No Series: Music Fundamentals to Enhance Student Learning

Music Fundamentals to Enhance Student Learning

Lesson Objective: Music instruction complements and extends students' academic learning
Grades K-5 / Fine Arts / Music
14 MIN


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does Mr. C help students understand the patterns found in music?
  2. Why is it important for specialty and classroom teachers to collaborate about their content?
  3. How does a students' ability to read music and play an instrument translate to confidence in the classroom?


  • Private message to Flordine Williams
Students are certainly utilizing and developing their auditory and kinesthetic skills. Students are definitely engaged!
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  • Private message to JESUS TOPETE
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  • Private message to Terry Alexander
Music teachers have the power to rule the world.
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  • Private message to Melissa Keeney Johnson
As a 2nd grade teacher, I haved learned some of the best instructional strategies while dropping off and picking up my students at music class. The music teacher at my school, like in the video, masterfully flows between whole class, small group, and individal instruction. Although I don't feel competent to teach music, I could help my students by incorporating more music into morning meeting, transitions, etc. I'm going to connect the note value lesson to fractions when I teach that this year.
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  • Arts Engine, Inc.
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    Art Essentials C0201_006001

    00:00:07 - At Ps59, in Brooklyn New York, the school has placed

    Arts Engine, Inc.
    Teaching Channel
    Art Essentials C0201_006001

    00:00:07 - At Ps59, in Brooklyn New York, the school has placed an emphasis to its music program. First grade teacher, Stephen Cedarmark and forth grade teacher Matt Sanislo coordinate the curriculums to reinforce musical concepts between the ages of five and ten, resulting in a rich and unique musical education.

    00:00:38 – Stephen's class - Well, my friends (starts playing drums), eyes on me, turn your body to the drum and let's start out with a little song. Kids and teacher singing

    00:01:04 – Stephen Interview – We are very fortunate to be in a public school where we have two music teachers, we have a lower grade program and an upper grade program, mine is obviously lower and part of my job is to prepare the students for third grade, which is when they transition to string instruments. So much of what I do is kind of movement based and singing based, you know. Call and response based and things like that, I love the movement activities with the younger grades because it's a time when we are learning how to negotiate space, that's one of the first things that a kindergarten student or a pre-k student has to learn, “how do I make my way around the classroom”. How am I kind of functioning, as a moving individual within this group, that's a really important thing that a child learns at that young of an age. *Singing When you hear me play the drums five times like this, it will be the signal to stand up.* I love using a drum to give directions because it becomes a song and they are listening to the song and to what is going on. I personally find that they are much more receptive when I'm playing a drum and I'm giving them the directions that they need. When we do call and response, they are feeling a pulse, even though they are not performing a beat, they understand that there is a beat, a measure and all those different note values have fallen at a very specific place within that measure. kids singing

    00:02:51 – In addition to these like, you know, movement and lots of singing, I provide them with a foundation and music theory, not only what music feels like and what music sounds like but what music looks like and how eventually we will need to really read that music.

    00:03:06 – Stephen's Class – Which one of those symbols, there are a few symbols that I used, which one's were they? I used “ta”, I used “titi”, is there another one that I used? I also used “shh”. You guys are all familiar with this, right? You're like, mister C, this is so old school, right? So, if I were to go like this? Matheus is probably going “oh, mister C, come on, giving us the most simple rhythms to read” - kids and teacher reading and sing the symbols

    00:03:56 – Stephen Interview – You know, there is lots of ways that this kind of connects with the things that they are learning in the other classes, like there is q lot of discussion about patterns which is something that at this age, kids are really obsessed with, they love the idea of pattern. And that is something that is addressed in their math classes so it's a way of kind of understanding that music exists in patterns, just as math exists in patterns and how we kind of create them and how we can change them.

    00:04:23 – Stephen - in Class – Can someone think of another tricky symbol that goes inside the boxes? How about miss Hannah?

    Hannah: two-two?

    Stephen: Do you mean two?

    Hannah: Yeah

    Stephen: And Hannah, did it look like that? Was that two?

    Student: No, two it was like a circle and then a line and it had two boxes.

    Stephen: Hannah, can you come up and show me where it would go? I hope they are ready for this. Hannah, I would just be shocked. So Hannah, you mean to tell me that, like you said, it goes in between the two boxes, so it looks like there is a little bit of space, I can go like that in there, right.

    Kids: no

    Stephen: OH, why not?

    Kids: Because the two takes two boxes and you can't take none of them.

    Stephen: Fantastic

    00:05:19 – Stephen Interview – When I introduce the concept of the quarter note, when I introduce the concept of the eight note and the 16th note, they really understand that is a part of something, it's a part of a whole and we talk about how we kind of break that whole down, you know what I mean and specially that conversation starts to happen a lot more in second grade where kids begin to realize, ok, Ta is two hands of something, if I cut that note in half, I get two pieces of it. I mean, we can talk about the number just as we do with math, one over two as being half of something.

    00:05:54 – Principal – Our specialty teachers and our art teachers and our classroom teachers work together by meeting several times a month to talk about the curriculum and how each other could support one anothers work. So an example would be, if Stephen is talking about the opera, the classroom teacher would say, ok, let's see what the story is, can I read the story as a read aloud, so the children know what they are singing? Also exposing them to the languages. Is the opera in french? Italian? And talking a little about the score, what that means.

    Class – kids and Stephen singing

    00:06:43 – Stephen – Interview – They make music in so many different parts of their lives and it's a place for us not only come and do it together but to also learn about the way that works.

    00:06:59 – Matt Sanislo Interview – I think we all have different modes of learning that are strengths and weaknesses for us, for some people it may be an athletic skill that they have, for others it may be math, it may be science. And music allows the students who may be more auditory learners to be able to have that strength or it may be a tactile thing where they are able to really tone their fine motor skills in a certain way and express themselves musically.

    00:07:30 – Principal – Sometimes it's a child who has a great analytical and great math mind, who is not quite sure about how to share that with the world. But boy, when they pick up a violin and could play that solo, their voice comes through.

    00:07:45 – Matt's class – Tunnels are from G to A so make sure your fingers stay down, number 20.

    00:07:54 – Matt – Interview – For some students if I can play notes on an instrument, based on what I'm reading on the page then it's not that much different than reading aloud in class. So it may even give them some confidence in a skill set that is unrelated to music.

    Kids playing – class

    00:08:48 – Matt – Interview - Music essentials to me are performing the instrument and doing it correctly and that includes, maintaining a steady beat, correcting your intonation and finding your role within the ensemble. They may have missed a note or they may have speed up on their first try but on the second time, are they able to then go back and correct that?

    Kids playing – class

    00:10:26 – Matt's interview – Are they able to curve that wrist the second time or bring their elbow up? Our ultimate goal in music is that they become independent of us, we wanna teach them to become musicians that don't need someone hanging over their shoulder. And are able to carry on with what they learned and are able to do it independently.

    00:10:51 – Class – Kid - Does your arm go like completely down like this?

    Matt - When we are using the bow? You can keep your elbow up a little higher, specially if you are doing the A string, if you're doing the c string, then you don't need it as high.

    Kids playing.

    00:11:07 – Matt – interview – I love seeing students that play a wrong note on the first time and then you see them kind of add down that extra finger, all of the sudden, they are like, you can tell they get it. Being able to correct your intonation is a very difficult skill and to be able to hear that you're off and adjust your fingers accordingly, that's very difficult and takes a lot of patience and practice.

    00:11:33 – Class – Matt – When you're doing your open strings, make sure that you're using the full length of the bow, a little caught in the middle, we got a whole big bow here that we can use. Down, up, down, up. Keep those shoulders relaxed, open and close, that's right. One more time, open strings and let's see if we can double our sound, scooping even, louder.

    Kids playing

    00:12:19 – Matt – Interview – Their process of growth is a continuous process and just the way that you continue language and math skills over a long period of time, it's really the same process with music and they start with the basic little building blocks, early on and it carries over into being able to perform on the string instrument, so the kind of basic skills that Stephen teaches them really carry over into how they are able to manipulate a string instrument or any kind of instrument for that matter, in this case, a string instrument.

    00:12:53 – Stephen – I Mean it is important at a young age, specially in a school where we have such a strong upper grade program, you know, to like, by second grade, to understand, what a measure is, what can fit into a measure and what can't. I feel and hope that is an exciting place for the kids to come to. It's, you know, a place for us to be expressive, it's a place for us to talk about the way that we understand music and the way that we understand lyrics, kind of a place where there is no judgement, it's not black and white, it can be a little bit gray.

    00:13:24 – Matt – Interview – We all have an inherited beat, we have a heart beat and one of the things that music does is that it brings that awerness to the children of how we, as human beings, have an inherited sense of musicality.

    00:13:37 - Principal – I think in this time, as in our country, there is so much talk about rigor and common course standards and academics, it's still really important for us as educators to remember that the arts are a crucial part of a child's education. It's not a fluff, it's not something that would be nice to have, it's something that they must have.

School Details

Ps 58 The Carroll
330 Smith Street
Brooklyn NY 11231
Population: 1001

Data Provided By:



Stephen Cedermark
Matt Sanislo


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