Music & Performing Arts In Grade VI
(Two 50-minute periods per week)
Each Sixth Grade class meets for music twice each cycle for 50 minutes of General Music. In addition, students may elect to participate in the school orchestra, chorus, or jazz band.
Sixth graders experience the music of Africa, grow as ensemble musicians, and learn to express their own musical ideas primarily through the lens of the World Music Drumming curriculum. The year begins with ensemble-drumming activities (Question-Answer-Question-Echo, Call-Response) and an introduction to the concept of layering and complementary parts. The complexity of these drum ensembles grows over the course of the year, culminating in difficult 3-against-2 polyrhythms. Simultaneously, students grow in their ability to create their own compositions in this style, using small-group work to experiment with creating complementary parts. Each ensemble unit also includes song literature, building student musicianship through the challenge of singing and playing simultaneously, and students explore a wide variety of African song literature over the course of the year. While the focus of the year is on learning an oral tradition, students continue developing music literacy through the use of Conversational Solfege. This involves the practice of audiation, repetition of patterns, and use of rhythm and tonal syllables. Students sing on solfege with hand signs using movable do and la-based minor, and use takadimi syllables for rhythms. They also practice reading musical notation as they transfer the ensembles they have learned to xylophones in the spring semester. Rites of Passage is a culmination of student work which includes an original instrumental ensemble created collaboratively by each class. Students exercise their musicianship, creativity and listening skills in the composition and execution of these ensembles; in addition, they develop their ability to work in teams, communicate their ideas, and compromise.
Students develop musicianship through active participation in performing and creating music: they sing, play instruments, move, dance, listen, analyze, create, read, and notate. Their music-reading and ear-training skills are built through frequent singing and use of solfege (a method used to teach pitch and sight singing).