Elementary Music Room Chorales a Community

Story by Rylee Robinson

Sandy Miller stands in front of her classroom as they snap along to the beat of a song.

Students from Sandy Miller’s class mimic her actions as they sing along to a song.

At Timber Ridge Elementary, students in Sandy Miller’s music classes are learning much more than keeping a steady beat.

From the beginning of kindergarten; students start out at a very basic level of learning rhythm, and how to sing songs. In first grade, these skills are then combined.  As students progress in age and grade, so does their mastery of music. By fifth grade, students have learned a wide array of music vocabulary, the distinction between different sounds and singing techniques, and have gained an appreciation for the art of music.

“Every student can be successful in music,” said Miller. “They can feel the beat and rhythms and mimic even if they don’t fully comprehend the logistics.”

Through Miller’s stories and taking an active role in learning the history of their musical work, students stay engaged and focused. Miller said students often work in teams to analyze parts of songs to see what they can do to improve the sound. Continually working in teams, moving, and playing allows the students to communicate with each other and find what they are passionate about.

Miller has worked for the Johnston Community School District for fifteen years and through this she is able to get to know the students and their families.

“With the way Johnston sets up the music program, I am able to work with the students continually for five years, it allows me to build trust with them,” said Miller. “This trust then translates to the class and makes it like a community. We’ve got great kids, and through praise and practice you can really motivate them.”

For Miller and her students, music goes beyond the classroom. Her goal is for music to be a part of her students’ everyday lives and for them to continue their love of it after leaving Timber Ridge.

“I want my students to be able to go to a concert and enjoy it in a way where they know what it means to be a performer, to feel the beat of the song when they dance at their wedding, and to sing their children lullabies,” said Miller. “Music is a part of your soul, it allows you to connect emotionally. When you see the students click with a piece, it simultaneously builds a community. It’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else.”

From learning history, listening to the classics, connecting through music, and developing emotionally and socially, Miller is helping shape the students of Timber Ridge for a music-filled life.