Music at Breakwater offers students a developmentally sound, carefully sequenced curriculum in music literacy, with a focus on singing and creativity. Music teacher Hans Indigo Spencer combines his training in Kodàly pedagogy, his background as a jazz musician and media composer with his work as a K-8 general classroom teacher in the Cambridge Public Schools to provide students with a wide range of creative musical outlets.
In the younger grades, which receive one music class per week, the focus is on vocal music and singing games which are not only joyful to play, but also reveal music literacy concepts so all students learn to read, write and play music. (Music literacy concepts include solfège syllables like “do” and “re” and their placement on the staff as well as similar syllables for reading and performing rhythms.)
As the students get older, they have more choices and opportunities. Fifth and sixth graders receive two music classes per week that extend the Kodaly-inspired play into playing instruments by ear, singing in parts, and creating music within an online platform called MusicFirst, within which they are invited to use Noteflight for notation-based creativity and SoundTrap for recording and production. Both applications allow the students to share scores with each other and collaborate on original projects. Hans also posts Noteflight scores of most repertoire covered in class, providing a way for any student to practice at home, whether singing or on an instrument.
Seventh and Eighth graders choose between three performance groups: a percussion ensemble, a vocal ensemble, and an instrumental ensemble. Each one continues a small amount of full-group literacy work à la Kodaly, while building repertoire specific to the focus of the ensemble. Additionally, these students are given time and resources to pursue their own individual projects managed within a gamified framework to track progress and reflect student success. The MusicFirst platform applications of Noteflight and SoundTrap play a big role here.
To access your MusicFirst account at home, go here. Your child’s username is their first initial + last name, so John Doe-Smith’s username would be: “jdoesmith”.
This year’s Winter Concert features a panoply of Breakwater’s musical life: Three big selections sung in parts by all students, grades 1-8; songs which feature students’ vocal abilities as well as their developing instrumental skill; original songs and compositions; the debut of our strings group, exciting music by our middle school percussion, vocal, and instrumental ensembles, and a showcase of many students who stepped forward asking to perform selections with a small group, where they choose the repertoire and Hans supports them in preparing the music and rehearsing.
Hans says, “I’ve never been so excited about a school concert before! Seriously!”
WINTER CONCERT DATES AND TIMES:
- December 18: T-K Winter Musical Concert 5pm-5:30pm (Jessie Auditorium)
- December 18: 1-8 Winter Musical Concert 6pm-7pm (The "Dan" Gymnasium)
- December 19: Snow Date T-K Winter Musical Concert 5pm-5:30pm
- December 19: Snow Date 1-8 Winter Musical Concert 6pm-7pm