Upper Grade Music Teacher: Mr. Dreyfuss
My weekly class for 4th and 5th graders is an introduction to what I like to call Music with a capital M. By this I mean that Music has it’s own grammar, creators, history, and universal but distinct uses throughout the world. Through singing and listening, upper grade students are introduced to some of the great composers of Western music, and the elements and form they used in creating their compositions.
I’m keen on developing students’ interest in all things musical — be it studying an instrument, or figuring out how to fit the right number of notes into a podcast. In my weekly classes I teach the grammar of music, elements of melody and rhythm, basic theory, and appreciation of music through instructed listening. Students hear music of Bach and Beethoven, but also Steve Reich, John Adams, Anton Webern, and Duke Ellington.
3rd Grade classes are taught separately, and each class is primarily devoted to singing. I draw most of the songs from the great American folk song tradition of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Alan Lomax: folk songs about work, love, and life throughout American history. 3rd graders are also introduced to the music of Asia, the focus of this grade level’s continent for the International Fair in the spring.
ABOUT MR. DREYFUSS:
I attended LAUSD schools from kindergarten through high school. One of my peak musical experiences occurred at Castle Heights Elementary School when Dorothy Miller, the itinerant music teacher who went from room to room with an Autoharp, explained what a fugue was with the help of a set of resonator bells and a recording of Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor arranged for full orchestra. It began a lifelong love of “classical” music for me, a love I try to share with my students.
I earned my Mus.B. degree in composition and piano from Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and an A.B. in Theater from Oberlin College. Additionally, I attended Graduate School at USC’s Thornton School, and the Aspen Music Festival.
I’ve composed all kinds of music: chamber music, pop songs, and theater music for productions in Los Angeles, including a full length musical. One of my pieces was even performed at an opera festival in Germany.
For many years I assisted as an accompanist in the Suzuki Program at the Colburn School.
I’ve also been an actor for the past thirty years, and have appeared in a wide variety of movies and television shows, although theater has always been my first love.
I came to Ivanhoe as a parent in 2002, and began assisting in the various musical performances throughout the school year. Since 2011 I have been the upper grade music teacher, meeting with classes on Fridays. I also coordinate the performances for the annual Winter Program, and the International Faire, held in the spring.
Listening to classical music can be a challenging experience, even for adults. I try to give children the tools to listen to and appreciate music composed in the great Western tradition, from Bach and Beethoven all the way to George Gershwin and John Adams. And along the way there’s a great deal of World Music as well! Below is a partial list of music my students will hear:
Adams: Short Ride on a Fast Machine
Bach: “Little” Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578
“Great” Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542
Beethoven: Allegretto from Symphony #7
Bernstein: Overture to CANDIDE
Brahms: Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Chavez: Sinfonia India
Elgar: “Enigma” Variations
Reich: Different Trains
In my classes, students experience making music primarily through singing. I teach a wide variety of songs, from American “Pop” songs like RED RUBBER BALL and WINDY, to songs popularized by Pete Seeger (I accompany on the banjo) in the Hootenanny Songbook and the Great American Songbag of Carl Sandburg. Ivanhoe believes that participating in public performance is a vital part of a child’s education, and so EVERYBODY SINGS. No hiding. No kidding.
There are two principal performances for all students, the Winter Holiday Program, and the spring International Faire. During the year, individual classes may also perform songs during monthly morning assemblies.
I’m particularly interested in students who study instruments outside of school, and I look for opportunities to showcase these skills in school performances.
THE IVANHOE POPS (AND MOMS)
The Ivanhoe Pops is the volunteer parent band that accompanies the Winter Holiday Program, and various other performances during the school year. If you’re a parent and play an instrument and interested in participating, please contact me about opportunities to perform with the students! There’s nothing more satisfying than having children accompanied by their parents. We have had a small band with as many as ten musicians so far, and we are always looking for string, wind, and brass players. If interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE IVANHOE SONG
Below you will find the lyrics to the Ivanhoe School Song.
Listen to Example #1 below to learn the basic melody of the song:
There are three separate parts for the chorus of “Ivanhoe” toward the end of the second verse. Listen to the three parts in the Example #2 below, then try singing with them. 5th graders sing the Number #1 part, 4th graders sing the #2 part, and 3rd graders sing the #3 part. Kindergartners and 1st and 2nd grades sing all the “Ivanhoes,” as in Example #1.
Now, try singing along with the whole school (this was recorded at the Holiday Program in 2014)!