Newhall School District 3rd graders to get interactive lesson.
Third grade students across the Newhall School District learn note reading, rhythm, sight singing, and improvisation. They also learn about the lives and works of great composers and receive an introduction to the instruments of the orchestra. The third grade program is aimed at preparing students for playing an instrument or singing in chorus once they get to fourth grade. Based on past experience, the district’s music teachers expect about four hundred of the 1,100 third graders to take beginning instrumental lessons in fourth grade.
One of the most exciting third grade activities is an instrument “petting zoo.” Each third grade class in the district’s ten schools is invited to come to the “zoo” for a 30 minutes session. At the zoo students are encouraged to try out the district’s orchestra instruments, including violin, cello, string bass, trumpet, trombone, flute and clarinet. The event results in a raucous but fun zoo-like atmosphere where students get motivated to take the next step.
Petting zoos will be taking place at the following locations:
Monday 3/24 Peachland School and Oak Hills School
Tuesday 3/25 Meadows School
Wednesday 3/26 Valencia Valley School and Old Orchard School
Thursday 3/27 Newhall School and Pico Canyon School
Friday 3/28 Stevenson Ranch School and Wiley Canyon School
To further encourage participation in the district’s orchestra program the district’s Music Makers PTA sponsors an orientation assembly in June at which a professional musician shows off each instrument highlighting the tone colors and styles it produces.
District-sponsored wide scale music programs such as the one in Newhall School District are a rare thing in the days of the basic skills-driven accountability requirements of No Child Left Behind and ever-tightening school budgets. But Newhall is proud of its 25+ year program. The $450,000 per year program has expanded to meet the needs of the district’s population and has never suffered from cuts. Part of its success is directly attributable to parent support and the Music Makers PTA fee collection and donation enables the district to enhance and expand the program.
The vocal and instrumental music program reaches all students in the 7,000-student district in one way or another. Students of all grades are taught vocal music delivered by one teacher, learn to play the recorder in third grade, and have the opportunity to move on to a robust and vibrant instrumental music program in grades 4-6, led by five talented instructors. Currently, about 850 students receive small group lessons on a variety of string, wind, brass and percussion instruments and 650 participate in a chorus program.