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Music in First Grade

September 21, 2022 | Emily Ford Sytsma

Mustard Seed School has an arts-centered curriculum where music is a daily activity.  The program is based on the Kodály philosophy and focuses on the goals of musical literacy, as well as singing a wide variety of music that is authentic in nature.  

What happens in music classes?

Students will develop musical concepts and skills by:  

Doing:  Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts

Knowing:  Knowing and Using Arts Resources and Materials.

Listening:  Responding to and Analyzing works of art. 

Understanding:  Understanding the Cultural dimensions and contributions of the arts. 

In other words, every game, song, dance we do in music will lead students to become a true musician who can read, write, and enjoy music in every way!

What’s going on in first grade music?

In first grade the students receive two formal music classes (30 minutes each) every week.  Through singing, playing, listening to, reading and writing folk songs, singing games and other materials students will develop:

  • Beat and Rhythm
  • Quarter Note (ta)
  • Quarter Rest
  • Eighth Notes (titi)
  • So, mi and la
  • Review on elements of music (Dynamics, tempo and pitch)
  • Tuneful singing
  • Inner hearing
  • Creative movements
  • Folk and choreographed dance
  • Improvisation
  • Introduction to instruments (Boomwhackers, Hand Bells, Tubanos, Glockenspiels)
  • Part work
  • Musical literacy (stick notation)

This post is written by Lower School Music Teacher, Aiko Mauldin

Emily Ford Sytsma

Early Childhood Director

Ms. Sytsma began her career as an educator working in inclusive classrooms in the state of Hawaii but found her roots began to grow here at Mustard Seed School when she came to teach in 1996. She joined the preschool team in 2007, after teaching for many years in the Middle School. She finds delight in the preschool’s approach to teaching and learning, inspired by the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Early Childhood Director, she seeks to support teachers in their work helping children learn about thinking and creative expression.

Ms. Sytsma’s the mother of a MSS alum and a current student. When not at school, Ms. Sytsma enjoys traveling with her husband and two children. She tends a very simple rooftop garden in Jersey City Heights and on long Saturday mornings, she may be seen taking long walks along the Hudson River and listening to audiobooks or podcasts while organizing her thoughts and getting her heart rate up.

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