In a Catholic school, music instruction goes beyond developing musical skills. The music classroom is a place where we recognize and encourage our God-given gifts in each other. We learn about the importance of sharing our talents for the good of the church. I see my classroom as a spiritual and joyful place where, in addition to developing our musical skills, we prepare our minds and voices for beautiful singing at our school liturgies.
The goals of the music program are twofold. First, I am forming student musicians for the church. It is very important that the students learn the importance of answering God’s call to service by giving their time and talents as cantors and choir members. Our students are tomorrow’s church leaders. In the OMC music program, students are developing their spiritual and musical gifts in order to support the Church’s mission in preparing students to proclaim the Gospel.
The second goal is to teach the elements of music through active music-making and theory instruction as prescribed by the music guidelines of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Students will learn the elements of music (melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre, tone color, and form) through singing, listening, chanting, movement, reading and writing musical notation, describing, analyzing, discussing, creating, composing, arranging, improvising, playing classroom instruments and performing in musical ensembles.
Music is an art form. It allows the individual to understand and appreciate the world from a sensitive and emotional perspective. Music-making involves the mind, body and spirit. The musical program at OMC develops the whole child. In addition, students acquire much self confidence when they experience their musical abilities and potential.
In Pre-K, the curriculum is based on proven research related to the development of singing and movement skills in young children, as well as a great deal of practical experience. Music lessons are designed to make children musical in three ways:
- Tuneful – Children who are “tuneful” will become tuneful adults who can sing lullabies to their babies, sing in worship services and other ceremonial events, and can share the joy of singing with others.
- Beatful – Children who are beatful will become beatful adults who can experience the pulse of music, can rock while they sing lullabies, and can perceive and appreciate the ways that beats and rhythm are organized, for example, in concert settings.
- Artful – Children who are “artful” become artful adults who are moved by music and seek out venues to share artful experiences with others in concert halls, community bands and choirs, or by listening to National Public Radio.
In Kindergarten, we continue with the “tuneful, beatful and artful” model as we begin to learn about the elements of music. We begin by developing our skills in group instruction. Through singing, movement, and playing instruments, we develop these skills. We learn to perceive the beat and to respond to various tempos and meters with our bodies and with instruments. We perform speech chants and rhythms on our bodies. We explore pitch and learn about high and low in speech, song, and on instruments. We learn to imitate a vocal model, using light, “head” tones and good singing techniques. We also learn to accompany others by playing steady patterns on classroom xylophones.
In First Grade, we learn the basic concepts of beat and tempo, then rhythmic duration. Students learn much of these concepts through movement because this is how first graders learn. We work on the development of accurate singing skills and expressive singing. Children are guided to use their own imaginative ideas in creating and improvising music. First graders also begin learning the language of music: high and low, loud and soft, fast and slow, short and long. Children learn rhythm syllables, identify rhythm patterns, perform musical patterns and ostinatos, and learn how to be expressive using dynamics.
In Second Grade, students learn new rhythm durations, such as half note and whole note. Students learn about metric accents and placement of bar lines. They learn to conduct, perform, read and write in 2/4 and 4/4 time siguatures. Students learn to improvise and compose using known durations. Students learn to sing accurately in unison. They make their first attempts at singing melodic ostinatos and two-part canons. They learn to compare timbres and registers of classroom xylophones using various accompaniment patterns. Students learn to analyze the form of music, such as AB and ABA form. We explore pitch by identifying melodic syllables and patterns of pitches. Students learn to identify the tonal center of a piece. I also introduce musical folk games and dances in second grade as an opportunity for students to experience the joy of singing and dancing as a community of friends.
In Third Grade, we learn triple meter. We compare duple and triple meter through movement, song, speech, and instrumental activities. We learn new rhythm durations. Students learn to sing more accurately and in tune. They have an expanded range and stronger voices at this age and they are enthusiastic to learn melodic ostinatos and canon singing. Children learn to sing two- and three-part canons. This enables students to understand musical texture and harmony. Students learn to play harmonic accompaniments on classroom xylophones. Students learn to improvise rhythmic themes and pentatonic melodies. Students in third grade also learn to listen for what is accurate and beautiful in their vocal performance so that they become able to set their own standards for a musical performance. Students learn letter and syllable names of pitches. In third grade, students continue to learn musical folk games and dances.
In Fourth Grade, students are challenged to learn shorter durations and more complex rhythm patterns in their music. Their rhythm studies include sixteenth notes and many combinations of patterns that add to their rhythmic vocabulary. They learn basic chordal harmony and be able to demonstrate their understanding of chord roots and tonal center through singing and playing pitched instruments. Students continue to perform canons in two to four parts. They learn to sing descants to harmonize a melody. Students develop their awareness and sensitivity to musical dynamics in their performances, vocally and instrumentally. Students perform in classroom ensembles on xylophones and percussion instruments.
In Fifth and Sixth Grade, students sing accurately and with good breath control and expression, Students improvise melodic embellishments and rhythmic and melodic variations. Students read and perform music in various time signatures. Students identify and define standard notation symbols. Students describe specific music events in a given aural example, using appropriate terminology. Students analyze the elements of music in aural examples representing diverse genres and cultures. Students develop their skills in harmony recognition and performance.
Students in Seventh and Eighth Grade develop their note reading skills by studying theory and writing musical notation. Students read musical notation while playing tone chimes. Students study various careers in music and complete several research projects. Students study the roots of American music and analyze many musical examples. Students study the periods of classical music and analyze many musical examples. Students study the music of many cultures and perform in classroom music ensembles. Students develop skills in playing the guitar.
- Bachelors Degree in Music Education, Temple University
- Masters Degree in Music, Temple University
- 20 years of experience in teaching music
- Music teacher for the School District of Philadelphia – 8 years
- Music teacher at St. Bridget’s Parish School (2001-2012)
- Over 30 years of experience in liturgical and professional music performance (organ, piano, harp)