Arts Enhancement Update!

RHS Arts Enhancement Update

by Bethany Gladhill, Vice Presidentwe-value-the-arts


Why is the PTA focusing on arts this year?

Obviously, the loss of a music program has hit us all hard. But the PTA also feels, that in a school like Randolph Heights, the important benefits of arts education strongly bolster the strong work being done in our classrooms.

The Music Makes Us Whole group, of which SPPS is a partner, has some strong points to make about arts in education:

  • Arts education focuses on teamwork, communication, problem-solving.
  • Music training can assist in creating a better learner and help reduce the achievement gap.
  • 9 out of 10 American adults believe the arts are part of a well-rounded education.
  • Ability to keep a beat and match rhythm patterns is linked to early reading skills for preschoolers. Benefits persist through high school.
  • Music training for students stimulates nearly every region of the brain, strengthening those regions used for complex math and abstract-thinking skills.

 (Sources: Northwestern University; University of Kansas; Royal Conservatory of Music; Toronto; Gardiner, Fox, Jeffrey and Knowles, Nature; Harris Interactive/MENC, Americans for the Arts).


MIOSM Logo Final Candidate v3 OPTION 3Music

For this year, we are contracting with Stephanie Bowron to create and implement a music curriculum in every classroom from January to June. The cost of the investment in this music initiative is approximately $5,000.

Stephanie has taught high school English and Journalism, but has been working with preschoolers-6th graders for the past few years in a programming role that included a lot of classroom teaching. Her three children went to Randolph Heights, and she has always been involved in music at the school. In the years before the school had a formal music teacher, Stephanie created a more basic curriculum that she and other volunteers taught at Randolph Heights, which is how the school’s staff identified her as a person who might be ideal for this project. You might know her already as the accompanist for many of the school’s musicals. Stephanie loves music and feels that compared to teaching other things, teaching music is like handing out candy: students gobble it up. She has yet to meet a student who doesn’t find joy and/or solace in some form of music.

Each classroom will receive eight interactive music lessons based on Core Knowledge standards and enriched with media, instruments, and an expanded world music scope. The time periods and genres of music at each grade level relate to other things students are learning in their Core Knowledge studies.

The Core Knowledge curriculum includes understanding and applying the language of music (tempo, pitch, dynamics, rhythm, etc); notation (understanding and eventually reading basic printed music); listening to and understanding pieces of early, classical, world, and contemporary music and their composers; becoming familiar with all kinds of instruments and how they work, including the voice; making music with instruments and voices as a group; moving to music and experiencing it physically.

  • Curriculum and lessons are age-specific, and lessons vary in content, but here’s a sampling:
  • Kindergarten lesson six: Review musical terms through interactive warm-up games, introduce the story of Camille Saint-Saens, listen to selections from “Carnival of the Animals” and interact with them by moving like the animals they represent, then discuss and show the instruments used to make the sounds we’re hearing.
  • Third grade lesson three: Review the orchestra and introduce the brass family, then learn about how those instruments are played and what they sound like by listening to the “William Tell Overture,” Trombone Shorty, “Horn Concertos,” and Miles Davis. Use various sizes and diameters of flexible tubing to understand how differences in dimensions affect the sound, and use plumbing joints as mouthpieces so students can try to ‘buzz’ into a mouthpiece and make the tubing into an instrument.
  • Fifth grade lesson two: Create a musical timeline from prehistoric music to current artists using audio and visual samples from music through history. Review music terminology and then use that language to describe similarities and differences among the samples across the spectrum of musical expression. Use classroom instrument sets to try to mimic what we hear; discuss which forms of music are easier and more complex to create and reproduce, and why that is.

Stephanie is devising this curriculum and will teach it this year. She’ll also work with the teachers to be able to determine grading based on the standards.

This won’t be an answer for every year. But it fills in this year, and gives us a standard and curriculum for the future.



Though the first focus of the PTA was on music, we also became aware of a unique residency opportunity with the Northern Clay Center, who works with several other schools in the area. Though our visual arts program is good, with no kiln we currently have no clay opportunity. Northern Clay was able to offer us matching funds for a whole-school clay project in February and March, which we hope will become an annual part of our curriculum.

  • The Northern Clay instructor will work with every grade in the school over a period of 6 weeks. Classes will be multi-disciplinary, linking clay classes to curricula in other subject areas (math, science, social studies, etc.), and will supplement existing art classes.
  • The residency includes in-service training sessions for teachers.
  • It provides opportunities for children to learn an accessible and rewarding art form; successful residency experiences can have a positive effect on children’s performance in other areas.

The partnership with Northern Clay Center is around $6,000, but, with our grant, the cost will come out near $3,000 for RHS. We will update this article with the final cost once it is confirmed.

Learn more about the Northern Clay Center at or at


If you have any questions about these arts enhancement partnerships, or any questions about the work of the PTA, we invite you to reach out to us any time at or directly at the contact emails listed on the contact page. Thank you for supporting the RHS PTA and helping us make a difference for our students!

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