Students sing to the beat of the music on National Music Standards

Do, re, me fa, sol, la, ti, do.

It is music time for elementary students at Le Mars Community Schools.

Two teachers keep LCS elementary students busy each week with music class.

Kristin Iverson teaches at Clark and Franklin, while Julie Drees teaches at Kluckhohn.

They meet with students twice a week for a 30-minute session.

“We focus on the singing voice, beat and rhythm and instrument playing, all of which are part of the National Music Standards,” said Iverson.

Among those standards outlined by the National Association for Music Education, are singing a variety of music, performing on instruments, reading music, improvising melodies and variatiions and listening to and describing music.

Drees said one of the many things music class teaches children is to have pitches in their speaking voice.

Some children, she said, speak in only one tone.

“We talk about making sound,” Drees said.

A Thursday visit to Drees’ second grade music class showed the class isn’t just about singing.

Each child picks up a textbook and sits down.

Drees asks students to name the string instrument family the class studied earlier.

“A harp,” said one student. Another answered “Cello.”

Answers of violin and bass quickly followed.

“What also has strings but is not found in the orchestra?” Drees asked.

“A banjo,” said one boy.

“A guitar,” answered another.

Drees then points to another string instrument — an autoharp.

Several students came forward to strum the instrument as classmates sang a song they had memorized.

Singing, Drees told the students, is like reading a book — the sentences in a book are like a phrase in a song.

After singing, Drees introduced the brass family of instruments to the class — trumpet, french horn, trombone and tuba.

With class time over, students file back to their classroom.

Drees has a few minutes between classes.

“We incorporate and reinforce information from across the curriculum,” Drees said.

There is social studies when children learn about the origins of a song, such as a country or region.

Drees has maps in the classroom to help the children locate states and countries.

Science covers vibration and how sound is made.

Math comes in when children need to count the beats in the music.

“The more we teach the children the better they’ll be in their life,” Drees said.

Fourth grade students have already showed their skill at singing in public this week.

Students performed “The Star Spangled Banner” at Tuesday volleyball match in the high school’s new gym.

“It’s tradition that the fourth graders learn patriotic music at the beginning of the year,” said Iverson. “We especially emphasize ‘The Star Spangled Banner.'”

Iverson explained it’s important for students to know the history and story behind the song.

“We believe learning and memorizing that piece for a public performance is extremely imortant because it’s a song they will hear and sing the rest of their lives,” Iverson said.

The fourth grade students performed “The Star Spangled Banner” at Tuesday volleyball match in the high school’s new gym.

Before the match started, Drees and Iverson led the children in several cheer.

“Cheering shows school spirit and good sportsmanship,” said Iverson. “Cheers also work on beat and rhythm which is one of our main music objectives.”

The students also get to experience a school sporting event and just have some fun, she added.

Back in the classroom, the students will be learning more about music and preparing for upcoming concerts.