Pre-K, K, and 1st Grade

Pre-K, K, and 1st Grade


The curriculum: First Steps in Music: For Preschool and Beyond

Our elementary school music program at PS126/MAT is informed by a blend of music education philosophies, including the Kodaly method, the Orff philosophy, and First Steps in Music curriculum developed by Dr. John Feirerabend.   Beginning in Pre-K, and continuing through 1st grade,  The First Steps in Music curriculum is designed to prepare children to become musical in three ways:

  1. Tuneful – to have tunes in their heads and learn to coordinate their voices to sing those tunes.
  2. Beatful – to feel the pulse of music and how that pulse is grouped in either 2s or 3s.
  3. Artful – to be moved by music in the many ways music can elicit a feelingful response.

If you visit our music class, you will see students singing tunes, echo song, and call and response songs.  They will be playing music games, using rhythm instruments, and engaging in movement through music, including to songs that are sung and also to live and recorded instrumental music.  This looks like a fun time for the students and it is.  But, be aware that there is also a lot of important musical learning and development going on through these activities.  A strong music education, especially in the early years, is best when it involves active music making.   The following are just some of the skills students are through this approach:

  • Learning to activate their singing voices in an artful way (rather than just shouting or engaging in a talking/singing hybrid)
  • “Catching tunes”, in other words, being able to hear melodies and obtain them without always using visual aids (this is a form of ear-training)
  • Developing their ability to recognize patterns in music, both aurally and visually (which translates to identifying patterns in other subjects as well)
  • Experiencing musical form through expressive movement to live and recorded instrumental music, where different movements correspond to different sections of the musical piece
  • Improvising by singing their own ideas through musical conversations
  • Learning how to add certain rhythm instruments to songs that we sing and which instruments will complement the song, rather than overpower it (this is the skill of orchestration)

Zoltan Kodaly at the PianoHungarian composer, music educator, and ethnomusicologist Zoltan Kodaly founded a musical movement that has come to be called The Kodaly Method or Philosophy.  He believed that music education should begin as early as possible in a child’s life.  He also believed that the voice should precede instruments in order to fully develop artful, expressive singers and instrumentalists who are connected to what they are performing, rather than just performers who are pressing buttons or strings on an instrument without the deeper connection singing brings to music.  (Here is a link to a short podcast about the Kodaly Philosophy).

Kodaly’s work has been developed by many others, including Dr. John Feirerabend, who used principles of the Kodaly philosophy in developing his “First Steps in Music” curriculum.  To learn more about First Steps, here is a helpful guide (try some of these songs with your child at home.  Many of them are included in our music classes):

John FeirerabendMusic & Movement in the Early Years:

Here is a guide to how movement to music works in our music class (we use classical music, jazz, and other styes of music that aren’t mentioned in this guide):

My music program at PS126/MAT also integrates the work of composer/music educator Carl Orff.  You can learn more about him here:


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