twice a week. Music notation blends with the main lesson block on fractions nicely complementing the learning of the time signatures. Various meters are experienced and studied. Children begin to sight-read simple melodies. As students progress through the upper grades, deeper work with an instrument begins. The music curriculum in the upper grades brings the children ever more sophisticated and challenging musical experiences that are appropriate to their stages of development. Playing an instrument helps develop memory and fine motor skills, builds self-esteem, fosters self-discipline, and calls the children to a greater awareness of others as they work together to create something beautiful for the listener. Performing at a Winter and Spring concert gives the students the opportunity to celebrate their hours of practice with an audience of family and community members.
Students strengthen responsibility by caring for a district instrument. A liability contract must be signed by parents prior to distribution. Parents are liable for any lost or damaged instruments. Students are welcome to bring their personal rented or owned instrument to school. Instruments are only brought to school on the days their strings class is scheduled. The instrument remains at home for practice on all other days.
Students wanting a more advanced Strings experience may join the Advanced Orchestra that will meet Tuesday after school in Room 19 from 2:30-3:15. The Sunrise Orchestra will provide additional opportunities and will meet Monday from 2:30-3:00. We will also encourage participation in the All City Orchestra in the winter. Contact Ms. Elizabeth Hernandez for more details at Elizabeth-Hernandez@scusd.edu.
Small Group Ensembles
Playing in the additional small orchestra ensembles for festivals, ceremonies, or celebrations is a privilege. Appropriate behavior, attendance, and academic standing in all classes, including other specialties, will be considered in determining student participation in ensembles. If a student misses two rehearsals, they will not be allowed to participate in the ensemble performance.