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Information about the new music program for Elementary students

The School District of Janesville (SDJ) values a well-rounded education that prepares students for success in career and college. Part of that education includes lessons and experiences in the arts, including choral and instrumental music. After lengthy analysis of the music program offered to students, the SDJ has approved enhancing the music education program for students in grades K-8, adding instructional time for music in 5th grade, and concentrating band and orchestra programs in the middle schools.

Are you eliminating the music program for 5th grade students with this new program?

• No, in fact, we are expanding the music program for all students in grades K-8.
• Instead of students self-selecting for band in 5th grade, all students will have a full year of music education to help them learn more about different instruments and how they work, different types of music, and different music careers/opportunities they may find as they get older.
• Weekly music instruction will go from 60 to 90 minutes for all 5th grade students.
• The current 5th grade band and orchestra option available to some students will now become a 6th grade band and orchestra option available to all students.

Did you include music teachers in the planning of this new program/structure?

• Yes, Tina Johnson, a district administrator with an extensive background as a music educator, led the review/evaluation process of the current music program. This began in the summer of 2018.
• All district music staff (30 teachers) were invited to 2 large group meetings - one in the Fall and one this January.
• Multiple small group meetings, individual meetings and department (general music, instrumental
music, choir) meetings took place.
• Principals were interviewed in 1:1 sessions in Sept/Oct.; and continued to be a part of the conversation  Throughout.
• The district’s curriculum team was involved via the Director of Innovation and Learning, Allison DeGraaf.
• Assistant Superintendent Scott Garner was involved from an HR/staffing perspective.
• Superintendent Steve Pophal was involved with regular meetings to ensure all parties were communicating and working towards a final product that would benefit all students.

How does 5th grade band/orchestra work now?

• Three (3) Elementary Instrumental music teachers travel among nine (9) elementary buildings. The remaining three (3) elementary schools are covered through dual licensure and/or a traveling middle school Orchestra Director.
• In the first 3 weeks of school, students interested in 5th grade band/orchestra are pulled out of classes to go through a “play test” i.e., assessing individuals on skills and ability to play. This process typically takes 1 full day per elementary school, providing each student approximately 15 minutes to decide/select an instrument they want to play.
• Once students select their instrument, they have about one week to purchase, rent to own, or check out a school loaned instrument.
• The weekly schedule of Instruction requires students take two 30-minute lessons per week.
• Due to the nature of the schedule, the students are pulled out of core classes such as Math and Reading two times per week for band/orchestra.
• Pulling students from core classes for the band/orchestra program causes disruptions for both course work progression in those classes and for students not in band/orchestra.

How will the new elementary music program work?

• Music education will be increased from 60 to 90 minutes per week for 5th grade.
• 30 minutes per week will be devoted to Instrumental Discovery. The program is structured as follows:

WEEK 1 What is:
• Band?
• Orchestra?
• The Same?
• Different?
Listen/Visualize various genres of music
Name Instruments: Woodwinds, Strings, Brass, Percussion
Demonstrations of actual instrument; student hands-on
Review Fundamental Beginning Band/Orchestra Lessons
Discuss Air Capacity – Breathing Exercises
WEEK 2-8 Focus on Individual
Each week will focus on a different instrument(s)
WEEK 9 End of Quarter
Review (Inquiry)
Which instruments are you interested in playing and why?
WEEK 10-20 Students Select Top
2-3 Instruments
Students try the various instruments on their list
Students are guided based on skill as well as choice
WEEK 21- BEYOND Students Concentrate
on Their Chosen
Focus on demonstrations/field trips/exposure
Learn Treble and Bass Clef
Music Theory Concepts
  • 30 minutes per week will be devoted to Choral Music (presently, not ALL elementary schools have choir)
    • Pedagogy of the voice – how it works, how to care for it, best practice for singing.
    • A wide array of musical styles will be learned: genres of music, languages.
    • Middle and high choral directors will work with our general music teachers to align curriculum and expose 5th grade students to the many opportunities Janesville offers.


  •  30 minutes per week will be devoted to General Music
    • Wisconsin has Music Standards that are to be taught in grades K-6.
    • While most of the standards will be covered in Instrumental Discovery and Choir, there are areas of music (such as music history, theory and analysis) that will be highlighted in the General Music class.

Will this new program affect staffing levels?

We do not have staffing numbers at this point for the coming year. Like we do for all courses, staffing is based on the enrollment in the district. At this time, we expect our music educator staffing levels to be similar for the coming year. The changes will allow for reduced travel time for some music educators and a more coordinated approach to lesson planning compared to the current structure.

Were there any other options considered before choosing this new direction?

Yes, several programming options were discussed, but none garnered enough support among the music teachers. Concerns focused on the desire to improve music/instrumental access to ALL 5th graders, and keeping the program as part of the school day to avoid competing with after-school sports/club activities.

Ultimately, the program revision to increase the time set aside for music education in 5th grade (from 60 to 90 minutes) was agreed to be the best option. In this way, the district would be able to provide students with a strong foundation upon which to further their appreciation of music as they continued on through school.

Links to view/hear description of the program review process and the enhancements to be implemented
beginning in 2019-20:$file/Comprehensive