Welcome to Miss Abby’s Classroom

Thomas Palmatier • FeaturesMay 2023 • May 11, 2023

Students who are in Miss Abby’s Classroom from kindergarten through 5th grade progress through a curriculum that eventually leads to their having basic proficiency on keyboard, recorder, ukulele, mallet percussion, and rhythm percussion. They can read rhythms up to sixteenth notes and know the notes in bass and treble clef.

Recently, I subbed for her, and students in 5th grade were composing songs. They wrote lyrics, had at least a verse and a chorus, and sometimes a bridge, decided on chord progressions, and composed melodies. Veteran teachers of these grades will not be surprised to hear that many of the girls wrote very personal lyrics, often about their insecurities. Most of the boys focused on video games or too frequently, bodily noises!

While none of these compositions were any threat to win a Grammy, the students all concluded it was difficult to write a good song and they especially appreciated why many composers worked with lyricists. We then listened to a few songs and pointed out the chorus, the verse, and the bridge with much greater understanding of compositional structure.

Meanwhile, 4th grade students were learning the blues scale and 12-bar blues progression. Each student wrote lyrics and then sang “the blues” to their classmates’ ukulele accompaniment, frequently featuring either a beloved pet or complaining about a pesky sibling.

In a future visit to Miss Abby’s Classroom, I’ll share what impact her teaching has on her students in the years after they move on to middle school and high school. 

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