Welcome to the Manhattan Beach Elementary Strings Website!
The Manhattan Beach Unified School District offers students an incredible opportunity to participate in instrumental music as part of their education in grades 3 through 12. Students who choose to take strings class receive a standards based music education on the violin, viola, cello, or string bass.
The elementary strings program is a three year curriculum. In order to gain the full benefit of what the program has to offer, students should participate in strings class starting in third grade and continuing through fifth grade. Students who partake in the elementary strings program will have future opportunities in the orchestra programs at Manhattan Beach Middle School and Mira Costa High School.
Following are descriptions of the strings classes offered in elementary school:
Beginning Strings Class is available to all third grade students. The first half of the year is an introduction to instrument posture and left hand technique. After developing a firm understanding of these concepts, students learn to hold and manipulate the bow (right hand) during the second half of the year. Throughout this course, students will pluck and use beginning level bow articulations to play folk songs and scales in the key of D major. Establishing an understanding of instrument technique and basic tone production is the main objective of this course. Fundamental music notation and instrument care are also introduced within the context of these primary goals.
Intermediate Strings Class is available to all fourth grade students who completed Beginning Strings Class. In this class, students continue to play the instrument they studied in third grade. Some students may be allowed to switch to string bass in fourth grade with permission. Techniques learned in third grade are reviewed and reinforced while new concepts and techniques are simultaneously introduced. For example, students learn to play in the key of G major, adding a new scale to their repertoire while learning to play notes on a new string. Bow control is refined as students learn to produce a sustained tone on their instrument. There is also a strong focus on music literacy in Intermediate Strings Class. Students learn to read rhythmic patterns as well as pitches on the staff. Additionally, the basics of ensemble playing are introduced. Students learn to play music in simple harmonies and rounds. As with learning a language, building fluency on an instrument requires repetition. Students learn to develop healthy practicing habits by filling out required practice cards beginning in fourth grade.
Advanced Strings Class is available to all fifth grade students who completed Beginning and Intermediate Strings Classes. In this class, students continue to play the instrument they studied in third and fourth grade. Some students may be allowed to switch to string bass in fifth grade with permission. As in the Intermediate Strings Class, previously learned techniques are reinforced while more advanced techniques and concepts are introduced. Students learn to play in the key of C major, adding a new scale to their repertoire while learning to play with a new left hand shape. A variety of bow techniques including slurring, staccato, legato, and détaché are introduced. Students learn to use the bow to control the dynamics and expression of their musical phrases. Fluency of music reading is promoted as students are presented with pieces that are longer in length and more challenging. The Advanced Strings Class repertoire includes string orchestra literature with independent parts for each instrument. This literature further challenges students to take their ensemble playing skills to the next level. Healthy practice habits will be promoted with required practice cards and similar practice expectations that were established in fourth grade.
Playing a string instrument requires a significant amount of hard work, focus, and dedication. Students who commit to their musical studies at school are rewarded by their efforts with fruitful group and individual experiences! I am pleased to lead the way for the students who choose strings on thei