Why?: Music literacy, the ability to read and understand music in all its forms, is the cornerstone of the bulk of elementary music. Learning to read notes and rhythms engages the same areas of the brain as learning a second language, and has been shown to boost math achievement as well. An understanding of non-standard notation encourages creativity and problem solving.
What?: Potential topics in music literacy for the six grade levels include:
K: Identifying the "look" of music; echoing rhythms on a variety of instruments; singing on sol-fa-la; quarter notes and rests (ta and sh)
1: Eighth notes (ti-ti), both standard and invented; basic rhythmic dictation; adding do and mi, introduction to solfege hand signs; basic dynamics and tempi (forte, piano, largo, moderato, presto). Major/minor.
2: Half notes and rests, whole notes and rests; rhythmic dictation; sight reading on Orff instruments; dynamics and tempi (pp, mp, mf, ff, andante, allegro, crescendo, decrescendo), basic time signature; basic sight reading on solfege, line/space notes
3: Dotted half notes and rests; sixteenth notes; triplets; time signature (6/8, 9/8); letter names of notes; sight reading on barred instruments and recorder.
4: Dotted quarter; eighth & 2 sixteenths; tied notes; stylistic marks (breath, staccato, marcato, accent); introduction to chords and harmony, basic two-part composition.
5: Major & minor basic sight reading & aural/rhythmic dictation; basic compositional styles
How?: The study of music literacy fulfills and/or supports the following Common Core standards: