2016-2017 Annual Report
General Music Instruction and Curriculum
Students received 33–45 general music classes during the school year. On each grade level, music teachers incorporated a variety of age-appropriate methods to engage students in participatory learning of musical and cognitive skills. Lessons included singing and playing instruments, such as: xylophones, hand percussion, and recorders in grades K–5 and guitars in grades 6–8. Middle school-level instruction also incorporated music technology.
Instruction continued to follow ETM’s grade-level music curriculum, which was addressed throughout ETM’s music teacher training. Music teachers assessed students via performances, quizzes, portfolios, and homework. Beyond teaching students musical skills and knowledge, music teachers used music to support learning in other areas. One teacher shared, “I used Peter and the Wolf during a unit with my second grade students, where we explored the process of creating and expressing a fictional narrative. It was a highly interactive lesson where music, English Language Arts, and social sciences all intersected in the music classroom.” Other teachers reported supporting lessons including American history, geography, fractions and division, and the life cycles of plants and seasons.
Partner schools hosted winter concerts in December and January and spring concerts took place in April, May, and June. Every partner school student performed in these school-wide concerts, which allowed them to showcase their new skills and accomplishments to peers, parents, local government representatives, and their wider school communities.
Elective choral programs were offered at 30 partner schools, through rehearsals held at least once a week before, during, or after school. Over 900 students participated in a choral program, improving listening skills, learning stage presence, and developing their voices. Choirs performed in school-wide concerts and special performances, such as ETM’s annual gala.
Instrumental programs expanded to eight string orchestras and 18 bands engaging nearly 1,400 students in grades 4-8 in more advanced instrumental instruction and performance. Interested students attended two to three full ensemble rehearsals per week in addition to weekly group lessons. Each student rented or borrowed an instrument, with ETM providing financial aid so that all interested students could participate. Band and string orchestra students deepened their musical proficiency and developed discipline, concentration, and cooperation skills. Most ensemble students made debut performances at “Breakfast with the Band/Orchestra” events in January, February, and March, and some advanced ensembles performed at community events.
In June, band, orchestra and choral ensembles participated in the annual “ETM Festival” at Lehman College’s Center for Performing Arts.
ETM’s ensemble programs continued to be popular among principals, students, and parents. Principals have reported positive correlation between ensemble participation and higher school attendance. Many teachers and principals have reported positive behavioral changes among students. For example, at P.S. 91 in the Bronx, one student struggled with socializing at school until he joined the school’s orchestra. Huey often misinterpreted his classmates’ actions and started fights. Then he started playing the cello in the school’s orchestra, which helped him learn how to understand social cues and make friends. His music teacher shared, “Succeeding at the cello has given him confidence and greatly boosted his self-esteem.” Music is providing Huey with a constructive outlet for his emotions.
Several schools created small after-school groups such as chamber orchestra, jazz band, drama club, and percussion-specific ensembles focusing on Boomwhackers and world drumming.
Groups of partner school students performed at special events around their communities, which helped schools increase their visibility and engage more deeply with parents and community members. For instance, sixth-graders from St. Ann’s School in East Harlem wrote an original song, “Soar,” under the guidance of singer-songwriter Anne Buckle and in collaboration with the Country Music Hall of Fame. The band at P.S. 76 in the Bronx performed in the Bronx Week Parade for the seventh year in a row. Multi-platinum singer Josh Groban visited and sang with choir students at P.S. 91 in the Bronx, Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell visited and played with the school’s orchestra, and Bell and string trio Time For Three performed with Co-op City middle school M.S. 180’s orchestra students at ETM’s annual Gala. These opportunities inspire ETM students to take their musicianship seriously.