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Music

Overview

image of music notes

Music is a very important part of the MCS Culture. Here are the things that we value the most:

  • learning to sing and play music from as many different places and times as possible, and learning to approach that music with curiosity and an open mind....
  • learning to read music, so that they can find the songs that speak to them and teach them to themselves...
  • learning to compose music, so that they can express that which cannot be expressed in words alone…

Singing

We sing music in music classes, in homerooms, and in the halls. We sing one at a time, we sing in groups, we sing all together. We sing about the holidays, about spring, about coming together. It’s my goal as music teacher to broaden the students’ experience so that they leave sixth grade with an open mind and a broad repertoire of songs learned.

For our older students, we also sing in chorus from January through April. The third and fourth graders sing together, learning to perform two or three songs. The fifth and sixth graders sing five or six songs.

Reading

Every student at MCS learns how to read music. This learning begins simpy in kindergarten with just three symbols. By sixth grade, the students are capable of reading and interpreting dozens of different rhythmic values, common indications for tempo and dynamics, and music in several different keys on the treble and bass clef.

Composing

Many people believe that only a select few have what it takes to be a composer. At MCS, we believe that all students can be composers. Our learning begins in Kindergarten and First Grade with students adding their own ideas to songs and making up new verses to familiar tunes. By the time students leave MCS in sixth grade, they will have composed an Animal Facts Rap (gr. 2); an art song based on a poem (gr. 3); a fiddle tune in the style of a jig or reel (gr 4); a verse of Gregorian chant and an instrumental piece about a character in Greek mythology (gr.. 5); and a piano solo and a duet for two percussion instruments (gr. 6). Some of these compositions are performed by the students themselves while others are performed by visiting guest artists.

Playing

MCS students also learn to play an instrument. In all grade levels, students try out a variety of drums and percussion instruments. Third and fourth graders learn to play the recorder, beginning with simple tunes and progressing to very challenging ones. Fifth and sixth graders are strongly encouraged to study a band instrument and perform in our school band. There is also a school chamber orchestra, comprised of students in grades 3-6 who play violin, viola, cello, bass, or classical guitar.

Electives

Fifth and sixth graders are allowed to take music electives. These vary from year to year but often include: playing the ukulele (no instrument or experience required!), building and playing handmade instruments from nature (knotweed flutes and gourd instruments), and composing for piano.

Rep

Rep, short for repertory or repertoire, is a time for students, teachers, and community members to share presentations, ideas, and performances. During the “average” Rep (they are all unique) we might hear two or three soloists sing or play, hear an entire grade sing a song together, watch a funny play, view a short film made by students, listen to a poetry recitation, and hear announcements from teachers or students about upcoming events. Students often visit me at recess time to practice for upcoming performances. Rep is held most Thursday afternoons (exact times vary). Family and friends are always welcome to drop in!

Teacher

Image of Travis Ramsey, music teacher

Hi. I’m Travis Ramsey. I’ve been teaching music at the Marion Cross School since 2015. Before I came here, I taught in another small Vermont town for two years, in urban Massachusetts for seven, and in coastal Maine for one year. I went to Hanover High School and am so happy to be back here in the Upper Valley with my family.

Along with teaching, I’m also a composer. Local groups sing my songs and commission my music, as well as artists in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

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