4/5 General Music

Link to 4/5 General Music Website


What is General Music?

  • singing
  • creative movement and dance
  • playing musical instruments, and using the body as a musical instrument
  • creative exploration through improvisation, composition, storytelling, and/or visual art

Why teach General Music?

Students learn how to

  • work with others
  • create works of artistic beauty
  • become more aware and observant of others and of themselves
  • express themselves in ways that are unique and created entirely by them

Non-musicians sometimes discuss the importance of music education because of the way it relates to other subjects, i.e. relationships between rhythm and math. While these relationships actually exist, the idea of studying music for the purpose of studying other subjects implies that there is no other reason to learn how to make music. But if no one were to learn how to make music, how would great works of musical art exist, and why do people continue in musical endeavors? Music never seems to disappear, and new musical "artists" appear all the time - so there must be some reason that people keep making music!

The way in which I teach music in the classroom is based in Orff-Schulwerk, which was created in part by composer Carl Orff (1895-1982), most famous in classical music for his choral composition Carmina Burana. He was also deeply interested in music education, and in particular a type of music education in which students would improvise and compose their own music - but not just music, either. An essential part of Orff-Schulwerk is creating artistry through storytelling in all kinds of ways - with words, singing, instruments, dance, and the combination of all these art forms. Through over 20 years of experience as a music teacher at literally every level from preschool through college, I have found that this type of education is the most creative, engaging, artistic, and positive music-making which I have ever taught. This is why I teach as much through the Orff-Schulwerk philosophy in most of my lessons, or as often as possible.

Why this General Music website exists

As of November 2017, this is a brand new website set up for 4th/5th grade General Music classes in the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District. I decided to create this website because many teachers, administrators, and parents have referred to this program as "Choral Music." Choral singing, however, is only one part of the whole musical experience.

There is one other reason I set up this website: if you would like to see what's going on in 4th/5th grade general music classes recently, please visit the page called This Week/Last Week. I am also putting this information out to all the 4th/5th grade classroom teachers and elementary school principals each week, but since each school has its own way of communicating with families, and since some schools don't put out weekly newsletters, you can read what about what we're doing on this website as well. And, for reasons that are too difficult to explain, my "weekly" curriculum usually begins on a Wednesday and ends on a Tuesday, and every Wednesday morning I start a new lesson that always has a connection to what happened in the last one.

I teach at all 6 elementary campuses in the Belmont-Redwood Shores District, and at three of the campuses I travel from one classroom to another to teach my lessons. This makes it very difficult to find me in person. If you need to get a hold of me, please contact me at mfish@brssd.org. I can answer questions about the general music classes, or I can answer questions about the instrumental classes I teach, which are all the string classes at Nesbit, one beginning strings class at Central, and middle school band and orchestra classes at Sandpiper and Nesbit.