Can you play a rhythm on a Djembe?
Can you play chords with Boomwhackers?
Okemos elementary music students can!
Every elementary student at Bennett Woods, Cornell, Hiawatha and Okemos Public Montessori at Central from kindergarten through fourth grade has weekly hands-on music classes taught by highly trained, certified and experienced music teachers. Mr. Eric Morrison at Cornell Elementary says that young children love to sing, dance, play instruments, and work with partners to learn about music. Music class is fast-paced and multi-faceted in a way that engages a child’s mind and body while also teaching critical lifelong skills.
Each school hosts concerts where students sing, play instruments and perform for their school community. You can listen to some of these concerts below.
Elementary students have also had field trips to Okemos High School to hear the high school orchestras perform. OMP supports elementary music activities at all four schools with instrument purchases, transportation for field trips, and other needed supplies.
Ukeleles are Unique!
At Bennett Woods Elementary, Mrs. Kara Kurzeja loves to teach her 4th graders to play ukulele. Students learn the parts of the ukulele, how to strum using different rhythm patterns, how to sing and play at the same time, how to change chords, and so much more! Mrs. Kurzeja says, “Ukuleles have such a pleasant, calming sound. It is a joy teaching this unit! My students are always excited and motivated during ukulele lessons.”
In the younger grades, students learn to play many different percussion instruments, and 3rd grade students usually learn to play recorders. Bennett Woods students perform in concerts like the Musical Smorgasbord from 2019. These concerts include singing, playing various instruments, dancing or moving to the music, and sharing their musical learning with their families.
Djembes, Tubanos and Boomwhackers, Oh My!
At Cornell Elementary, Mr. Morrison uses African drums like the Djembe and Tubanos pictured here to teach many musical concepts. “The drums are perfect for learning about rhythm and steady beat,” he says, “The kids love them!”
Cornell students also learn to use instruments called “Boomwhackers,” which are rainbow colored tubes precisely tuned to a different pitch. Boomwhackers are used primarily to teach students about melody, to play chordal accompaniments for songs, and for composition activities. Mr. Morrison says that “students play them by whacking them on the floor, or the wall, or your leg, or your hand…almost anything!”
Cornell students also prepare for and perform in concerts like the annual Spring Concert.
X is for Xylophone
At Hiawatha Elementary, there is a room full of xylophones and metallophones that Mrs. Liz Reed uses to teach students about melodic direction and the connection between the notes on the staff to the bars on the instrument. “We also have a huge selection of unpitched percussion instruments that we use to accompany all sorts of songs, poems, chants, and stories,” says Reed, “Hiawatha students love to sing, dance, and learn about music!”
Hiawatha students perform songs in the annual Betsy Ross Concert and the Land of Make Believe Concert.
Okemos Public Montessori at Central
At OPM Central Elementary, Ms. Caity Biermann teaches music class in the context of the Montessori learning environment. The school hosts concerts including the special Grandparent’s Tea Concert, where students perform songs for their families and serve them tea and treats.
Music is Essential
Research has shown that learning music improves reading comprehension, enhances creativity, and increases a child’s IQ. Participating in music also boosts a child’s self-esteem and the ability to communicate effectively and work well with others. Music is an essential part of a child’s development and provides numerous benefits that can’t be derived from sports or other subjects.
Enjoy these past performances by elementary students from Bennett Woods, Cornell, Hiawatha and Okemos Public Montessori.
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