In Primary and Lower School, we create an environment in which students sing, dance, and play in tuneful, beautiful, and artful ways. With influence from the Kodaly philosophy of music education, students experience singing games, choral pieces, and folk dances from various cultures, as well as exposure to master works of classical music and its composers.
Primary School (Pre-K,TK, and Kindergarten)
Our youngest St. John's students discover and explore many art forms as they learn to express their thoughts, emotions, and imaginations in fun and creative ways. They begin to learn the fundamentals of rhythm, music, and movement through singing, dancing, and playing instruments. We explore drama through simple theatre games and imaginative performance exercises. Students help write stories and songs together as a group, learn about and make their own puppets, and learn how to work together in positive, patient, and joyful ways. The goal of Primary School Expressive Arts is to learn healthy modes of creative expression while practicing skills that increase learning readiness and positive social engagement.
First and Second Grades
Through singing games, chants, choral singing, and classical listening exercises, first and second grade music classes practice steady beat, develop aural memory skills, begin reading and writing basic forms of standard music notation, and develop the singing voice. First and second graders have experiences with classroom percussion instruments, hand drums, and barred instruments. Each spring, the students study opera as an art form and enjoy a Children’s Opera, performed by the Fort Worth Opera Company’s Apprentice Program, in our own Clements Hall.
Third and Fourth Grades
Third and fourth graders build upon the repertoire and skills acquired in previous years, develop their part-singing skills, explore reading and writing melodies and rhythms on the staff, and accompany their singing with barred instruments, hand drums, recorders, and ukuleles. Students study the instrument families of the orchestra and enjoy a presentation in Clements Hall by section leaders from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in the spring semester.
Fifth graders expand upon skills learned in Lower School. Reading and writing music on the staff continues as students experience more complex rhythms and meters. They learn multi-part instrumental works, and they sing, play, and create movement and instrumental improvisations to enhance the musical works. To broaden their music history knowledge and to deepen their understanding of other cultures, students study music of the colonies, from founding through present day in the U.S.
In sixth grade, students explore specific music genres to gain a better understanding of the importance of music in cultures around the world, including Africa, Egypt, and China. They revisit opera and the science of the singing voice; they research and study the early roots of music in ancient times; and they explore music and sound effects in movies. Students dive into the world of jazz, learning about its roots and the importance of African American music to the world. Singing, folk dance, and movement continue to be key parts of music class, too.
Seventh and Eighth Grades
Seventh and eighth graders choose electives each quarter. Recent options include:
Music around the World, in which students use music as their passport to explore countries using an arts lens. While studying and playing music from around the world, they learn distinctive rhythms and authentic beats and sounds from the countries they visit. Along the way, they learn about different cultures and people.
Music by Design, in which students learn about the elements that go into creating original background music and sound effects. They use original music to enhance the meaning of presentations, and they explore Foley Artists, composers, film scoring, and Garage Band.
In addition, seventh and eighth graders may participate in Theatre Showcase, an elective in which they produce and perform short works. All eighth graders participate in the second-semester eighth grade musical, filling both performance and non-performance roles.
Showcasing Musical Skills
Students have had many opportunities to share the skills they develop in music class. While operating under pandemic protocols, we seek guidance from the School's Pandemic Coordinator regarding performance opportunities.
Choral Anthem for Episcopal Schools Sunday
Second through fourth graders learn an anthem in music classes, which they then share as an offering of appreciation to the congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church. The annual Episcopal Schools Sunday service celebrates our Episcopal identity with church and School families.
Advent Choral Selections
First through fourth graders share sacred advent choral pieces with parents each December. Guest soloists and pianists perform with the students, and the service commences with a procession to the nativity creche.
Folk Dancing Festival
First and third graders present a Folk Dancing Festival to their parents each May. Parents join in for the finale, learning new steps!
Poetry and Texas History
Second and fourth graders study poetry and Texas history, respectively, and their final presentations include musical performances.
Second through fourth graders may participate in an after-school choir, which begins rehearsing in October and concludes with a service-oriented concert tour in December. The choir has distributed student-crafted Christmas cards and performed concerts at Mi Escuelita Preschool, Juliette Fowler Communities, and C.C. Young Retirement Community.