Carden School is proud of its serious music and performing arts program which is Directed by Mrs. Cara O’Shea, of Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Because of her background and training, all theory and ear training is Berklee inspired with materials directly from the college itself.
Carden students have gone on to audition for local music programs such as the distinguished Sacramento Children’s Chorus and have not only participated but also won competitions in Skip’s Music Stairway to Stardom Program. Many Carden graduates are pursuing music at Natomas Charter, Rio Americano and Sacramento Waldorf to name a few, with graduates going on to major in music in college.
Private piano and vocal instruction is offered in an after-school enrichment program as students become even more serious about their music education. Carden holds three major performances throughout the academic school year which include professional lighting and sound. Our shows include a wide range of styles from current hits, patriotic songs, country and classic rock, to songs of the 60s. Students study classical pieces as well as pieces sung in Latin and are encouraged to work towards a solo on their principle instrument. Many of our students are piano players and singers. However, we have guitar players and violinists featured as well.
Our school has an outdoor theater as well as two upright pianos in the music room and a variety of percussive instruments.
In the preschool and kindergarten years, we begin to study the note names and values. Preschool participates in the same all-school performances, often stealing the show when featured. From an early age, we talk about breath control when singing, posture and gentle warm-ups. They also learn to read for treble clef and study the basic scale with solfège syllables. Preschool and Kindergarten students study many of the same pieces of music as the entire student body.
1st Grade students learn to play recorders. First grade is traditionally our bell players and are featured in two performances a year on bells. They also warm up vocally before each lesson and learn music theory, focusing on treble clef with ear training lessons.
2nd-4th Grade continue with theory and ear training, but we incorporate the bass clef as well. We study note values and time signatures. They begin to study singing in two part harmonies, usually singing the lead only. Grades 2-6 will “pumpkin carol” at assisted living facilities each Halloween and prepare Halloween themed songs for this purpose.
5th-6th Grades continue with theory, reading for treble and bass clef. They also work on note values in different time signatures. We start to explore the different major and minor keys and key signatures which will prepare them for middle school music. 5th and 6th grade begin to focus on two and three part harmonies.
Middle School Music: The 7th and 8th grade students are expected to be our leaders in music. They each study and complete a music theory book which we work on in class. They study the basics of rhythm, pitch, major and minor scales, intervals, chords and different rhythms and meters such as 6/8. They begin to write harmonies, study transposition and modulation in a song and learn how to prepare a lead sheet. Microphone technique, stage presence and etiquette are also taught. Middle School will also focus on music history. In addition to this, they study ear training and sight singing inspired by Berklee College of Music’s ear training level 1. They are encouraged to take solos and speaking parts. This music program should prepare them well for any music program in high school and beyond.
Sadly music and performing arts is not a top priority in many schools today. Though we are a small school, our music and performing arts program is mighty and our students make us proud as they represent the arts in the community and beyond.