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Lower School Performing Arts Curriculum

Lower school students begin music education as Tiny Torreys singing and playing drums; they continue through fourth-grade group violin and choral classes, experiencing a wide spectrum of vocal and instrumental music. Grandparents' Day and Spring Sing concerts bring the entire school community together to celebrate these abilities. Lower School strings students study violin or cello technique and develop knowledge of musical fundamentals including note reading, tone production and rhythmic and aural skills. The benefits of playing an instrument include cooperative work in ensemble playing, creative expression, performance skills and music appreciation.​

Music Program

List of 6 items.

  • Tiny Torreys and Junior Kindergarten

    The main purpose of music classes in the Early Childhood Center is for students to practice a sustained singing tone, demonstrate steady beat using movement and instruments, and develop listening skills for a variety of musical styles. Students learn simple songs with movement, play percussion instruments and practice echo games with rhythms and pitches. In addition, students use movement to explore different styles of music and concepts including form, tempo, instrumentation, dynamics and beat.
  • Kindergarten

    “Music tells a story” is the theme for the kindergarten music class. Students continue to develop the pitch matching and rhythmic awareness that began in the Early Childhood Center. Using level I of the Kodaly curriculum, students begin to use stick notation for rhythms and learn the solfege notes for the major scale. These concepts are reinforced by singing folk songs and playing singing games. Students also learn the instruments in the classical orchestra and listen to classical repertoires that tell stories:  “Peter and the Wolf,” “Nutcracker,” and orchestral works that have narratives. In the spring, students perform choral versions of several movements of Camille Saint-Saen’s “Carnival of the Animals” with percussion instruments and sound effects, working with guest artists from the community. Students also learn songs in contemporary styles, adding choreography.
  • Grade 1

    As first-graders are learning to read more fluently in the regular classroom, they are also learning their way around a choral score in music class. The year begins with the students becoming familiar with choir folders. They begin by following the words of a song, then following words with a staff line of notes above it, then lastly, by keeping their place in an octavo with grand staff and piano parts. This skill set takes time to develop, and students have plenty of time to go over a piece until they become more familiar with it.  At the same time, students sing folk songs from rote to reinforce rhythmic and pitch concepts. Using the Freddy the Frog books students learn the note names for the treble clef staff and note values. At the end of the year they also study jazz or rock-and-roll music forms, learning the instrumentation and basic forms of the musical styles as well as the biographies of musicians who worked in those styles. Choral music for the Grandparents’ Day and Spring Sing shows is taken from a wide variety of genres—jazz, popular, folk, show, and classical—with added movement.
  • Grade 2

    Second-graders continue to practice choir music reading skills and begin to sing music in harmony. The letter names for the treble clef are learned, replacing the solfege names assigned to notes in previous years. Students learn the history of the clefs and staff lines and become more familiar with “musical road signs” that appear in their written music. Students practice playing rhythmic and pitch patterns on percussions instruments in Orff arrangements. At the end of the year they study jazz or rock-and-roll, learning the instrumentation and basic forms of the musical styles as well as the biographies of musicians who worked in those styles. Choral music for the Grandparents’ Day and Spring Sing shows is taken from a wide variety of genres—jazz, popular, folk, show and classical—with added movement.
  • Grade 3

    Music-reading skills are further developed in third grade through use of more complicated choral scores and learning to play the recorder. Students learn the basic techniques for playing and caring for a wind instrument and learn to play in ensembles, using alto and tenor recorders and pitched and unpitched percussion instruments. Music appreciation units on composing techniques, world music, and improvisation take students to a deeper experience. Choral music for the Grandparents’ Day and Spring Sing shows is taken from a wide variety of genres—jazz, popular, folk, show and classical—with added movement.
  • Grade 4

    Building on the third-grade instrumental experience (recorder), all fourth-grade students take beginning violin during one general music class per week. Students use school instruments and do not take the instruments home for additional practice.  Students learn basic violin technique, improve rhythm and pitch skills, and develop more advanced listening, music-reading and performance skills. They continue to use their music-reading skills in choir and instrumental music and add more complicated choreography to songs. Students also learn music from several periods of California history and folk dances, in conjunction with the fourth-grade California social studies curriculum.

Instrumental Music Instruction (Fee-Based)

In addition to the beginning violin program offered to all Grade 4 students, elective violin and cello lessons are offered for a fee in grades 3 and 4. Children receive two group lessons each week, which take place during one Physical Education class and one recess period. Elective string students in Grades 3–4 perform in several group concerts each year. 

Students in Grades 1 and 2 who are interested in beginning violin or cello may participate in an after-school beginning strings class. Participation in the after-school beginning strings class is contingent upon the student taking private lessons concurrently outside of the school. Students in Grade 2 who are already more advanced and have taken private lessons for at least one year may participate in the advanced group class. The class is a requirement for Grade 2 students participating in the Lower School Orchestra (if accepted through audition). In all string classes, a combination of string methods is taught with an emphasis on note reading.

Lower School Orchestra

Advanced Grade 3 and 4 string students who become more competent with note reading may be invited to join the Lower School Orchestra, which meets after school. These students will also participate in the two group lessons offered during the school day each week. Incoming Grade 3 students and new students with previous experience may audition for the Lower School Orchestra. In addition, Grade 2 students who demonstrate developmental readiness and an advanced level of proficiency, and who are also studying privately outside the school, may audition for the Lower School Orchestra. These Grade 2 students must also participate in the advanced group lesson after school.

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9490 Genesee Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

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