Music – Middle School (grades 5-8)

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5th and 6th grade is about exposure and variety, with students taking two kinds of music class concurrently: Band and Keyboard/chorus. In band, every student learns the unique skill of playing an instrument. Woodwind, brass and percussion instruments are offered, as well as guitar and piano. In keyboard/chorus, students learn about various composers and begin to compose music, with or without lyrics. They review rhythm patterns and incorporate basic rhythm instruments with music. Students learn the basics of playing keyboard to assist with practicing scales. Singing is, of course, vital. Students work on ear training and voice techniques, concentrating on good posture and tone quality, singing in unison, and two- or three-part harmonies, as a solo or in a small ensemble. They experiment with music and movement. Students continue their study of basic music theory, reviewing music symbols, learning scales on paper as well as on the piano, key signatures, the circle of fifths, and major, minor, augmented and diminished chords. They extend their knowledge of basic chords to include harmony, triads and 7th chords (blues). They review rhythm patterns and are introduced to the role of the conductor in maintaining the correct time of a piece of music. Students learn 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8 time signatures. The music program in 7th and 8th grades builds on earlier experience, and allows students to choose between Advanced Band, where they build on earlier band experience and expand their repertoire to include things like jazz combo, blues and rock, or Integrated Performing Arts, which involves singing, dancing, acting and musical theater. 7/8 students can also choose from various elective workshops called Creative Expression Labs (CELS). More advanced elements of musical theory are woven into each elective. CELS provide students with ways to stretch their growing capabilities, to experiment and to grow into new possibilities. There are elements of risk, challenge and fun! Music CEL examples include Rhythm and Blues, School of Rock, Middle-eastern Music Ensemble, and Beat Box and Hip Hop.
In Middle School, students move from the music theory foundation of the younger grades into a more expressive and personal relationship to music.

Middle School students are introduced to traditional music history and musical form and composition, including relevant software for composing, sharing and publishing music on computers.

We continue to work on ear training, helping students to recognize and categorize instruments visually and aurally.
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