Music Curriculum Guide

The Grammar School

Music and Performing Arts Curriculum 


Music flourishes at TGS with a diverse program and faculty. All students sing in a chorus, play recorder starting in third grade, read music, enjoy dancing, and are comfortable performing on stage. Music composition is taught through membership in Music-COMP, Composers Online Mentoring Program, and Noteflight where fifth and sixth graders have the opportunity to participate in the biannual Opus songwriting competitions. During fall term, seventh and eighth graders study an instrument of their choice in studio, culminating with small ensembles performing in a studio concert. Theater is celebrated all year long through numerous class plays. Traditionally, the eighth grade performs a Mummers’ play at their winter concert. The upper school program culminates with the production of an annual seventh and eighth grade spring musical and numerous musical performances at graduation by the eighth graders.

The theme of multicultural diversity is explored throughout the program, as students learn songs, dances, and singing games of people around the world and of many different eras. Many opportunities for group singing are scheduled throughout the year, encompassing all ages and giving a sense of unity to the school. We enjoy singing together at weekly meetings and special events, including a fall hike to Putney Mountain. In January, we learn songs of the civil rights movement and honor Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. at an assembly of songs, poetry, and dramatic readings. Student musicians have an opportunity to perform at school-wide talent shows during the year and professional musicians from the community are often included in our assembly programs. Special performances include K-4 Winter Concert, 5-8 Winter Concert, 7-8 Studio Concert, 7-8 Spring Musical, Grandparents Day, and Graduation.


Music classes begin in Preschool, with a weekly class focusing on children’s songs, singing games, creative movement, dancing and drama activities. Preschoolers participate actively at meetings and gatherings where we sing together for fun and celebration.

Primary Music – Kindergarten, Grade One, Grade Two

The goals of the primary music program are:

  • developing an appreciation for music
  • singing on-pitch
  • feeling and moving to the beat
  • playing instrumental music in a group
  • mastering age-appropriate dance steps and patterns and dancing cooperatively
  • taking direction and being comfortable performing on stage

The K-1-2 Chorus meets weekly and focuses on folk and contemporary songs, singing games, creative movement, dancing, and drama activities with performances at the K-4 Winter Concert and K-6 Spring Concert. The primary music program also includes classes in general music, dance, and theater skills.


The Kindergarten music classes focus on creative movement and the elements of rhythm and melody. Students begin to play Orff xylophones and other classroom percussion instruments. Movement work is based on Dalcroze Eurythmics, a system of feeling the beat and moving creatively to tell stories and express emotions. Singing games and beginning circle and line dances are an introduction to international folk dancing. Modern dance, physical warm-ups, improvisation, and theater games highlight the focus on drama and live stage performance.

First Grade

First graders focus on moving to and playing a steady beat, creating and playing high and low patterns, identifying classroom and orchestral instruments, and learning to recognize and play in AB form. Instrumentally, they continue reading, composing, and playing rhythms on the Orff xylophones and other classroom instruments. Creative movement based on Dalcroze Eurythmics, singing games, beginning international folk dances, modern dance, physical warm-ups, improvisation, and theater games are all part of first grade music.

Second Grade

Second graders focus on beginning musical notation and A-B-A form. Rudimentary counterpoint is introduced, combining the elements of melody and rhythm. Instrumentally, they continue to develop reading and composing skills, playing rhythms and patterns on the Orff xylophones. Physical warm-ups, dance, improvisation, and theater games are all part of second grade music.

Early Elementary – Grades Three and Grade Four

The goals of the intermediate music program are:

  • broadening students’ appreciation for music
  • singing with accuracy and ability to hold a part
  • reading music and playing instrumental music in a group
  • mastering age-appropriate dance steps and patterns and dancing cooperatively
  • taking direction and being comfortable performing on stage
  • continued development of music composition skills including an introduction to computer music composition

Third and fourth graders meet together weekly for 3-4 Chorus, which incorporates choral singing, dance, and theater skills. This group performs together at the K-4 Winter Concert and the K-6 Spring Concert. Their program also includes one session per week of soprano recorder.

Third graders focus on beginning soprano recorder, reading and writing musical notation, melodic and rhythmic dictation, question and answer patterns, ear training, and Orff ensemble groups.

Fourth graders focus on recorder duets, instrumental ensemble groups, improvisation, syncopated rhythms, and advancing their music writing and reading skills. Physical warm-ups, improvisation, and theater games are all part of elementary music classes.

Middle Elementary – Grade Five and Grade Six

The goals of the middle elementary music program are:

  • broadening students’ appreciation for music
  • singing with accuracy and ability to hold a vocal part
  • reading music and playing an instrument in an ensemble setting
  • mastering age-appropriate dance steps and patterns and dancing cooperatively
  • taking direction and being comfortable performing on stage
  • Electronic music composition through participation in Music-COMP, providing online mentoring of student compositions.
  • Optional participation in Opus competition, which selects outstanding compositions to be performed live by professional musicians in a public concert.

In fifth and sixth grades, the 5-6 Chorus meets weekly throughout the year and performs at the 5-8 Winter Concert and the K-6 Spring Concert. Additionally, the program includes one session per week of recorder and one general music class, which alternates at different times of the year between music composition and dance.

In music composition, students compose melodies while developing their knowledge of rhythm, key signatures, major and minor modes and scales, chords and chord progressions,and theme and variations form. In recorder, students choose between soprano, alto, tenor, or bass recorder, and trios or quartets are added to their ensemble repertoire.

Upper School – Grade Seven and Grade Eight

Fall Chorus and Studio

Seventh and eighth graders begin the year with one session of 7-8 Chorus and one session of Instrumental Studio, with instrumental offerings and ensemble groups designed according to the interests of the individual students. Offered this year are: Guitar, Ukulele, Electric Bass, Drums, Percussion and Keyboard. We begin with like instruments grouped together for rehearsals. Guitarists will focus on playing chords and progressions, transposing key signatures, mastering a variety of folk and rock’n’roll strums and lead lines, and singing while playing. In Keyboard, students will learn scales, chords and chord structure, musical notation and reading, and some basics for improvising. Bass players will focus on chord progressions and how to use the bass guitar to support an ensemble. Drummers will begin the term on hand drums and percussion, mastering rhythms in a variety of time signatures and styles. They will also learn how to use percussion instruments to support the total band sound. Several weeks into the term, bands or ensemble groups will be formed, mentored by a teacher. Drummers may switch to a full drum kit. Performance at the Studio Concert in December is expected.

Music Composition

Interested students may choose to participate on their own in the fall Opus 29 and spring Opus 30 competitions, with support from music faculty.

Spring Musical

Auditions, casting and rehearsals for the musical take place when we return from December break. The rehearsal period includes six weeks of rehearsals, with two rehearsal blocks per week, two Intensive Weeks, where two thirds of each day is devoted to musical rehearsals, followed by one production week which includes daytime dress rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday and four nightly performances on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Spring Musical completes the seventh grade music program.


The eighth grade class chooses and prepares two songs for group performance at Graduation. In addition, the music faculty supports individual students and small groups who may choose to work on a solo song for performance. Graduation completes the eighth grade music program.