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Vocal and Instrumental Music

Music seems to be a subject that most elementary age students really enjoy studying, and fortunately, every student at Cumru has the opportunity to study music. Kindergarten students attend music class once every other week for thirty minutes; pre-first, first, second, and third graders have general music every week for thirty-five minutes. General music is no longer just a place where children come and sing songs, although they still do this. The children at Cumru master a set of essential skills just as they would in an academic subject. By the end of third grade, the students should be able to discuss basic concepts such as rhythm, dynamics, and tempo; sing folk songs from many different cultures; read and perform simple melodies in both solfege and treble clef; and have had the experience of playing many different types of instruments. Many students at Cumru will also have the chance to perform for an audience. Each year, one grade level is chosen to perform in a musical program.

Third graders also have several opportunities to apply the knowledge that they have gained in general music. All third graders learn how to play both the recorder and the keyboard. The recorder, a plastic flute-like instrument, is studied as part of general music class. Students who would like to own their own instrument are allowed to purchase an instrument from the school district for a small cost. Any student who chooses not to purchase an instrument may borrow one from the school for the year.

Third-graders also learn to play the electronic keyboard. This is done in a separate class that meets each week for one-half hour. Each third grade classroom has its own Yamaha keyboard, and students have time to practice during recess and before and after school each day. Each student works at his or her own pace on lessons that are assigned from the keyboard book. Awards are given at the end of the year to students who complete the first keyboard book. Practicing the keyboard is a permanent homework assignment for every third grade student.

Finally, third-graders also have the chance to begin to study a string instrument such as the violin, viola, or cello.  (Band instruments are not started at Governor Mifflin until fourth grade.) Students who are interested in the string program will receive a paper explaining how to become involved at the beginning of third grade. These students will also participate in the beginning elementary string orchestra and will receive a one-half hour small group lesson each week.

The music program offers a wide variety of activities in which students may become involved. Encourage your child(ren) to take advantage of these opportunities.

Cumru Elementary RICHARD KASKEY, principal
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