Madrona students are fortunate to have two experienced and enthusiastic music specialists as well as access to a variety of musical instruments courtesy of PTA. Madrona has African Drums, rhythm sticks, Boomwhackers, tone chimes, resonator bells, and a huge collection of percussion instruments. Having this equipment enables the students learn the fundamentals of music and also to have loads of fun. Different methods of teaching are used according to grade level.
Mrs. Matulaitis teaches 1st - 4th grades. She uses a variety of resources to continue what Mrs. Tarbet starts in Kindergarten - enabling students to love and enjoy music. Students learn to sing songs of a varied repertoire. They learn to read rhythms and the notes of the treble staff. Students also learn movement and also try out folk dances from all over the world. Mrs. Matulaitis likes to emphasize four main concepts of music: rhythm, pitch, tempo and dynamics. She uses Music Express Magazine (standards correlate with National Music Standards), Music Mind Games and other resources in order to make music lessons fun and educational.
Mrs. Tarbet teaches Kindergarten, using her singing and songwriting skills and vast knowledge of music to awaken in her young students a love of music through singing. She starts them off with rhythm counting and note reading, including solfege (do, re, mi) notation. She works on ear training and recognizing melodies. She finds it amazing that they can do this at such a young age but she spends time on it every spring. She sings or plays a melody and they are able to look at melodies and recognize the appropriate one.
In 4th grade, students learn to play the recorder, and then go on a field trip in the Spring and play their recorders as audience members with the New West Symphony Orchestra. This program is sponsored by Carnegie Hall and the culminating concert is held at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. After the concert Mrs. Matulaitis works with the student to continue to improve their recorder playing skills.
With the 5th graders, Mrs. Tarbet incorporates much U.S. history and patriotic music to support their curriculum. Students learn to sing the preamble to the Constitution, a song about all the states, and other patriotic songs. Mrs. Tarbet adds very simple movements to many of the songs to get the kids up and moving as they sing along. There is a 6 week drumming unit in the fall with the African drums. There is a great emphasis on rhythms and learning to play as an ensemble with the drumming. In the spring the 5th graders use the hand chimes for a 6 week period. These are beautiful instruments and there are enough for each child to play one during class. We work on reading notes and rhythms and playing simple music with the chimes. They learn to play together in 5th grade. Mrs. Tarbet uses a keyboard for most classes. At the end of the year the kids participate in the “5th grade concert series”. Every child is allowed the opportunity (if they wish) to perform a song for the class using an instrument they are learning. Each year we have both beginning and advanced piano, guitar, violin, cello, viola, drums, trumpet, clarinet and flute. It’s a wonderful way to end of the year!