NOTES DA CAPO - By John Puffenbarger
February 1995

(Note - This is the last of a series of articles about the 1923 Course of Study issued by the West Virginia State Department of Education.)

In 1983, Roy Truby, State Superintendent of Schools in West Virginia stated "West Virginia schools have the obligation to provide quality education for all of our young people. This cannot be accomplished without recognizing the role that music plays in the balanced curriculum".

During the 1980's, learning outcomes for music classes were developed under the leadership of the WV County Music Directors Association and Dr. Jeanne Moore, Coordinator of Music, State Department of Education.

Music teachers in 1923 were also concerned about improving opportunities for young people to achieve the musical objectives which contributed to the goals outlined in the Course of Study developed that year. Listed below are excerpts from that booklet.

FIRST GRADE - The basis of all music work in this grade is the rote song. Through it we give the child a musical experience and lay the foundation for the melodic and rhythmic instincts. The entire song should first be sung by the teacher in as perfect a manner as possible, then learned by the class, phrase by phrase. Children should sing softly in the quality which is obtained by singing "loo" on upper E Flat or D, this quality being carried down through the lower tones. With light head tone, children cannot sing too low.

SECOND GRADE - Rote song work should be continued throughout the year. Strive, for a more artistic rendering and a more beautiful tone quality. The compass should be not higher than G in the space above the staff to E flat on the first line. If music representation has not been introduced in the first grade, it may be begun in this grade. Explain lines and spaces.

THIRD GRADE - Rote singing should be continued, many of the songs being taught with books in the hands of the children. Sight singing should be by phrase rather than note to note. Use quarter and eighth notes as the beat notes. Teach how to find "do" from the last sharp or flat, and introduce pitch names.

FOURTH GRADE - Rote singing is continued but in far less proportion. Teach keys from the position of "do". Musical terms should be explained as they occur. Two-part singing may be introduced if the class is exceptionally good. The beat and a half note is the new time problem.

FIFTH GRADE - Special attention should be given to the development of the boy's voice and the production of the round flute-like tone of the head voice. Begin two-part work, if it has not been, introduced in the fourth grade, the parts being interchangeable. The minor mode may be introduced. Finish the study of chromatics which were started in the fourth grade and teach the chromatic scale.

SIXTH, SEVENTH AND EIGHTH GRADES - The class should aim for distinct enunciation, good tone, quality and correct interpretation of songs. Continue the minor mode, and learn the different forms of the minor scale. Three part singing is a new feature of this year's work. Begin testing voices. Children may begin to compose short melodies.

(Thanks to Kathryne Williams of Beckley for sending background information on the Course of Study. Please send historical information to John L. Puffenbarger, WVMEA, Historian, P.O. Box 6, Buckhannon, WV 26201)