K-8 Curriculum Advice!
  • Hello Forum!

    I am moving to a new position, where I will be in teaching music for K-8 students in a Catholic private school (alongside parish duties). The opportunity is there for an entirely new K-8 program, with a great deal of support from the community to massively increase the standards.

    I am seeking a curriculum, that takes the kids from K-8, based almost entirely around singing. The preference for the administration is that this is basically a "Choir School", like the English might have. (I'm not entirely clear on the details of what that might mean, however.)

    1. I was not personally brought up in what you might call a choir school, and was decidedly on this side of the Atlantic as well. So while I admire the results of the English youth, I don't know the first thing about what they do that is so different from Americans. Your advice and soap boxes are most welcome on this subject :)

    2. Most importantly, I'm seeking a systematic curriculum that can take kids from K to 8, with the desired result being 8th graders who can sight read and perform choral works better than the average American master's student. (I really don't believe this is being too ambitious.) I am sure there are education experts of incredible talent who have written curricula far exceeding what I could produce.

    3. If you have any general advice on teaching K-8, and some hard lessons you learned in the trenches, I am ALL EARS.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,169
    Check with The National Association for Music Education nafme.org, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and other professional associations for curriculum advice.
    Thanked by 1sergeantedward
  • KyleM18
    Posts: 150
    I think there are a couple of Catholic Choir Schools in the USA (Cathedral of the Madeleine and St. Paul's Harvard Square come to mind), so I might suggest getting in touch with the teachers there. I'd also suggest going against the current norms in music education of constant need for memorization (as opposed to reading music), and start theory and aural skills from a lower grade.
    Thanked by 1sergeantedward
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,633
    The English Anglican Choir school has traditionally been a boarding (i.e. residential) school taking boys from the age of eight. Which is not what you want. Westminster Cathedral Choir School has been the same, but is just in the throes of changing its way of working (highly contentious). There are three other Catholic dioceses with choir associated schools which start at younger ages : Liverpool - http://www.runnymede-school.org.uk/ ; Cardiff - http://www.stjohnscollegecardiff.com/parent-handbook ; and Leeds -
    https://www.dioceseofleedsmusic.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Cathedral-Choir-School.pdf . Leeds also has an extensive music outreach scheme - https://www.dioceseofleedsmusic.org.uk/ . I think the Leeds website mentions giving advice internationally. Note that there are substantial differences in terminology between our educational systems, and the legal status of schools since most Catholic education is within the state(=public) system.
    Thanked by 1sergeantedward
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,126
    First; Do not use any state approved curriculum of the US. Its all shit....

    Second: The Madeleine School's general outline is where I started. The general goals are there. I use RSCM material, Kodaly and anything else I can get my hands upon.

    Third: Start aural skills in K and 1st grade. I start solfege in K. By the time they are in 2nd grade, solfege is just part of their regular routine.

    Fourth: read neumes before reading modern notation. Start neumes in the 1st grade.

    Aural and reading skills are every time you meet. We practice solfege constantly and read as much as possible.

    Fifth: Sing in every class, even the ones that complain.

    Sixth;what you sing in class, you sing at Mass. All of my kids can sing all the Marian antiphons, Masses 8,11,18 and 4 because of this. It takes time.

    Go slow. Start with the young ones. Work over a period of years. What you sing at Mass, you sing in class. Sacred music is the heart of the question.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 402
    sergeantedward - is this position located in San Antonio, TX?
  • @Ken Nope :) But I have been super impressed with a lot of the professional singers from the Texas school system. They have always been far ahead of their colleagues when it comes to sight reading. Texas is doing something right, for sure!
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • @kevinf: Thank you for breaking down your approach.

    I have heard recently about Quaver and Gameplan. Do you have any experience with them, or thoughts on a systematic curriculum like that?

    Or do you just write your own curriculum each year? (I'm assuming you teach K-8 or in some school.)
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,126
    K-8 in a Catholic school and I also am the parish musician.

    Repertory forms my curriculum and informs it also. Intervallic structures are dealt with in the context of the repertory. Rhythmic questions also come from the music. As our repertory has grown, so has the complexities of the things learned from it. You sing what you learn and you learn what you sing.

    Yes, there are certain pieces that are learned by grade. Solfege begins at grade 1. Pre-solfege begins in K. As I said, what you sing in class you sing at Mass.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 559
    Lots of people use the kodaly system in Aus.
    There is a whole curriculum surrounding it.
    It definitely works well to build up pitch and sight singing.

    It depends on what you want to do with them coming out at year 8 really...
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen