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Music

Students are exposed to music in a variety of ways, including singing, playing musical instruments (woodwind, brass, strings, percussion, recorders, Orff, and other classroom instruments), performing, movement, reading notation, composing, improvising, music appreciation, music technology, and other concepts.

Curriculum by Grade

Kindergarten - Grade 3

The music program in Kindergarten through Grade 3 focuses on building strong skills emphasizing beat, rhythm, and pitch. Through movement activities and instrumental and vocal ensembles the students learn to feel and respond to beat, tempo, and melody. The introduction of the recorder in Second Grade facilitates the reading of standard music notation. The recorder then becomes an integral part of subsequent ensembles. A stringed instrument, the mountain dulcimer, is introduced in Grade 3. After each child constructs their instrument, solfege is used as the means of playing melody and chords. Much of the material used in Grade 3 ties directly to their study of the United States. All students participate in the Holiday Concert in December and each class presents a year-end review program for their own parents at the end of May.

Grade 4

General Music

General music is a required course for all students in Grade 4. Concepts include reading music, singing, playing classroom instruments (recorders, choir chimes, pianos, percussion), music history and appreciation, physics of music, and movement.

An annual field trip to NJPAC brings the students to a well-known and respected world-class performance venue.

Chorus

All students in Grade 4 sing in Chorus. More than a performing ensemble, Chorus is a class that teaches concepts of vocal tone production, diction, breath support, blend, listening, and performance skills. Repertoire includes music in English and other languages. Chorus 4 performs at the Holiday and Spring concerts.

Band

Students may elect to participate in Band in Grade 4. This is the first introduction to woodwind and brass instruments offered to our students.

In the first part of the school year, the band meets in small classes of like instruments. In these classes, which include flute, clarinet, trumpet, and lower brass (trombone and baritone), students receive instruction on the fundamentals of playing their instruments. Concepts include tone production, proper breathing, fingerings, playing techniques, score reading, and instrument maintenance.

In the spring of each year, the smaller classes combine to form a Grade 4 band. This group learns music to be performed at the Spring Concert.

Strings

Students may choose to learn a string instrument (violin, viola, or cello) and enroll in the strings program. Similar to Band, Strings 4 focuses on many of the same concepts required for students to perform.

The strings program differs from band in that it often includes students at continuing levels of proficiency, not just beginners. It is not uncommon for strings instruction to begin at the enrichment class level (or private lessons) as young as Kindergarten. Strings offer this option because, unlike band instruments, string instruments are available in a variety of sizes.

The inclusion of various proficiency levels in the strings program allows them to perform at both Holiday and Spring Concerts each year.

Other Performances

In addition to Band and Strings performing at the Holiday and Spring Concerts, students in Grade 4 are also involved in other performances as opportunities arise. Pianists are invited to perform in the Piano Potpourri, a recital of pianists of all proficiency levels in Grades 4 and 5. Also, talented performers may be invited to perform for guests on Grandparents and Special Friends Day.

Grade 5

General Music

General music is a required course for all students in Grade 5. Concepts include reading music, singing, playing classroom instruments (recorders, choir chimes, pianos, percussion), music history and appreciation, music technology and research, and movement.

A key unit in General Music 5 is the WSHR project. This interdisciplinary unit involves multiple teachers in different disciplines focusing the students on their final project. Students analyze, research, and write about an assigned composition and composer. They then record their writing and splice it onto a recording of their assigned composition. These recordings are played in Corvino Commons each schoolday morning as “WSHR”, Pingry’s own in-house classical music broadcast.

An annual field trip to Lincoln Center in New York brings the students to a well-known and respected world-class performance venue. Students in General Music 5 also conclude the year with a self-guided tour of the Musical Instruments exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, viewing historical musical instruments from all over the world.

Chorus

All students in Grade 5 sing in Chorus. More than a performing ensemble, Chorus is a class that teaches concepts of vocal tone production, diction, breath support, blend, listening, and performance skills. Repertoire includes music in English and other languages. Chorus 5 performs at the Holiday and Spring concerts. Chorus 5 is also a featured performing ensemble at the All-School Festival, an annual holiday celebration held at the Basking Ridge campus involving the entire K-12 community.

Band and Strings

The Band and Strings programs continue in Grade 5. More advanced concepts and skills are developed as the student musicians grow and expand their capabilities. Band and string ensembles are featured performers at our Holiday and Spring Concerts

Handbell Choir

The Handbell Choir consists of 12-13 students in Grade 5 who learn the art of handbell ringing. Their performances at the Holiday and Spring Concerts are a valued part of Pingry’s musical tradition.

Other Performances

In addition to Band, Handbells, and Strings performing at the Holiday and Spring Concerts, students in Grade 5 are also involved in other performances as opportunities arise. Pianists are invited to perform in the Piano Potpourri, a recital of pianists of all proficiency levels in grades 4 and 5. Talented performers may be invited to perform for guests on Grandparents and Special Friends Day. A handful of high-proficiency pianists are selected to be featured as soloists at the Spring Concert. Fifth graders are also selected for concert stage management, working in small groups to facilitate the concert performances.

It is our tradition to annually train one Band student to conduct the Grade 5 Band’s year-end performances of the Star Spangled Banner (Spring Concert, Field Day, and Moving Up Day).