Drachman Montessori is the only TUSD school that offers Kindergarten through 8th grade violin instruction to all students. Our violin program supports our school’s basic philosophy that all children can learn to play the violin. The program supports classroom instruction by building listening skills, self-confidence, primary motor skills, language development and memory. Led by our certified music teacher, Amanda Limón, all students at Drachman have the opportunity to learn to play violin and read music. Our K-3 program has more than 100 violins, ranging in size from 1/10th to 1/2. Orchestra students can choose from approximately 30 1/2 to 4/4, or full-size, violins to use while in class. All of Drachman’s students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade receive violin lessons from Mrs. Limón once a week. Drachman’s Orchestra Students who wish to continue learning violin after 3rd grade can participate in Drachman’s Orchestra, which is open to all 4th-8th grade students.
Kinder Music – With guidance, students are instructed on the basic steps of posture and positioning of violins using practice “box violins.” They also are introduced to simple vocalization patterns and are able to perform various compositions with instrumental accompaniment. At the end of the first semester, they participate in a box violin graduation, receive certificates, and perform for their families all that they have learned. When introduced to real violins at the beginning of the second semester, students not only are able to identify the different parts of the instrument but can also identify multiple music symbols and notation. By the end of Kindergarten, students are able to present and perform basic beats and counting patterns on real violins using pizzicato and show great discipline and eagerness to perform.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grade Music – Students in first grade progress to learning more difficult patterns, only using the open strings, and also begin using the bow. They are instructed on a more basic and simplified hand and finger positioning of the bow grip. Second grade students also progress to more difficult patterns and songs and begin learning where and how to place their fingers on the finger board to create and identify new notes on the violin. They are introduced to the musical alphabet and are able to make connections from the alphabet to their finger placement. Third grade students continue with more challenging warm ups, the “A” scale, basic songs and are instructed on more accurate bow positioning/grip. They begin reading traditional sheet music. They are able to identify the names/notes that are the lines and spaces of the treble clef music staff. They are also able to identify more challenging notation and begin understanding how to follow and read the different parts of the music staff. 3rd grade students also have the privilege to attend a field trip to hear/see the Tucson Symphony at the end of the year.
All students in 1st – 3rd grade are also introduced to quarter notes and rest and continue to learn and understand half and whole notes/rests. All students are given opportunities to interpret different styles of music through different ear training activities and are given opportunities to work independently and with partners on music manipulatives. At the end of each semester, all students perform rhythmic patterns, melodic phrases, and simple songs by displaying performance discipline.
4th–8th Grade Orchestra and Mariachi – Students can maintain beat while playing individually and with others. They are able to understand and identify different note and rest values (ex: halves, wholes, dotted, etc.), and utilize music symbols such as double bar lines, repeat signs, etc. They are able to perform scales, arpeggios and are able to play individual parts as others play contrasting parts.
A big focus in 4th/5th Orchestra/Mariachi is that students utilize proper technique in the correct setting and demonstrate proper care of instruments. Students are instructed on how to tune their own instruments with some guidance. Students are able to identify and understand time signatures and key signatures and are able to use and explain the Circle of 5ths along with sharps, flats and naturals.
Middle School Orchestra students have the opportunity to participate in TUSD music festivals, take field trips to work alongside high school performers, and perform at morning assemblies and annual concerts.
Mariachi students participate in annual concerts/fundraisers, school festivals, outside of school performances/gigs and also attend the Tucson International Mariachi Conference.
Autism Program – Depending on the individual students' understanding and level of functioning, they are able to participate in basic singing and dancing groups, play basic rhythm patterns on the xylophone and or rhythm sticks, and begin reading music. Other groups are able to use violins by first using pizzicato technique and others use bows, all while identifying music notation. All students participate in singing and perform at two group concerts throughout the year. They all also participate in developing better motor and social skills.
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