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Durham Nucleo’s “Kidznotes @ Middle School” Elective Plan


21st Century Arts Standards and Core Goals

Students’ capacity to create and express themselves through the arts is one of the central qualities that make them human, as well as a basis for success in the 21st century. This is what the Kidznotes Middle School Curriculum is based on. (21st Century Skills for the Arts.) This Partnership advocates for the integration of 21st Century Skills into K-12 education so that students can also advance their learning in core academic subjects.

Focus Areas –  Students will have the opportunity to explore a series of electives at Kidznotes.  These electives will align with and reflect the 21st Century Skills for the Arts.

  1. Creativity – Students will draw on a variety of sources to generate, evaluate and select creative ideas meaningful to turn into personally meaningful products.
  • Demonstrating originality and inventiveness in work.


  1. Leadership and Responsibility – Students will use the arts to inspire others, optimizing the skills of team members through their interpersonal awareness, integrity, and ethical leadership
  • Using interpersonal and problem-solving skills to influence and guide others toward a goal.


  1. Productivity and Accountability – Students will set goals, accept responsibility, and refine their work to meet high standards of excellence and accountability.
  • Demonstrating diligence and a positive work ethic


  1. Social and Cross-cultural Skills – Students work respectfully and effectively with socially and culturally diverse teams or content to increase innovation and quality in their work.
  • Leveraging the collective intelligence of groups when appropriate


  1. Initiative and Self-direction – Students will be motivated, self-directed, and reflective learners, who independently manage their goals and time to continuously improve as artists.
  • Monitoring one’s own understanding and learning needs


  1. Innovation – Students will investigate new processes, implement creative ideas, and revisit traditional ideas to create new and reinterpret existing works of visual and performing arts.
  • Developing, implementing, and communicating new ideas to others


  1. Collaboration – Students will work together effectively to share and accept responsibility, compromise respectfully to reconcile diverse ideas, and accomplish a common goal.
  • Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work



Students will have the opportunity to sign up electives.  These classes are scheduled on Tuesday and Thursdays (Authoring Action on Friday).  Teachers will provide a syllabus that aligns with the above described goals.

Additional programming once a month on Saturday mornings 9am – 9:55am for Middle School Students to include 1-hour engagements and performances with guest artists, faculty ensembles, student performances. (programming TBD)


Fall 2016

Authoring Action Residency Part I with Nathan Ross Freeman – Students will work produce creative writing examples and participate in expressions from their writings.

Broadway and Show Choir with Stephen Pysnik – Students will learn songs and music from Broadway shows and the historical context of these stories.

Let It Go – Cecelia Sidebe – Quiet time  and relaxation to decompress to prepare to transition to rehearsal

Intermediate and Advanced Chamber Ensembles (by audition only) Omar, Lindsay

Supervised Practice with Faculty

Homework Quiet Time


Spring 2017 (to be confirmed)

Authoring Action Residency Part II  with Nathan Ross Freeman – Students will work produce Creative Writing examples and participate in expressions from their writings.

Piano Lab – (Gerry Diamond Piano Method) – Students will learn basic piano technique through the use of fun activities and  songs – Benjamin Evans

Intro to Jazz Improvisation – (by audition only)

Intermediate and Advanced Chamber Ensembles (by audition only) – Students will extend their skill level by mastering more difficult repertoire and playing in small groups.  They will learn presentation and public speaking skills improving their  self confidence to present Kidznotes to donors, stakeholders and students.

Songwriting – TBD

Supervised Practice with Faculty

Homework Quiet Time


Course Descriptions

Authoring Action – The 12 week exploration sessions “ Writing Through the Senses” is a creative, performance art and spoken word writing course.  Students will work as a performance ensemble writing around a common theme that will be collaboratively established by the group.  Students will create music compositions to accompany their written expressions.

Intro to Jazz Improvisation (audition only) –  this course is designed to introduce applied fundamental concepts of improvisation within the jazz idiom to the intermediate player focusing primarily on scalar manipulation, characteristic vocabulary, transcription and critical listening with a peripheral focus on historical recordings and performers.  Students will have practice, composition and transcription assignments with a performance at the end of the semester/year with a live rhythm section.

Show Choir/Musical Theater – During this course, students will learn healthy vocal production through warm-ups, form and identifying parts of a song, expression through singing and movement, stage presence and how choreography enhances story telling in musical theater.

Composition – Composing for Two Voices – this semester long course is designed for advanced students who will learn how to write music for two voices in homophonic and polyphonic textures.  Students will review basic notation and practice writing melodies in various styles.  Though the study of counterpoint, canons and rounds, students will learn how to compose for two voices.  Completed compositions will be performed by students. Study will include single melody, two voices, non harmonic tones, counterpoint, rounds and canons, and free composing.

Let It Go! – students will learn relaxation techniques, mindfulness and sound painting.  Sound painting is the universal multidisciplinary live-composing sign language for musicians actors, dancers and visual artists.  Students will learn the sound painting language and apply it as an expressive tool. They will explore new ways to play and improve skills. Mindfulness is a present-moment awareness technique that will help students improve attention span and manage emotions. Students will also practice breathing exercises that will help manage performance anxiety and stress.


Early Arrival Programming

Homework Quiet Time – students will transition to a quiet space, have a a healthy snack, complete homework, play memory games, note reading worksheets, puzzles, brainteasers or read a book.

Open Practice – students will participate in self-guided practice of scales, rhythm exercises, repertoire and exercises to improve technique, form and build confidence as performers both  alone and with others.

Chamber Music Ensembles – This semester long course is for students who arrive early,  pass audition requirements sight reading requirements.   Students will learn intermediate to advanced repertoire and learn the skills needed to perform as self contained ensembles.

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