Skip to main content

Castle Pines

Elementary Music (K-5)

Elementary Music at Castle Pines 


Welcome to music at American Academy!




My name is Mr. Nelson and I am so excited to be guiding students through music at American Academy ‘s Castle Pines campus. In my classroom, students will be exploring music through dancing, singing, playing instruments, composing songs, listening to music, and playing games. Although I grew up in Colorado, for the last three years I have called New York City my home, where I worked as a professional musician and actor, all the while missing the classroom.  I know that music touches all of our lives in different ways, and I look forward to helping students grow in their relationship to music through musicianship and music appreciation.


If you are looking for more ways to explore musicianship and the performing arts, students will also have the opportunity to join one of American Academy’s amazing extra-curricular performing arts classes including (but not limited to) dance, theatre, choir, band, and orchestra.


If you have any questions at all, or would just like to say hi, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]




Rotation 1: 

This week in music class, we will begin our explorations of rhythms through rhythm games including Rhythm Wars (a star wars inspired rhythm identification game). Students will also take a music pre-assessment so that we can track our growth in music this year.  Our Composer of the Week is John Williams! Every day as students enter, they will be hear  a new piece of music from one of America’s most recognizable composers. From Jaws, to STAR WARS, to Harry Potter, and the Olympics, John Williams is a composer who knows exactly how to capture a moment with music.

Rotation 2

This week in music class students will continue to explore the rhythms that we touched on in our first rotation, and compose their own songs using the notes we have learned thus far. Students will also practice decoding rhythms with a Halloween rhythm game. Our composer of the week is Jon Batiste, one of America’s most popular and current Jazz musicians. You might recognize Jon Batiste from the Late Show, or from his work on the film Soul. Through the course of the week, we will listen to his interpretations of some classic jazz and soul music, and make connections to our own use of rhythm in music. 

Kindergarten and 1st Grade (Rotations 1-3)

In our first rotation for Kindergarten and 1st grade, we will focus on how music can use emotions and mood. We will practice SQUILT (super quiet uninterrupted listening time) with music by our composer of the week, paying attention to how the music makes us feel. As we move into our second rotation we will learn songs that help us practice keeping a steady beat, and using dynamics (how loud or soft a piece of music is).  We will listen to Haydn’s Symphony no.94: The Surprise Movement, to further explore how dynamics are used by composers. Finally, in our third rotation, we will learn about Camille Saint-Saens and his work The Carnival of the Animals, as we begin to identify strings, woodwinds, percussion, and piano. 

Rotation 3 -  4th and 5th Grade 

This week in music class we will be exploring the musical traditions of China. We will learn about traditional Chinese instruments like the ErHu and the GuZheng. We will improvise as an ensemble using the pentatonic scale and learn how it influenced the sound we associate with Chinese music. Finally, students will use Garageband for iPad to write their own Chinese lullaby, and try their hand at playing a digital ErHu and GuZheng. Our composer of the week is Tan Dun, a Chinese American composer who is most known for his work in film and for his work on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. 

Rotation 3 - 2nd and 3rd Grade 

This week we will begin our journey with the violin. Students will learn all about the various components that give the violin its characteristic sound, and how to care for this precious instrument. We will be learning to read music on the Treble clef so that we may read melodies for the violin. By the end of the week, students will be playing the violin on open strings with a bow, and reading music in the treble clef. 


Rotation 4  |  4th and 5th grade 

This week in music class, students will be applying what we know about rhythm and pitch, and using this to decode music for the piano. Students will have a choice of 8 songs ranging from very easy, to intermediate. Once students have picked their song, they will begin to decode the piece by first writing all the pitches used in the piece, and then by determining which finger should be used to play each pitch. Students will have a “Piano cheat sheet” to aide them in this process. Once students complete these steps they will have time to practice their piece and perform it either privately, or for the entire class. 

Our composer of the week is Vince Guaraldi! Vince Gauraldi is known for his jazz piano arrangements, and for his contributions to various Charlie Brown specials. Gauraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas Album is one of the most popular Christmas albums of all time. He is also known for his latin and bossa nova influences, and signature relaxed piano style. 

Rotation 4 | 2nd and 3rd grade 

This week in 2nd and 3rd grade we will be continuing our exploration of the violin! We will begin to practice our bowing technique as well as our pizzicato technique. Throughout the week we will review our treble clef pitches so that we may read more music for the violin. Finally, we will take a dive into the string instrument family. We will start to look at our other instruments in the family such as: viola, cello, bass, and harp.  

Rotation 4 | Kindie and 1st 

This week in music for Kindergarten and 1st grade, students will explore the difference between beat and rhythm. We will practice keeping a steady beat using body percussion, drumsticks, and marching. One song we will learn this week is “Engine Number Nine”. We will focus on ways to physicalize rhythm, and maintain a steady beat in song.

This week in music, our composer of the week is Dolly Parton! We will be listening to all the greatest hits from “Tennessee Mountain Home” to “9 to 5”. 

4th and 5th grade will be exploring the ukelele. We will focus on how to read and interpret chord diagrams, how to strum to a steady beat, and how to play along to “Stand by Me.” By the end of the week, everyone will be able to play along to a song as a group, and strum their own song solo. 

3rd Grade is focusing on interpreting music for the piano. We will use the tools we covered this year to help identify the pitches and place them on the keyboard with a steady beat. The songs students may pick from are Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the holiday classic “Jingle Bells”, and a fun ballad called “The Cat Came Back.”

2nd Grade is embarking on a MUSIC WARS journey through space. Using their musical Jedi skills, students will solve puzzles and decode BB-8’s secret message in order to locate our missing droid friend. We will also be practicing our ensemble skills through various boomwhacker songs and games. 

Kindergarten and 1st grade will be continuing to strengthen skills on reading and interpreting rhythms. This week will we play rhythms that include quarter notes, eighth notes, and rests.