2nd Grade and 3rd Grade

2nd and 3rd Grade
Conversational Solfege PicIn 2nd Grade, we use the skills developed in the earlier grades via the First Steps in Music curriculum and begin to focus on developing music literacy using the “Conversational Solfege” curriculum integrated with the Kodaly Method.  What is music literacy?

Music literacy is comprised of several things:

  • the ability to actively appreciate, rather than just be a passive listener (though passive listening serves a purpose as well);
  • the ability to understand what one is hearing, such as the form of a piece of music, the tones and rhythms beings used, the tonality (if it is in major, minor, pentatonic, or a mode);
  • the ability to read and write in music notation.

conversational-solfege 12 Steps DiagramIt is all of these things.  In order to achieve this, we use a curriculum called “Conversational Solfege,” which is a research-based, sequential, literature-derived curriculum for training students to hear, perform, improvise, compose, read, and write music.  This, combined with my training in and use of the Kodaly Methodology, provides students with a logical development of musical skills and understanding.  It’s also fun because we learn by “doing music” (see below for more detail).

This curriculum, developed by Dr. John Feirerabend of the Hartt School of Music, follows a 12-step process for each unit of study.  It ensures that students have an immersion in a given rhythmic or tonal element and includes assessments before moving on to each step and each unit.  Here is a guide to the curriculum:


In addition to developing students music literacy in 2nd and 3rd grade, we also focus on “doing music” (singing, playing instruments, playing music games and contra dances, etc.) and “knowing about music” (understanding and using musical terms, learning about composers and artists, learning aspects of music history, etc.).

Louis ArmstrongIn 3rd grade, I also begin introducing students to Jazz and the Blues.  We begin learning about how the blues and jazz developed, great jazz artists, and more.  We also begin learning songs and singing games from the tradition.  Our study of the soprano recorder begins in this grade and students begin learning how to play some blues songs and improvise with their recorders (and voices).  Our culminating event is a free field trip to the Jazz Standard in New York City.

Jazz Standard Club


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