5th Grade VERY beginning Orchestra

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    As much as I love my new job, I have however run into a curricular problem that I am really, really stuck with. My predecessor in the elementary school taught students half by rote and half by writing the letter names under every single note. As a result, students cannot audiate and cannot read music. They cannot identify a single note or name on the staff, play back tonal patterns, match pitch by singing, play together, and they also don’t have any general music language. Additionally, their executive skills are poor and they have not had much discipline. I should also note that to them I am a new teacher. Their teacher from last year moved onto a new position and they are also adjusting to seeing a new person teaching their class.

    I simply do not know where to begin with them! Because they are under so much pressure in other classes, they have an abundant fear of change and new routines. They also firmly believe they have had a whole year of musical training and do not want to feel as if they need to go back and do things over.

    Do you have any advice on how to build a curriculum based on these issues or how to start approaching this class? I have reorganized the class several times as it took me a while to understand how much the students really did not understand. I have also played for them a few times, tried to teach small sections by rote, slowly introduced words like “staff”, “clef”, and the concept of reading music to them.

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