For Parents

The Essentials of an Effective Elementary Music Curriculum

By Jesse Preis
The Essentials of an Effective Elementary Music Curriculum.

An effective music curriculum can make teaching and learning music so much more successful. By presenting topics in a way that builds on a student’s previous learning, music studies can be a joyful exploration that fosters confidence and proficiency one step at a time. In this article, we will discuss the key components and best practices of an effective elementary music curriculum.

To enhance your music learning, Hoffman Academy has free sheet music, premium options, and other learning materials – some of which are available in our online store! Discover elementary piano sheet music and other materials in the store now!

Ready to learn all there is to know about the piano? Sign up for Hoffman Academy Premium today to access lesson materials, learning games, and more.

Musical topics taught for the elementary level

At the elementary level, music students need to learn a variety of topics. Music is a complex subject, and so a good foundation in these basic topics is essential for their future progress. Let’s take a look at some of these topics, listed in natural learning order. Each of these elements of music should be supported through practicing songs that utilize them. (An elementary level piano student would typically be a student who is in Hoffman Academy units 1 through 11.) 

  • First off, an elementary level student needs to be familiar with the keyboard. They should learn how the notes are ordered from low to high and get familiar with the pattern of black and white keys. After being introduced to the keyboard, a student can learn their first song! Hoffman Academy’s first lesson provides all of this instruction. Watch it here: Introduction to the keyboard and melody (your first song)
  • From the beginning, a student should learn how to sit correctly and comfortably at the keyboard. Mr. Hoffman discusses this topic here: Introduction to piano posture 
  • To help students read music and fully understand the keys on a keyboard, they should be familiar with the musical alphabet. Learn more about the musical alphabet here: Introduction to the musical alphabet 
  • The next step is to be able to identify the different keys on the piano by letter name. In these videos, the student will learn how to find and use C, D, E on the piano, identify and use F and G, and learn how to find A and B
  • One skill that Hoffman Academy introduces early is improvisation, which is being able to create your own musical ideas on the spot! Improvisation may seem intimidating, but with the right attitude and a little practice it can be fun and easy. Watch this lesson and give it a try: Introduction to improvisation
  • Reading music is a big step forward for a music student. It’s best to start simple, with learning how to sight read repeated notes and steps. This kind of reading focuses on tracking how the notes change or stay the same rather than knowing exactly where they are on the musical staff.
  • Next, the student will learn how to sight read skips, which are notes that are two notes above or below the previous note, as in this video
  • The next step in developing a student’s reading ability is to introduce the Treble and Bass Clef and then the Grand Staff
  • Now that the student understands steps, skips, repeated notes, and has been introduced to the clefs, the student can learn to identify Staff Guide Notes. By learning these a student can learn to read other notes on the staff very quickly.
  • Learning to quickly judge the distance between different notes (intervals) is the next step in learning to read music, and will provide an essential foundation for learning chords. You can learn all about intervals here

How to develop an elementary music curriculum

If you want to develop your own elementary music curriculum, the first step would be to look at curriculums and methods that already exist. Think about the needs of your students and what you want to accomplish, and use that to guide you in choosing what to include in your teaching. When developing Hoffman Academy’s curriculum, Mr. Hoffman was inspired by Kodály, Suzuki, and other music education methods. He chose pieces that were not only fun to play, but that introduced musical skills in a practical, step-by-step way to make learning feel natural.

When developing an elementary music curriculum, it’s important to make sure that the students learn in a fun and engaging way. Include lots of games, experimenting with improvisation, and getting them used to performing in front of others. Music-making shouldn’t be anxiety-inducing, with students always worried about making mistakes. Instead, it should be exciting and mistakes should be treated as a welcome learning experience. At Hoffman Academy, we approach every lesson with an attitude of fun and exploration. 

To access materials and enhance your learning, sign up for Hoffman Academy Premium today!

Elementary music curriculum books 

Elementary music books such as Hoffman Academy’s Units 1 through 11 are all available at Hoffman Academy’s online store. Some books and other materials on the Hoffman Academy website are free to all members. Others are included with premium membership. If you are not a premium member and would still like to purchase one or more of these materials, they are available for a small fee.

Sheet music for the elementary level

At Hoffman Academy, we offer Free Beginner Piano Sheet Music as well as other sheet music for sale at our online store. The free beginner piano music includes easy arrangements of famous tunes such as Ode to Joy, Canon in D, Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, Firework by Katy Perry, the Addams Family Theme and so much more!

To enhance your technical skills, check out our Piano Exercises for Beginners and Best Piano Apps for Beginners! These resources will assist you in warming up on the piano and staying consistent with your practice. Focused and consistent practice is the most important element in learning any instrument.

Now that you have a list of options for an elementary music curriculum and materials that you can learn or teach from, we at Hoffman Academy wish you many enjoyable hours of music making as you choose and learn your favorite pieces. Have a wonderful day and happy playing!

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