In reflecting on the Kindergarten through 4th grade play, I have realized that the Early Childhood and Lower School music program teaches students so much outside of just songs and musical elements. Almost all of the National Music Standards I strive to include in my lessons were utilized by various grades learning and performing the play or in reflecting on it after the performance.
- Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
- Performing on instruments, along and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
- Reading and notating music.
- Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
- Evaluating music and musical performances.
- Understanding relationships between music, other arts, and disciplines outside of the arts.
- Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
But many other important skills were learned, practiced, and completed to pull off this production!
Students had to work together as a team with students from different grades. The 4th graders were involved in many of the scenes with other grades, working together to bring the scene to life and perform their lines at the correct time. The 4th graders even helped the younger students move their set pieces and props so they could have a successful performance. The Dragon Dance was a great example of teamwork — moving as one without tripping, pushing, or pulling — and they accomplished the dance beautifully!
They also gained confidence in speaking and singing in front of an audience. For most of the Kindergarteners, this was their first play with spoken lines. I was so proud of all of the students, but especially the Kindergarteners for saying their lines with confidence and energy during the performance. To actually see a boost in confidence from the very first rehearsal to the final performance was so heartwarming. Having a combined play also quadrupled the audience size – which made it even more impressive that the students did so well, while keeping their nerves at bay.
Another important lesson was learning to make connections between Learning Links information from various grades. As we reflected on the performance in class, it was wonderful to see so many students appreciate another grade’s song or dance, or share a fact they thought was interesting from another continent. It was wonderful that in the Carlisle Theatre, we had the balcony area for the students to be able to watch the other scenes of the play; they really were learning up there!
And while they were awaiting their own performance in the balcony, students had the opportunity to see how the play and their behavior affected the other students and the audience. They had to really look at their own behavior and focus on the task at hand, whether it was waiting quietly backstage during another scene, or singing and dancing at the perfect time to bring their performance to life. I was so proud of the students throughout the day as well, for their representation of the Academy. The director of the theatre mentioned to me that she would have us back any time because our students were so courteous. She told me that she never had an elementary group in her theatre that used “please” and “thank you” so much, and were so well behaved.
Producing a combined Kindergarten through 4th grade play was quite the task, and putting the parking issues and technical difficulties (which actually turned into shining memorable moments of the play) to the side, the students really gained so many things from this particular performance. I am so thankful to work in a school where the teachers work so well together, administration supports grand ideas of change, and the parents trust teachers with instilling knowledge and building character in our students. The Lower School halls are so alive with the sound of music, and it is heartwarming to have students so excited about performing. I love seeing my students shining on the stage, having all that they have learned at their fingertips! Thank you for supporting the music program in our school — it means the world to me and our students.