In Case Middle School, students have a lot of choice when it comes to music. Near the end of fifth grade, students select either band, orchestra, choir or music explorations; then in sixth grade, they continue their musical journey with rich and diverse opportunities for musical growth.
In one of three sixth grade music explorations courses, students are learning music fundamentals, creative music-making and collaboration by playing keyboards. They also are introduced to musical form, instrumentation and the compositional process. Students have the flexibility to perform at their own level and expand their knowledge and repertoire.
As part of a recent lesson, students learned the primary chords in the keys of C, F and G, then added the chords to play a simple melody. “Students were really excited to coordinate both hands together and to play both melody and harmony. Yes, they were actually playing a song!” said Case Middle School music faculty Marlene Patton. “Feeling good about being able to coordinate two different things at once, many of them realized that they can ‘make’ music even with little background or experience.” Patton said her favorite part of teaching music is watching students grow through “their efforts, joys, challenges, successes and ultimate discovery of their own musical abilities and creative potential.”
In Director of Bands Grant King’s band class, sixth graders are learning how to play brass instruments for the first time. In this beginning class, students are assigned instruments and play together as a group. They also receive individual instruction to ensure they are getting the best sound. “The first moments when they hear everyone playing the same tone all together is a special one and really cements a love for ensemble playing in them,” King said.
King said the best part of teaching is hearing the growth of the ensemble throughout the school year. “I always encourage students to think back to how we felt and sounded on day one and appreciate the journey,” he said. “Learning to properly play an instrument is a process and we can get caught up in the day-to-day challenges. I love looking at the big picture and appreciating growth over time and helping our wonderful students grow through music.”