Grammar School Music

Grammar School Music Curriculum by Grade


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In prekindergarten, children’s love and appreciation for music is cultivated through games, stories, and movement activities. Just as children speak before they learn to read, they sing and perform before they learn the language of music. Prekindergarten students begin to identify fundamental elements of music such as pitch (high and low), dynamics (loud and soft), and tempo (fast and slow). They begin to connect sounds to actions and ideas.


In kindergarten, students continue to access the natural joy of making music through movement, singing, playing instruments and listening to many kinds of music. While becoming familiar with the basic elements of music, students create songs and improvise instrumental pieces. Through active participation, partner songs, and games, students develop the elements of music as they prepare for music literacy in their future study of music. Students explore and interact with picture books, poetry and images as they connect the concepts from music to language, social studies, math and beyond.  

By the end of their first grade year, students sight-sing melodies, write music notes on a staff and create music compositions based on storybooks.

First Grade

First graders explore essential principles of music such as dynamics, solfege, steady beat and rhythm through singing games and exploratory movement. They begin the process of learning how to read music, write on a five-line staff and speak about music. By the end of their first grade year, students sight-sing melodies, write music notes on a staff and create music compositions based on storybooks. First grade classes combine to sing at New York Day, the cross-curricular unit of study that culminates in a much-celebrated musical performance.

Second Grade

Second graders continue studying solfege and playing the xylophone, metallophone and unpitched percussion instruments. Students learn to read notes and rhythms on the staff by playing rhythm games to reinforce concepts differentiating whole, quarter, half, eighth and sixteenth notes. Students move and dance to a variety of songs to explore phrasing and music form. In second grade the students experience a large choral setting for the first time as they prepare and perform several songs from around the world to sing at the International Day Festival.  

Third Grade

Third grade marks an important milestone for young musicians at CGPS: the students choose one of a selection of instruments to study. Students also perform in a vocal and instrumental concert for parents at the end of the school year, showcasing healthy singing habits (proper posture, breath regulations and using the “flute voice”). In general music, students play ostinati (repeated musical patterns) on pitched instruments such as xylophones, metallophones and temple blocks while singing in both unison and canon. The students confidently sing using the pentatonic scale and continue to build their music literacy.

Fourth Grade

In addition to continuing with their instrument of choice from the third grade, fourth graders join Orchestra and Band. In general music class, fourth graders learn about musical form by singing, moving and playing in a rondo. Students play ostinati (repeated musical patterns) on barred instruments (such as xylophones, metallophones and temple blocks) while singing in both unison and canon. They learn to hear, sing and visually recognize the diatonic scale, as well as sing confidently in both the pentatonic and diatonic major scales. They learn to read, write and aurally recognize quarter, half, eighth and sixteenth notes, quarter and half rests. The fourth grade music curriculum also focuses on good habits for healthy singing such as sitting or standing with upright posture, singing in our "flute voice" and breathing deeply. At the end of the year, students prepare four songs for the Fourth Grade Promotion.

Grammar School Musicians in Action