Before having the opportunity to join the band, chorus or orchestra in fourth-grade, students in the Amityville Union Free School District are introduced to different musical concepts during their early elementary years.
March is annually designated as Music in Our Schools Month by the National Association for Music Educators. Amityville has a robust, year-round music program with numerous instrumental and vocal groups at the secondary level and a consistent selection of students to highly selective regional ensembles. It begins with a strong, progressive elementary program.
At Northeast Elementary School, kindergartners learn fast and slow, loud and soft, and high and low pitch. They listen to many songs to find the steady beat and use percussion instruments to play along. Students also learn music for winter and spring concerts and for different celebrations throughout the year including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month.
“I want them to leave here loving music,” said teacher Nicole Altamura, who engages students through “happy and upbeat” lessons that involve a lot of movement.
As students enter first grade at Northwest Elementary School, they continue their study of beat, speed and tempo, and learn about quarter notes, eighth notes and rests. Teacher Roxanne Tannenbaum uses the song “Carnival of the Animals” to reinforce these concepts.
In second grade, they learn about the different instruments that comprise an orchestra. She plays them “Peter and the Wolf” to help with their instrument recognition. Third-graders learn to read music and are introduced to more intricate rhythmic patterns. Additionally, they play the recorder for the first time.
There are grade-level music performances each winter and spring. Ms. Tannenbaum said the shows feature either a collection of songs or a short musical production. Past shows have included “Aladdin” and “Seussical,” and the second grade is preparing “Annie” as its upcoming performance.
Ms. Tannenbaum said she wants to expose children to a wide array of music by the end of third grade so that each student can make his or her best decision on how to pursue music in the future.
“I want them to enrich their lives through music and broaden their options,” she said. “Music brings a lot of happiness and joy.”
Photos courtesy of the Amityville Union Free School District