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Your first grader and music

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By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

Learning the vocabulary

First-graders begin to learn and use the vocabulary of music, such as tempo, melody, echo, solo and beat. They also learn to understand how music communicates feelings. Your child can use words such as happy, sad, excited or scary to describe the emotions portrayed in music.

Learning notes

In a rich music program, first-graders develop recognition of musical notation. They learn to read and write simple rhythm patterns.

What to Look for When You Visit

  • Musical instruments, such as drums, cymbals, triangles and rhythm sticks
  • Sound recordings from a wide variety of cultures, styles and eras
  • Music-related books
  • Puppets or other props used for singing or movement games

Comments from readers

"I am looking for lesson plans for 5 Yr olds. I would love a collection by Mirium Meyers. Lauriann Heisler "
"My daughter, when started kindergarten, had difficulties with her fine motor skills - cutting, coloring and writing, in general. At the age of 5 and a half she started taking piano lessons. Her fine motor skills improved immensely in a few weeks time. A major concern of course, yet this was not the major improvement. She became more serious and mature by taking her music seriously and her commitment to it is very natural so far. She does use music terminology naturally which increases her vocabulary level; she enjoys music more and loves to learn about composers and history. For example, her music teacher told her that Beethoven was her hero because not only he was a great composer, bu that he believed in democracy and freedom of men - and my daughter immediately made a connection with Lincoln - learning the word democracy and connecting the dots in history. I guess music alone can fill in many gaps in children when presented with love and honesty. My daughter adores her mus! ic teacher - in fact, the only class that she runs to with a face full of smile. "
"No Child Left Behind has KILLED the music and arts programs in our schools in America. It teaches to teach to the mediocre child- everyone should be learning at the same level. There are limited opportunities for students to shine. Students that want to do more are discouraged because (1) there is no time in teacher's schedules to do something creative (teach for the test! teach for the test!) (2)students are drilled in math for a whole month before being drilled writing for another month in order to take the standardized tests (teach for the test! teach for the test!) Therefore, a school musical, or a chorus program, or drama production is out of the question because principals need to see results and teachers need to make it happen. I have been a music teacher for over 10 years and have seen the downward spiral. I have worked in Greenwich Village, Italy, Long Island, NY and now in Charlotte, NC. Students should have the opportunity to be creative and have outlets d! uring their school day to do so, but testing means MONEY and that seems to be more important than our students education and mental well-being. "
"Get real. I teach first grade. There is no time or money for a music program. In a perfect world, or maybe one without NCLB..."
"I love what you write. Why do I see no evidence of these ideas in our city's public schools? Where is the music?"
"That's great, I sing a lot with my first graders, however, the district only wants me to do reading first for 2 and a half hours, then math, science social studies and science, so I try to squeeze music whenever I can and nursery rhymes. I feel it is important, and I love music. I have been singing in my church choir over 20 years, at St. John vianney Church in Hacienda Heights. I wish I had a music BA, but I have a minor in music from Cal st. LA and East Los Angeles College. Arleen Dodson"