The BRSSD Elementary Music Program (Grades 3 to 5)

Our three amazing teachers, Alexis Varas de Valdes, Chris Della Pietra and Luke Barnes, are providing music instruction to all of our third, fourth and fifth graders. Our 4th and 5th graders receive general music instruction from Mrs. Valdes, and they also have the option to take an instrumental music class with either Dr. Della Pietra (our strings specialist) or Mr. Barnes (our band expert). Our team of teachers work collaboratively to minimize schedule disruptions, maximize instructional time with the students, and coordinate the curriculum from third-fifth grades. All three teachers work with our third graders to offer general music, and alignment is crucial so that our students across the district receive consistent instruction and skill-set development.

BRSSD purchased a new online curriculum for our team last year so that the three of them could be sure to be aligned. In general music, our teachers focus on four key components: aural development, singing and playing, composing, and connecting. All students learn the basics of reading music, rhythm and tempo, and developing the ear for pitch, dynamics and timbre over the course of the year.

In addition to seeing nearly 40 sections of students each week, Mr. Barnes and Mrs. Valdes also teach our middle school instrumental classes at Nesbit and Sandpiper.

Quality Music instruction during distance learning

BRSSD music instruction has been robust (and fun!) during distance learning. SchoolForce funds not only elementary music teachers, but also many of the online tools enhancing music education during distance learning. Below are just a few highlights of our current program.

What are those hand signs?

What your elementary students are doing during music class when they are practicing hand signs in front of their computers? That “thumbs down” is anything but disapproval – It’s ‘solfege!’

These hand signs are for helping the students learn their solfege (do re mi’s) and get a visual representation of the distance between notes as they sing. We use these hand signs for learning new songs and vocal warmups.

Photos of children doing hand signs for solfege

A fun elementary Nearpod lesson

Following are images and video from a Nearpod (a SchoolForce funded online learning program) lesson for elementary students.
Students experience a mix of informational slides, videos, and games to learn about musical pieces, the composers that create
them, and musical notation.

  • Nearpod lesson 1
  • Nearpod lesson 2
  • Nearpod lesson 3
In the Hall of the Mountain King

  • Nearpod lesson 4
  • Nearpod lesson 5
  • Nearpod lesson 6

Instrumental Music in 4th and 5th Grades

Foundational to our students’ music education is beginning instrumental music instruction in 4th and 5th grades. Our 4th and 5th graders are learning instrumental basics during distance learning. This experience readies them for instrumental music in middle school and beyond.

4th and 5th Grade students playing musical instruments

The BRSSD Middle School Music Program (Grades 6 to 8)

The music program at Ralston Middle School has several sections of music including: Chamber Orchestra, Advanced Orchestra, 6th Grade Orchestra, Honors Band, Symphonic Band, 6th Grade Band, Chamber Choir, & 6th Grade Chorus.

Band and strings are offered at Nesbit and Sandpiper to 6th – 8th graders.

Our Holiday Celebration of BRSSD music features musical performances by the Ralston Chamber Orchestra and animation by Ralston animation students.

A special BRSSD musical success story

Our newest Ralston Middle School music teacher began as a BRSSD musician! She teachers Chamber Orchestra, 6th Grade Orchestra, and 6th Grade Chorus, and co-teaches Chamber Choir, Honors Band, and Symphonic Band with Ms. Kromm. Ms. Marks attended Central Elementary, Ralston Middle School, Carlmont High School, and NYU, where she received Bachelor’s Degree in music.

Enjoy this video of Ralston Middle School student leaders interviewing Ms. Marks about her musical education and passion for music and for teaching.

Middle School Musicians

World music as inspiration

This year Ralston music students have been concentrating on learning music from around the world. You can hear some of the pieces they’ve been learning. They have been practicing many of these pieces as well!
Rabba” Indian classical arr. Falu Shah
Shina Vorgil” Georgian folk arr. Ilusha Tsinadze
Shen Genatsvale” by Ilusha Tsinadze
Tamzara” Armenian folk arr. Zulal
Trata” Greek folk arr. Magda Giannikou
Inqola” by Bongi Duma
La Cocinerita” Argentine folk arr. Sofia Rei & Sofia Tosello
Chacarera del Rancho” Argentine folk arr. Sofia Rei & Sofia Tosello
Doni Yar” Armenian folk arr. Zulal
Choctaw Drum Dance” arr. Martha Redbone
A.K.I.K.O” by Emeline Michel

A few of our middle school musicians

Middle School Musicians