Music classes at the New Holland Elementary School involve active learning and music making through a variety of activities. As the students are introduced to a new rhythm or pitch pattern, they sing songs, play games, practice rhythm and tonal patterns, learn folk dances, and listen and move to recorded music that reinforces the concept. When they are ready, they gain experience in reading and writing the rhythm or pitch pattern. Classroom percussion instruments are periodically used to practice rhythm skills and accompany singing. Students learn a wide assortment of folk songs from the United States and various other cultures each marking period; songs are chosen to focus on specific musicianship and eventual literacy goals. The overall goal of general music classes at New Holland Elementary is to:
- Develop students’ ability to audiate or to think musically, with the eventual objective of independent musicianship and music literacy at a developmentally appropriate level.
- Instill a love of making music and moving to music through fun, interactive, age-appropriate activities.
- Develop an appreciation for and understanding of the music of many time periods and cultures.
- Develop cooperation skills, self-confidence, and motivation for achievement through individual and group music-making activities.
Mr. Molls’ teaching philosophy and the New Holland School music curriculum are based on several well-known teaching approaches. The primary philosophy is the Kodaly method of music education, a system of teaching music that first evolved in Hungarian schools under the guidance of composer Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967). This approach is in wide use today in schools throughout the United States and around the world. The basic concepts of this philosophy includes:
- Music is for EVERYONE and is necessary for healthy human development. Every person has the potential to make music.
- It is important to start music education as early as possible. Aural / musical development is similar to language development, and the earlier children are exposed to music, the more success they will have.
- Folk songs are the primary source material for beginning music education.
- The voice is the main instrument, with singing as the basic musical activity.
- The eventual goal is to make every child musically literate. After gaining basic musical skills, including the abilities to match pitch, move to the beat, and respond expressively to music, each student will learn to read, write, compose, and improvise music at his/her own developmentally appropriate level.
- eye”: A sense of inner hearing should be developed through singing, dancing, echoing musical patterns by rote, and playing musical games before any work with notation commences.
- Rhythm syllables (ta, ti-ti etc.) and Curwen hand signals and pitch names (do, re, mi, etc.) are used to establish tonal and rhythmic relationships. These tools accommodate a variety of learning styles including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile.
Kodaly Learning Theory also incorporates the following important musical concepts. Although these concepts may seem very advanced, they are introduced to students in a very specific, step sequence beginning in Kindergarten which is appropriate for the students’ age and developmental stage of learning.
- The development of audiation, the ability to think musically with full comprehension of musical sounds.
- The ability to feel macrobeat (the “big beat” underlying a piece of music) and microbeat (the “little beats” into which each macrobeat is divided). Students will learn to recognize the difference between duple meter, in which macrobeats are divided into 2 microbeats, and triple meter, in which macrobeats are divided into 3 microbeats. They will gain a more complete sense of feeling and eventually being able to read and write rhythm when they are able to feel these divisions of the beat.
- The ability to recognize tonality (whether a piece of music is in a major or minor key) and the function of pitches (high or low sounds) within each tonality. Students will learn to hear and sing the resting tone of a song (the pitch a song is centered around), and will learn to hear and sing different combinations of pitches in tonic and dominant chords in major and minor tonalities. Eventually they will learn to read and write pitch notation on the musical staff.
- Coordination of activities to each student’s musical aptitude as determined by a standardized aptitude test. All students learn the same musical concepts, but each child is given specific patterns in which the difficulty level is coordinated with his or
her rhythmic or tonal aptitude, so that instruction is differentiated to meet the needs of each child.
- Experiences with discrimination learning, where the child is guided towards success in learning musical concepts with the teacher’s assistance, and inference learning, where the child applies information learned to make his/her own connections and create his/her own music.
Music classes also include units throughout the year on the music of various time periods, cultures, and composers. Music class activities are selected to meet the Pennsylvania Core Curriculum Content Standards for the Performing Arts and the National Standards for Music Education.