Presentation School expands music curriculum

Posted on February 3, 2011 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Keyboard lessons are part of an enhanced music program at Presentation School.

The Presentation School has purchased $10,000 of new musical instruments and announced new enhancements to the school’s music curriculum. 

We now have one of the best equipped music programs in the North Bay area for any K-8 school,” said Presentation music teacher Lynn McArthur.

All students at the K-8 school enjoy 90 minutes of hands-on musical instruction each week.  “Students in grades K-3 play the soprano glockenspiel, percussion instruments, keyboard and practice a variety of vocal technique,” McArthur explained. “Students in grades 4-8 alternate between the recorder, the keyboard, the harmonicas and the ukulele.”

The instruments were made possible by a grant from a school family.

This fall, the school set aside a dedicated room for music instruction and choir.  McArthur purchased 23 full-size Yamaha keyboards, 11 glockenspiels, and, from the Sonoma Valley Music Store, 23 wooden ukuleles.

The 61-key Yamaha portable keyboards have hundreds of features for music mixing and arrangement. “They take up so much room that we had to make custom rolling storage racks to hold them all,” McArthur said.

“The new instruments make music class so much fun,”  said 4th grader Jordan Salmonsen. “I love putting on headphones and playing the keyboard alongside all my classmates and the ukuleles are my favorite. It is a great feeling when we master new songs.”

Every grade breaks into groups of 15 or smaller for music class, allowing each student their own instrument in most cases. McArthur ordered “Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course” sheet music for grades 5-8, and a song book is planned for the younger grades with the goal that every student be able to read music with ease by graduation. 

Students play the keyboard for 45 minutes every week where they may choose their own popular or liturgical song to master.  Popular choices include “Ode to Joy,” “Aura Lee/Love Me Tender,” “Singing in the Rain” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”  Some students are playing at an advanced level and they work off of higher-level materials.

“We have some very talented musicians,” McArthur said.

McArthur is kept busy at Presentation where she also runs the choir and teaches a guitar collective for middle school students.

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