Lower School

Music Curriculum by Grade Level

First Grade

First graders use their bodies as an important way to internalize the musical beat. Playing barred pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments builds on kindergarten skills as students learn variety of Jewish and American folk songs. First graders will:

  • Write and perform individual rhythmic compositions
  • Learn about three instrument families: brass, percussion, and keyboards
  • Respond to music using visual art and movement

Second Grade

Students continue to expand their ability to write and perform their own rhythmic compositions. Second graders are also introduced to the woodwinds and strings while also learning about instruments in a marching band. The music of Gioacchino Rossini, a significant operatic composer, is introduced. Second graders will:

  • Compose and play simple rhythms using combinations of quarter notes, two eighth notes, quarter rests and other rhythms in standard meter signatures
  • Identify by sight and sound instruments from the four different families of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion
  • Distinguish expressive features: contrast in loud/soft, fast/slow, strong/weak, and smooth/detached

Third Grade

Vocal ranges continue to be expanded by singing in melody and beginning harmony songs. Third graders also study museums that are dedicated to music. Students describe different musical elements by listening to pieces composed by Antonin Dvorak, Gustav Holst, and Camille Saint-Saëns. Collaborative work is emphasized as students compose and perform body percussion and non-pitched percussion pieces. Third graders will:

  • Sing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of songs from memory
  • Explore expressive musical elements which may create visual imagery, impact our emotions, and affect our interpretation of music
  • Study the Rock Hall of Fame and Museum-Cleveland; Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum-Nashville; Sun Studio-Memphis; Stax Records-Memphis; Motown-Detroit; Experience Music Project-Seattle

Fourth Grade

Students find out how radio shaped musical styles and tastes in the United States. Fourth graders learn how music and language arts are tied together as they listen to a radio dramatization. Student compositions at this grade level become longer and the children learn more advanced playing techniques on the Orff instruments.

Fourth graders will:

  • Sing songs from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 80s
  • Improvise and play melodies or accompaniments within a given framework of pitch, rhythm, and form
  • Listen and analyze the music of Plink, Plank, Plunk! – Leroy Anderson; Niagara Symphony – William Henry Fry; C Jam Blues – Duke Ellington; Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles; Liberty Fanfare – John Williams; Production Number from Hollywood Suite– Ferde Grofé; A Tribute to John Williams – Star Wars, Jaws, Superman, Harry Potter, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestial; Beethoven Lives Upstairs

Fifth Grade

In addition to expanding vocal music opportunities, students in fifth grade study Jewish-American composers and musicians. Musicians studied may include Irving Berlin, who wrote a great deal of music for many Broadway classics, and conductors/composers like Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. Students continue to refine their composition skills and use more advance techniques while playing instruments.

Units of study include:

  • Vocal Music
  • Music Literacy
  • Playing Instruments: Non-Pitched Percussion Instruments, Pitched Percussion Instruments, Pitched Melodic Instruments (Recorder)
  • Music Listening and History


Students in grades two through eight are eligible to be in the choir. Choir rehearsals are held during lunch periods and before school with additional practices for special performances. The choir performs at Holidays Under Glass each December at the IDS Crystal Court in downtown Minneapolis. In addition, the choir sings at a variety of community events in Twin Cities Jewish community, including Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for ending hunger in St. Louis Park and the community-wide Yom Ha'atzmauut (Israeli Independence Day) festivities.


Heilicher fourth through eighth graders can take band with music school instructors who give individual and ensemble lessons. Instruments offered are woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Students can choose from flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba, and percussion instruments. The band performs several times throughout the school year.