When my classmates and I were students in elementary school, we attended music class every week. Our music teacher was Mr. Fike who taught us how to sing a variety of songs and he also taught us how to play the Autoharp, which is a folk instrument. Occasionally, during class I sing the songs that were taught to us by Mr. Fike such as: Froggy Went A-Courtin’, Pick A Bale O’Cotton, and Daisy Daisy. My students look at me as if I am an alien from another planet when they hear me sing these songs. In addition, Mr. Flores taught band to the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students and we could not wait to reach sixth grade so we could join band. Unfortunately, by the time we reached sixth grade Mr. Flores had transferred from the elementary school to direct the high school band and choir.
During our elementary and high school years, our district had a strong music program and by the time we reached high school the marching band had 110 members. Highlights of this time period are the marching band performing in the Tournament of Roses Parade and recording several records—I am giving my age away.
However in 2003, due to budget cuts, the district eliminated the music programs at the elementary schools. For the past 11 years music has not been heard in the halls of the elementary schools and the results can be seen such as students not wanting to participate in class sing-alongs and the dwindling high school marching band because there are no upcoming elementary band students. Unfortunately, this year’s marching band consists of about 15 members.
At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, the district hired a music director to lead the San Manuel High School Band and Choir. The music director seeing that he would need future members for his band and choir offered to teach music and band to elementary students. At first, students were reluctant to go to music class, but the music director showed them how enjoyable music can be and now students can’t wait to attend music and band classes.
My students have learned to sing and read musical notes this year, but I have observed that my students are benefitting academically from being introduced to music. For example, they have been researching Jazz musicians and creating PowerPoint presentations with hyperlinks that allow one to listen to different musical hits of the Jazz age. Also, they are using the lingo used by musicians and you can hear band members saying, “Be careful with my ax (instrument).” Clarinet players will say “Let me have a reed for my licorice stick.” And the drummers will refer to the drums as 88s. Other benefits from being involved in music are my students remain calmer and focused in the classroom. And when they are working on assignments, my students usually are swaying or tapping their feet to the rhythm of a new beat that they have learned.
But, most importantly once again, “The Halls Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.”
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