Music Curriculum Newsletter



November / December / January

Early Learning Center

        For the most part, classes in November focused on preparations for the Advent Chapel. I was really impressed with how seriously the Level 2’s took their roles in learning their speaking parts, and Level 1’s really added so much to our singing!  In addition to giving our audience a memorable morning filled with scripture and song, these sweet students gained a good deal of confidence and worked together as a team.  In many ways, this is a great example of how process is just as important as product.  Other than that, we did many fun Thanksgiving activities (just ask them about “Mabel, Mabel”)!  Then in December, we had fun singing Christmas carols and other holiday songs, and did the “Nutcracker March” with the stretchy band.  
       Coming back from the holiday break, we jumped right back in to the swing of things with a unit on weather songs (mostly about winter and snow).  Two examples of activities are the singing game “Skating Away” and moving creatively to music as we acted out the story of Peter from the classic book, The Snowy Day.  We’ve transitioned the last couple of weeks to learning about work songs.  This is a category of folk songs that includes tunes like “Ev’ry Monday Morning (John Henry)”, “This Old Hammer,” and “Come Through the Sawmill.” As we learn to sing and play these old songs, we are also enhancing skills in social studies, language arts and math.  Through questions like “What does half past two mean?” and “What happens in a sawmill?” we are expanding our base of knowledge as well as adding to our repertoire of songs.   


Lower Primary

November featured music celebrating the farmer as community servant in Lower Primary music classes. Through song, dance, and instrumental lessons, students explored the folk song “The Farmer.” Its lyrics also introduced them to the idea of agricultural commerce, including the creditors and middlemen involved in getting food from farm to table. During the Thanksgiving season, we gave thanks in song with “Thank you, Thank you,” a familiar church tune with reworked lyrics. Learning ASL hand signs and a simple Orff xylophone accompaniment offered us opportunities to express gratitude for our physical well-being in a non-verbal way.  

       In addition to learning the sacred songs sung in our lessons & carols chapel, students explored secular songs of the season during the month of December. They learned a simple chordal accompaniment to “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” played on iPads, as well as played handbells accompany the singing of the Advent tune, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” They encountered the school service theme in a different context when they watched the wordless 1982 British animated short, “The Snowman” and contemplated how the music soundtrack served the story.
       The start of the new year held a number of new learning opportunities for LP music students. In choir class they were introduced to two new hymns: the contemporary “For Everyone Born” and an Anglicized arrangement of the 17th century German hymn “God Who Madest Earth and Heaven” (Gott des Himmels und Der Erden). “For Everyone Born”–with its message of striving for inclusion and justice for all people–served as a joyful musical tribute to the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The simple rhythmic variations of the Baroque hymn provided the inspiration for fun eurythmic movement activities. 

Other songs with character-building messages have made their way into the music room from chapel presentations during the month of January, including Pete Seeger’s “Hammer Song (If I Had a Hammer)” and Mr. Carey’s original “Buckets 2 Buckets.”


Middle Primary

        For the most part, classes in November and December focused on preparations for the Lessons and Carols chapel. In addition to giving our audience a memorable morning filled with scripture and song, Upper Primary students gained a good deal of confidence in their abilities and worked together as a team.  In many ways, this is a great example of how process is just as important as product.  
       We had time for some other fun activities as well, such as learning an Orff arrangement of the Spanish folk song “La Mariposa” on Dia de los Muertos, as well as a folk dance called Lucky Seven.  We also learned several new songs for the season of Advent in the month of December.
       We finished strong in 2019, and that team effort has carried over into the new year!  
Right off the bat, we began learning the contemporary hymn, “For Everyone Born,” that was premiered during our Martin Luther King, Jr. day chapel service.  The students really enjoy singing it and the message of justice and joy seem to resonate with everyone.  Balancing out old and new, we are also learning a more traditional hymn of German descent, Gott des Himmels und der Erden (God Who Madest Earth and Heaven).  You can look forward to hearing that one in chapel soon.  
       Inspired by the focus on MLK and the civil rights movement, as well as a new exploration on our theme of service, we are enjoying a unit on work songs.  This is a category of folk songs that includes tunes like “Ev’ry Monday Morning (John Henry)” and “This Old Hammer.” As we learn to sing and play these old songs, we are also looking at them through the lens of social studies.  We discuss things like where and when they originated, who would have sung them, how they helped the workers cope with challenging situations, and why they still have something to offer us today.  


Upper Primary

     For the most part, classes in November and December focused on preparations for the Holiday Program.  We put finishing touches on the songs students had been learning since the beginning of the school year – adding elements like instrumental accompaniments, vocal solos, speaking parts, and dance – and our big night was a huge success!  In addition to giving our audience a memorable performance, Upper Primary students gained a good deal of confidence in their abilities and worked together as a team.  In many ways, this is a great example of how process is just as important as product.  
       We finished strong in 2019, and that team effort has carried over into the new year!  
Right off the bat, we began learning the contemporary hymn, “For Everyone Born,” that was premiered during our Martin Luther King, Jr. day chapel service.  The students really enjoy singing it and the message of justice and joy seem to resonate with everyone.  Balancing out old and new, we are also learning a more traditional hymn of German descent, Gott des Himmels und der Erden (God Who Madest Earth and Heaven).  You can look forward to hearing that one in chapel soon.  
       Inspired by the focus on MLK and the civil rights movement, as well as a new exploration on our theme of service, we are enjoying a unit on work songs.  This is a category of folk songs that includes tunes like “Ev’ry Monday Morning (John Henry)” and “This Old Hammer.”  As we learn to sing and play these old songs, we are also looking at them through the lens of social studies.  We discuss things like where and when they originated, who would have sung them, how they helped the workers cope with challenging situations, and why they still have something to offer us today.  

ST NICHOLAS SCHOOL 7525 Min Tom Drive | Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421 | ph: (423).899.1999 | fax: (423).899.0109 | [email protected]