About the General Music Program
General music teachers work hard to develop a curriculum that meets all students needs. Kindergarten through fourth grade students attend general music three times a week for 27 minutes, while students in fifth and sixth grade attend general music two times a week for 27 minutes. Seventh grade students who are not in a performance group take one trimester of general music, and an elective is available for one trimester at the eighth grade level.
In the ICCSD, general music is taught using a child-centered approach. Many of our teachers are highly skilled in using the Orff Schulwerk approach, which focuses on creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. In Orff Schulwerk classrooms, children begin with what they do instinctively: play! Experimentation, improvisation, and personal expression occur naturally as students become confident, life-long musicians and creative problem solvers. The Orff approach to teaching is a model for optimal learning in 21st Century classrooms.
A variety of instruments are used in elementary as tools to help students understand the way in which music is constructed. Song literature comes from all areas of the world and involve ideas that allow integration with math, science, social studies and language arts. The skills learned can open the doors for children to express their creativity. Technology, in many forms, is an important part of Junior High general music classes, as well as a vehicle for learning and self-expression.
Parents have been very supportive of the general music program. The Iowa City Schools Foundation has purchased two Yamaha keyboard sets and two World Music Drumming kits which rotate among all the elementary schools. Individual parent teacher organizations have purchased additional instruments and materials for their schools and have helped bring performers, such as Opera Iowa and Dancing Drum to every elementary school in the ICCSD.
The General Music Program is an integral part of every child's elementary education in the ICCSD. In general music, students gain the skills necessary to participate in music, create their own music, and to understand the complex nature of music. Using these skills, students develop a means for self expression, which is an important part of personal development. The opportunities provided by the music education program also help students develop self-discipline, internal motivation, positive self-esteem and the ability to function both individually and within a group.