S’Cool Sounds (SCS) offers elementary, middle, and high school students a core education in music through learning the elements of music making and music literacy. We focus on musical traditions from around the world and explore cultural connections locally and globally. Our innovative approach uses recorders and percussion as introductory instruments, universal in nature, which are learned easily and may complement many different classroom curricula. Singing and vocal arts are also central to SCS programs. Every program culminates in a joyful concert for the full school community.

All programs follow guidelines set by New York State Learning Standards in the Arts as well as the NYC DOE Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Music. Lesson plans utilize Artistic Director, Nina Stern’s unique cross-cultural recorder and percussion method and Pedagogy & Educational Programming Director, Matilda Giampietros’s Montessori/Orff Schulwerk exercises.

SCS tailors programming to best fit each partner school’s needs by having our Teaching Artists work alongside the classroom teachers and administration every step of the way. In some settings, our programs support or replace an existing music program year-round, in others, we create short, multi-week residencies with a focus on international cultural exchange through music. After-school options are also available.

Contact us directly for a full program menu, to learn about teacher training options, or to ask any questions: louisebrooks@scoolsounds.org

Songs from Students’ Family Traditions

Grades: K-1

Focusing on singing, games, clapping, dancing, and drumming, students share songs that are a part of their own family tradition, whether it be a lullaby from Puerto Rico or Korea, a Midsummer Festival song from Sweden, a counting song from Kenya, a ring game from Jamaica, etc. The classroom then creates their own “Song Collection.”


Build and Play a Drum!

Grades: K-4

While playing musical games centered around Caribbean and African rhythms, students learn about recycling and which materials can be recycled in New York City. Students build their own percussion instruments out of materials brought from home (like water bottles, cans, and plastic boxes) and decorate them with cardboard, plastic, and paper. The class then uses these handmade instruments to learn and play Afro-Cuban rhythms (such as Clave, Marcha, Guaguanco, and Bembe) and African children’s songs (such as Amawole, San sa coma, Faya Faya eh). Young New Yorkers learn about the importance of recycling and develop mindfulness about the footprint that each human being has in this world while developing their skills as young musicians.


Music From Around the World: Sharing and Learning

Grades: 2-4

Under the guidance of an SCS Teaching Artist, students learn to play recorders and percussion – universal instruments easily learned in the beginning stages – and quickly come together into vibrantly functioning musical ensembles that remain accessible to any level of training. Activities aim to nurture music creation, participation, performance, and analysis. Teaching materials focus on regional and world music as a primary gateway through which students explore musical resources, develop critical responses, and gain cultural sensitivity.

As part of its cross-cultural focus and commitment to joyous community building, SCS works with several humanitarian organizations to connect children through the experience of music making in communities across their world. Recorder and Percussion ensemble pieces are drawn from Nina Stern’s publication, “Recorders Without Borders”. Instrumental pieces can also be chosen to complement classroom curriculum, such as “Music of Native Americans” in the 4th grade.


Middle Eastern Music + Cultural Connection

Grades: 2-5

Similar to the S’Cool Sounds “Music From Around the World” program, student musicians learn to play recorders and percussion – universal instruments easily learned in the beginning stages – and quickly come together into vibrantly functioning musical ensembles that remain accessible to any level of training. Here, the emphasis is on the rich musical traditions of the Middle East. Students will learn about the region including its rich tradition of beautiful songs and compelling rhythms. NYC classrooms will have the opportunity to connect through letter writing, video and audio sharing, and - when possible - real-time Skype musical meetings and performances with musician students at a S’Cool Sounds partner school for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

African Music + Cultural Connection

Grades: 2-5

Similar to the S’Cool Sounds “Music From Around the World” program, student musicians learn to play recorders and percussion – universal instruments easily learned in the beginning stages – and quickly come together into vibrantly functioning musical ensembles that remain accessible to any level of training. Here, the emphasis is on the rich musical traditions of African countries. Students will learn about the region including its rich tradition of beautiful songs and compelling rhythms. NYC classrooms will have the opportunity to connect through letter writing, video and audio sharing, and - when possible - real-time Skype musical meetings and performances with musician students at a S’Cool Sounds partner school in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.

Jazz

Grade: 5

The S’Cool Sounds jazz recorder curriculum covers repertoire from the last 100 years of rich African-American musical history. Students will learn music by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Miles Davis. Skills in close listening, improvisation, and dealing with complex rhythmic material will be developed through engaging games and exercises. Students will learn about different styles of jazz from New Orleans early jazz to the modal jazz of the late 50’s and 60’s. Young New Yorkers will learn about the crucial relevance of their city to the development of jazz. As Wynton Marsalis states, “jazz is a metaphor for democracy”; ideas of freedom and personal expression will be celebrated in the classroom.


Music Technology

Grades: 6-8, 9-12

The S’Cool Sounds music technology course covers the myriad of skills required to be a successful producer of contemporary music. The Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is considered an instrument in and of itself, and like any other instrument, there is extensive technique involved. Students will learn the basics of sequencing, how to navigate the piano roll, how to program a drum beat, and how to operate synthesizers. All students will study historical examples of great production spanning the last half century of pop, rock, hip hop, and electronic music. Students will learn how to record vocals and instruments effectively. Skills related to composition and songwriting will be covered including basic harmony, form, style, melody and lyric writing. In addition, classes will address the physics of sound: students will learn about frequency, amplitude, and waveforms. Students will be able to pursue personal musical interests on research projects and, with the aid of the teacher, deconstruct their favorite recordings to discover how they were created. Students’ work will be featured on the class Soundcloud account. Advanced students will delve into the complex world of sampling, mixing and automation.