Our Music Programs- District Highlights and Celebrations
Westbrook Music Programs and Experiences PK-12
Dear Westbrook Schools Community,
It is with great excitement that we share our love of and commitment to music education in all three of our wonderful schools. In this edition of Westbrook School Community: Highlights and Celebrations, we introduce you to our amazing music educators, share our music experiences PK-12, and celebrate our students’ growth and learning.
We take pride in our music programs here in Westbrook. Music education is a critical part of the high-quality educational experiences for our students- learning so much more than how to sing and how to play an instrument throughout their musical experiences in Westbrook. The National Association of Music Education (NAFME) highlights the key areas we value as a school community and how our students benefit throughout their journey in music classes, ensembles, clubs, and activities PK-12 that transcends the music program to positively impact all areas of their educational experiences: language and reasoning; self-management and improvement through personal growth and goals; increased coordination; a sense of achievement; engagement; success; emotional development; fine-tuned auditory skills; pattern recognition; imagination and intellectual curiosity; creative economy; creative thinking; spatial intelligence; teamwork; responsible risk-taking; and improved self-confidence.
We celebrate our music educators- their commitment and passion- and share with you our music learning experiences and programs here in our schools PK-12.
With much appreciation and gratitude,
Kristina J. Martineau, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Westbrook Public Schools
To view our music curriculum and PK-12 Music Philosophy Statement, please visit www.westbrookctschools.org and click on Departments and then click on the Curriculum and Instruction (Teaching and Learning) section. The curriculum is organized by content area and then grade level.
Westbrook High School
Principal: Tara Winch
The Westbrook High School Music Program continues to thrive. We have an active and robust program that offers a diverse selection of vocal and instrumental opportunities for our students. We value music as a central component of a student's education and believe that exposure to and participation in some aspects of music education promotes academic skills, self-confidence, and creativity.
Our Music Staff at Westbrook High School
Mr. Frederick “Eric” Gerhardt has been the Instrumental Music Director at Westbrook High School for 22 years conducting the Concert and Jazz Bands. Additionally, Mr. Gerhardt teaches Acoustic Guitar, UCONN ECE Music Theory, UCONN ECE Music Appreciation, and The History of Jazz and Rock & Roll. He has previously served as Chairman for CMEA Southern Region and All-State Jazz Ensemble. Mr. Gerhardt earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Ithaca College ‘95, and his Master of Music degree in Trumpet Performance from the Manhattan School of Music ‘98. Mr. Gerhardt’s freelance music career enabled him to work with members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, American Brass Quintet, and more. He has performed with such groups as the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Jupiter Symphony, Westchester Symphony, Riverside Symphony, Bronx Philharmonic, and the Virginia Symphony. He also has recorded for TV and radio and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and on Broadway. In Connecticut, he has performed with the New Haven Symphony, Orchestra New England, Bridgeport Symphony, Stamford Symphony, the Goodspeed Opera, the Mohegan Sun Casino Orchestra, and the Shoreline Jazz Collective. Mr. Gerhardt received numerous honors and awards as a performer and educator including the 1995 Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award, 1998 John C. Clark Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Brass Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, three-time Finalist in the New York Brass Conference Quintet Competition, Finalist for the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and Finalist in the National Trumpet Competition.
Our new Choir Director, Anastasia Littlefield, comes to WHS with over 25 years of piano and voice experience. She is an award-winning music director, music teacher, and professional pianist. At Connecticut College she studied music education and specialized in keyboard instruments, studying piano, harpsichord, and organ. She performed her senior recital on all three instruments, performing works by Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Bach, Shubert, and an original piano composition. She has worked in both MA and CT as a high school choral director, private piano, voice teacher, and pit pianist for local theaters and high school productions. As music director for Belmont High School’s musical productions, she music directed 9 to 5 and Little Shop of Horrors, during which the ensemble earned Best Choral Ensemble for the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild Awards in 2019 for their performance in Little Shop of Horrors. Anastasia is the choral director at Westbrook High School and is thrilled to be music directing and conducting their upcoming musical, Theory of Relativity, opening in March. She loves getting to share her love of music every day with the students in Westbrook. Currently, she is earning her Masters in Music Education at the University of Florida.
Recent Music Events and Concerts at Westbrook High School
This fall the WHS Music Department had its first in-person Band/Choir Concert: The Fall Festival
Select Singers and Jazz Band added holiday music to the Tree Lighting Festivities.
Music Performances in Late Winter/Spring 2022
Tuesday, February 15th, the WHS Music Department presented its Small Ensemble concert to include Jazz Band, Select Singers, and Voice class.
Wednesday, March 16th, the WMS/WHS Combined Concert will take place in the WHS Gymnasium
This is an opportunity for 8th grade music students to experience music at the WHS and work with upperclassmen and the WHS Music Staff.
Music Program at Westbrook High School
Music courses include individual and group instruction in performance courses such as Band, Choir, Jazz Band, Beginning Band, Select singers, Voice, Keyboarding, and Acoustic Guitar. In addition, the non-performance courses include UCONN Music Appreciation, UCONN Theory 1 and 2, and the History of Jazz/ Rock and Roll.
The WHS Music Department also promotes participation in the CMEA Southern Regional Competition for both Band and Choir.
Arts, Business and Communications Career Cluster- Music Pathway at Westbrook High School
The Music Pathway provides a combination of academic and elective courses to provide the appropriate education foundation for students pursuing a career in music. The pathway provides students with a recommended pathway for course selection, clubs and activities, and possible internship opportunities before graduation with local and regional area businesses and industry leaders. Pathways are flexible and personalized to meet individual student needs and interests over four years at Westbrook High School.
Westbrook Middle School
Principal: Matthew Talmadge
From the Principal
As a former music teacher and a musician, I deeply appreciate the value of a fine arts education and the quality it can add to the lives of our students. I always say that students only have one chance at middle school education, and we aim to make it the best experience possible. Music is one area where we endeavor to live that philosophy. We have highly trained, professional musicians who are engaging your children in a rigorous, comprehensive musical experience. It is amazing to see and hear the growth in music literacy and capacity in students’ four short years here. Of course, it all starts with the wonderful individuals that are in front of your kids daily.
Kayla Pardue (WMS Instrumental Specialist)
This year, we welcomed a new music faculty member, Miss Kayla Pardue, into the fold. Miss Pardue earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Additionally, she earned a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut in 2020. She comes to us as an experienced educator from Pleasant Valley and Phillip R. Smith elementary schools in South Windsor where she taught both general and instrumental music classes. Prior to that, she had exciting musical opportunities that ranged from rehearsing the University of Connecticut concert band to being named Drum Major for the prestigious "Pride of Connecticut" (The UConn marching band). Miss Pardue mentioned in her letter of introduction to WMS that she believes that "bringing communities and citizens together through compassion and music aligns greatly with Westbrook School District’s goals to provide a safe and supportive learning environment to educate, challenge, and inspire all students to achieve their potential and follow their artistic and intellectual curiosity." Miss Pardue is made to measure for Westbrook Middle School, and we are thrilled to have her on board.
Lynne Floyd (WMS Choral Specialist)
We are so fortunate to have Lynne Floyd heading our vocal music department and, this year, working with our instrumentalists as well. Ms. Floyd has been a staff member at Westbrook Middle School since 2018 and has taught chorus, piano keyboard, general music, band lessons and directs the middle school musical. She is a Summa cum Laude graduate of the University of Connecticut, from which she received dual degrees in Vocal Performance and Music Education. After teaching public school music for two years, Ms. Floyd moved to Phoenix to pursue a Masters degree in Vocal Performance at Arizona State University. While in Arizona, she performed extensively throughout the southwest with both the Royal Renaissance Singers and “Opera-tunity,” a company specializing in introducing opera to children and the general public. She has performed many roles in opera and musical theater. As a concert soloist, Lynne has sung with the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona State Chamber Orchestra, The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and the American Institute for Musical Studies Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria. An accomplished recitalist, Lynne has performed wide varieties of repertoire in many parts of the country. Ms. Floyd is the Music Minister and Handbell Choir Director at Niantic Community Church.
Music At WMS
Students in the choral classroom are working with the S-Cubed curriculum for Sight-reading created by Dale Duncan. Daily activities include a forbidden pattern game, various ear training exercises, work with Kodaly solfege syllables and Curwen Hand Signs, all with the focus of music reading and literacy. Additionally, we work to identify symbols that help us follow the road map that is music notation. Music of varied styles is chosen and prepared for performance at concerts and community events.
This year at WMS, the students have been finding their groove again when it comes to practicing and performing with others. All WMS bands grades 5-8 meet every other day and have been learning different skills and techniques that balance individual responsibility with group effort. Whether it's learning our first notes in 5th grade, playing faster tempos in 6th grade, experiencing altered scales and pitches in 7th grade, or even playing an exposed solo in front of their peers in 8th grade, our students are realizing how important each and every musician is to the whole group. This year has helped us set goals when it comes to individual preparation of music so that the team of musicians can be successful. We have so much to look forward to in the area of performance for every group at WMS, and the students are putting their new tools to work to achieve (and exceed) even their own expectations! To walk by the music room at WMS is to hear cheering, clapping, and celebrating when the music starts to come together. As American musician Mike Dirnt once said, "music is the closest thing we have to magic," and it certainly feels that way in the presence of our young Westbrook musicians.
Students at Westbrook Middle School get a comprehensive music education where they learn music through performance in choir and band. Students have music in their schedule all year long for four years. This enables students to follow an uninterrupted multi-year music curriculum where they will gain valuable skills and learn critical knowledge to be able to flourish as budding musicians. All students in fifth grade (and next year, fifth and sixth) are exposed to band and chorus for a full year. We feel it is important to develop the entire musician prior to their choosing to specialize in either choir or band in later grades. Students have ample opportunity to pursue advanced musical venues as well. Advanced musical ventures include signing up for the Jazz Band, the Advanced Instrumental Music elective, or the Piano elective. Many students who wish to push themselves in music performance choose to audition for the CMEA southern region music ensembles. Some of our students took advantage of this opportunity this year, and we have a few to congratulate.
Congratulations are in order for four students who have been accepted into the Southern Region Middle School Chorus and Band. Students all had to submit video auditions and were adjudicated by professional musicians and music educators. Katie F (Chorus)., Natalia L.(Chorus), Cooper W. (Chorus) and Reagan Z. (Band) will all be working hard to learn their music for the festival in March.
Additionally, congratulations to Madigan K. who was selected to perform with the Connecticut Honors Band at the Connecticut Music Educators Conference in late March. This performing ensemble is made up of young musicians from around the state in grades 4-6. These students were chosen by demonstrating excellent musicianship, a passion for learning, and dedication to advancing on their instrument.
What is Coming Up at WMS?
The music department is gearing up for our 8th Grade Band and Chorus students who will be performing in March with the High School Band and Chorus. They have begun music preparation and are looking forward to this event. More details about the concert will be released closer to the date, so look for messages from Miss Pardue and Ms. Floyd.
Finally, the music department has begun the process of choosing and learning music for the spring concerts in the 6th and 7th Grades. 5th Grade students are playing music from their lesson book, and their musicianship is growing by leaps and bounds. Ask any of your students to play for you. We are certain you will be impressed with their growth.
Students at WMS, do only have one chance at a middle school experience. Music is a shining example of how we aim to make it the best experience possible.
Daisy Ingraham Elementary School
Principal: Ruth W. Rose
We are so pleased to offer a robust music curriculum to all students in Grades Pre-K through Grade 4, through our daily “Specials” rotation. Students have the opportunity to learn about music and to make music, both vocally and through the use of instruments. Our children experiment with instruments including: “Boom Whackers,” xylophones, recorders, ukuleles, drums, etc., and also create music electronically. Students learn to sing and hear music effectively through the Solfege system, which uses neutral syllables for every pitch like “do, re, mi.” Our Music Room is a busy, happy, wonderfully noisy section of our building and is a bright spot in the day for many of our students!
Our Music Staff at Daisy Ingraham Elementary School
We are very fortunate to have Jennifer Bellizzi Kowalski with us as our Music Teacher at Daisy. Mrs. Kowalski earned a B.S. in Music Education in 2012 from Central Connecticut State University. While she was there, she specialized in the alto saxophone and participated in many musical ensembles such as the CCSU Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, and Choir. Mrs. Kowalski was also a member of the CCSU Blue Devils Marching Band where she was Drum Major for three years. Mrs. Kowalski returned to her alma mater in 2016, where she earned her M.S. in Educational Technology. Mrs. Kowalski enjoys making music outside of the classroom whenever she can. She’s been teaching herself to play the ukulele for the past few years and still enjoys playing her alto saxophone with the Waterford Community Band.
Music Experiences in the Classroom PK-4
Preschoolers in the Daisy music room work on exploring the basic elements of music. They’ve been enjoying activities centered around finding and practicing using a singing voice, moving to music, and keeping a steady beat.
Kindergarteners work hard to build on the knowledge they gained in preschool music. They participate in game-based activities where they can use their singing voices, practice steady beat and simple rhythms on percussion instruments, and of course–dance!
In first-grade music, students begin reading and writing simple music notation using notes and rhythms on the music staff. They apply their new music literacy skills to read and write down songs they know and love. Some first-grade favorites include Lemon Store and Hot Cross Buns!
Second graders at Daisy are currently working on a World Music unit that involves dancing, singing, and playing percussion instruments. They’ve learned about the music and cultures of far-away countries such as Ecuador, Russia, Denmark, and more!
Students in third-grade music get the opportunity to dive deeper into instrumental music. Traditionally, third graders have learned to play the recorder along with ukuleles and various percussion instruments. In lieu of recorders this year, students have been learning a variety of songs on xylophones instead.
Fourth graders have the opportunity to combine many of the music skills they’ve been working on since they were small preschoolers and kindergarteners. They apply their music literacy skills in a composition unit, combining singing and instrumental music with the use of ukuleles, xylophones, and other percussion instruments, and traditionally have the opportunity to showcase their hard work and talents at a spring concert.
Music Events and Concerts at Daisy Ingraham
We moved our famous Winter Sing-Along outside this year and this amazing concert took on a life of its own! Our students and staff enjoyed welcoming in the winter season with songs and dances that many have asked that this outside venue become a new holiday tradition. All students and staff were involved in the vocal concert with students dancing with colorful scarves and adults demonstrating the “five golden rings” in the Twelve Days of Christmas.