The elementary music program at Burke's involves every girl, encouraging the development of her inherent musicianship and love of music. Burke's understands the vital role music plays in the growth of the whole child: its contributions to the intellectual, emotional, social and physical realms of learning. Through active "hands-on" music-making, each girl is given a wide variety of experiences in which to learn about, appreciate and prepare for a life-long involvement in the performing arts, as both performer and appreciative, knowledgeable audience.

Music is part of the fabric of everyday life at Burke's. Music often is integrated with classroom themes and subject areas. Whole school events and assemblies are times for singing and dancing, drawing the community together. Music is used to welcome the year, celebrate events, honor passages in time; spontaneous singing is often heard as you walk the school grounds.

Each Lower School class has music twice a week in the cozy and delightful Lower School Music Room. Just entering the room is a treat: seeing shelves filled with instruments from around the world, specially designed "Orff" instruments, and of course, the Burke's Chinese Lions! During any given music session there are a variety of activities-a circle dance might be followed by a singing game, which may then lead into a music reading activity at the staff board. The girls might explore a poem brought from their classroom by creating a movement piece or choosing instruments to illustrate it. Another day they may accompany a song with body percussion and then transfer the rhythm to xylophone.

The strands of activity styles and curricular standards are woven together over the course of the year. The teacher's art is in balancing and building a "spiral curriculum" that strengthens, refines and introduces new skills and understandings through the years. This "spiral curriculum" draws from a variety of music pedagogies, including the Orff and Kodaly approaches.

The Orff philosophy of music and movement education (Orff-Schulwerk) is a multi-dimensional approach using speech and poetry, movement and dance, drama and song, improvisation, and work with basic instruments. It begins with what is natural to the child: chants, clapping games, folk songs and dances. Direct experience - imitation and exploration — builds concrete skills for improvisation, which then leads to composition and notation. Through cooperative ensemble work, creative thinking and invention, unique musical experiences are shaped from the responses and abilities of the children.

The Kodaly viewpoint places singing at the foundation of musical development. Its philosophy proposes that a clear, sequential musical development in the formative years will foster lifelong skills in singing, literacy and notation, and appreciation. Kodaly believed that for a child's music education "only the best is good enough." 
At Burke's, our best means that music and dance from many cultures, time periods and styles are used throughout the curriculum. Music is chosen and classes designed in alignment with the National Standards for Music as well as the California Standards. Materials used to develop musical skills also strengthen fine and gross motor skills, visual and auditory memory, and intellectual and creative understandings. Each student contributes according to her own ability in a supportive and nurturing environment where the rewards include a growing confidence in one's individual skills and the pleasure of making music with others.

Department Specialist

List of 1 members.

  • Lisa Mandelstein 

    Lower School Music
    415.751.0187, ext. 322
    University of Kansas - Bachelors of Music Therapy
    University of Kansas - Bachelors of Music Education

List of 5 items.

  • Kindergarten

    Each kindergarten group participates in two 30-minute music sessions per week in the cozy Burke’s Lower School (LS) Music Room. The students dance, imagine, sing, play, laugh and learn as they explore music through a variety of games, percussion instruments, folk dances and listening selections. Additionally, they  join in the community singing and dances that are a vital part of weekly LS assemblies; all-school celebrations for Halloween, Diwali and Thanksgiving; the LS Holiday Sing Along; and other spontaneous gathering times that arise throughout the year.

    Each spring the kindergarten parents are invited for a special morning of music making. This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to not only see their daughter in musical action but to join with her in singing, dancing and creating a unique musical experience guided by the music specialist. Parents often comment not only on the depth, breadth, and thoughtfulness of the classroom experience, but also on the joy and playfulness that shines throughout!

    KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM and SKILLS:

    Building musical readiness through discovering CONTRASTS:

    *  Loud - quiet            * fast - slow            * high - low
    *  Steady beat - no beat - rhythm
    *  Accompaniment - a cappella    * whole - part (form)
    *  Instrumental timbres - wood, metal, skins
    *  Singing/speaking/calling/whispering voices; vocal inflection and expression
     
    Learning and Practicing the Conventions of Group Participation:

    *  Use of space - making lines, circles; personal space, moving in space
    *  Taking turns - in speaking, playing instruments, games, song leading
    *  Working with others - holding hands, choosing and changing partners
    *  Taking care of instruments - voice, body, percussion
  • First Grade

    Each first-grade section participates in two 40-minute music sessions per week in the cozy Burke’s Lower School (LS) Music Room. The girls continue dancing, imagining, singing, playing, laughing and learning as they explore music through an expanded variety of games, percussion instruments, folk dances and listening selections. First graders begin to read simple music notation. They are more experienced singers and dancers during weekly LS assemblies and other traditional events such as the Opening All School Assembly, Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations, and the LS Holiday Sing Along.

    Music Sharings: First-grade parents have the opportunity to join their daughter for a morning in the music room. Parents who were able to attend the kindergarten music sharing the year before often comment on how much growth they see: the first graders are reading music from the music staff, singing on their own with freedom and ease, and accompanying themselves with instruments, some handmade in the Burke’s Makery!


    FIRST GRADE CURRICULUM and SKILLS:

    In addition to strengthening and continuing the kindergarten skills, first grade materials are chosen to introduce:

    *  Combining beat and rhythmic concepts; division of the beat
    *  Beginning rhythmic notation (quarter note, eighth note, and quarter rest)
    *  Beginning melodic notation (hand signs and names for so, mi, and la pitches; music
       staff lines, spaces and note placement)
    *  Basic accompaniment skills with a variety of instruments
    *  Concepts of musical form, phrase and pattern (through song, dance)
    *  Expressive elements and a beginning basic music vocabulary

    Integrated themes and projects may include:
    Instruments of the Orchestra with Makery Music Instrument Building and a field trip to the San Francisco Symphony; Space and Oceans (science); SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) and other school-wide projects.
  • Second Grade

    By second grade, Burke’s girls are becoming experienced ‘old-timers’ in the Lower School (LS) Music Room. In the two 40-minute sessions each week, they continue to develop their music reading and learn new games, dances, songs and instrumental pieces that will challenge and build their skills. Second graders are active singers at the weekly LS assemblies, in the LS Holiday Sing Along, and in other gatherings throughout the year.

    Second grade is the first year for the girls to participate in the LS Spring Concert! Past concerts have explored the music of Bali, Ghana, John Henry and the Transcontinental Railroad, and Latin America. Each year the girls are excited to learn what their focus will be! The final concert sharing showcases all the girls’ music skills, ensemble work and imagination.


    SECOND GRADE CURRICULUM and SKILLS:

    In addition to strengthening and continuing the kindergarten and first grade skills, second graders study:

    *  Augmentation of the beat (half and whole notes)
    *  Pentatonic scale, pitch symbols and patterns (mi, re, do)
    *  Construction of rhythmic patterns for improvisation
    *  Singing rounds and partner songs
    *  Choreographing in small groups to show form and phrase length

    Integrated themes and projects may include:
    Pilgrims and Wampanoags, Three Sisters Corn Songs, Westward Expansion through song and dance, Famous women in music; SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) and other school wide projects that vary from year to year.
  • Third Grade

    The third-grade sections continue with two 40-minute sessions each week in which they further strengthen and expand their skills and musical knowledge. They are active singers (and sometimes leaders) at the weekly Lower School (LS) assemblies, in the LS Holiday Sing Along, and in other gatherings throughout the year. They will participate for a second year in the Second-Fourth Grade LS Spring Concert, with an expanded repertoire that showcases their skills and teamwork. Third grade brings in the Lunar New Year at Burke’s and also at the nearby Richmond District Neighborhood Center with fully developed performances that honor tradition with playful masterful dance, music and theater.


    THIRD GRADE CURRICULUM and SKILLS:
    In addition to strengthening and continuing previous grades’ skills, third graders study:

    *  Introduction to triple meter; sixteenth note rhythms
    *  Pentatonic scale patterns and note names of the treble clef
    *  Contrapuntal texture and expanded accompaniments
    *  Introduction to recorders
    *  Traditional Chinese Lion Dance rhythms and dance (in conjunction with LS Theater)

    Integrated themes and projects may include:
    Native Cultures of California, Chinese and Chinese-American Music (Lion Dance and Music), Recycling (science), SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) and other school wide projects that vary from year to year.
     
    The third grade sections continue with two 40-minute sessions each week in which they further strengthen and expand their skills and musical knowledge. They are active singers (and sometimes leaders) at the weekly Lower School (LS) assemblies, in the LS Holiday Sing Along, and in other gatherings throughout the year. They will participate for a second year in the Second-Fourth Grade LS Spring Concert, with an expanded repertoire that showcases their skills and teamwork. Third grade brings in the Lunar New Year at Burke’s and also at the nearby Richmond District Neighborhood Center with fully developed performances that honor tradition with playful masterful dance, music and theater.


    THIRD GRADE CURRICULUM and SKILLS:
    In addition to strengthening and continuing previous grades’ skills, third graders study:

    *  Introduction to triple meter; sixteenth note rhythms
    *  Pentatonic scale patterns and note names of the treble clef
    *  Contrapuntal texture and expanded accompaniments
    *  Introduction to recorders
    *  Traditional Chinese Lion Dance rhythms and dance (in conjunction with LS Theater)

    Integrated themes and projects may include:
    Native Cultures of California, Chinese and Chinese-American Music (Lion Dance and Music), Recycling (science), SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) and other school wide projects that vary from year to year.
  • Fourth Grade

    In the final year of Lower School (LS) Music, the music class time expands to 90 minutes each week. In the beginning of the year the girls focus on musical leadership as they take on leading the weekly LS assemblies and become singing role models for the younger grades. The fourth grade girls help plan and lead the LS Holiday Sing-Along as narrators and accompanists. They also are the leaders of the LS Spring Concert.

    A strong focus in fourth grade is on playing recorder. The girls receive a soprano recorder of their own that they bring home to practice after successfully playing their first five songs. Through using the instrumental techniques of recorder to work on reading musical notation and explore improvisation, the girls solidify and extend their musical learning, setting a foundation for future participation and growth in Upper School Music and beyond.


    FOURTH GRADE CURRICULUM and SKILLS:

    In addition to strengthening and continuing previous grades’ skills, new concepts include:

    *  Syncopation
    *  Pentatonic and Diatonic melodies in the keys of C and G major; A and E minor
    *  Pitch names of the treble clef and the fingerings for these on the recorder
    *  Two-chord accompaniments
    *  Choreographing in small groups to show rhythm, melody, phrase length, and
       different forms such as rondo, AABB, and theme and variations

    Integrated themes and projects may include:
    Native cultures of California, “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” Sea Chanteys, Songs of the Gold Rush, Songs of the Transcontinental Railroad.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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