Pleasant Ridge School District is pleased to be the only District in Nevada County that offers a weekly Classroom Music program with a credentialed music teacher for students in grades K-5 offering students the opportunity to learn music theory, notation, rhythm and learn to enjoy music. Choral Music opportunities continue in grades 6-8 where students may elect to participate in award-winning groups, festivals and related music activities.
Elementary Classroom Music for All Students
Students in grades K-5 are offered classroom music on a weekly basis. All students are introduced to the musical concepts of beat, rhythm, melody, timbre and harmony. As with learning any language, students acquire a vocabulary of rhythm and melody patterns, giving them the building blocks of musical proficiency. As proficiency develops, students are introduced to musical notation and begin to build musical literacy.
Singing is the basis of music learning at all levels, and a wide range of percussion instruments and manipulatives such as scarves, ribbons, parachutes and beanbags are also put to use to demonstrate musical concepts and ensemble play. Anne Vaaler models her K-2 lessons on the “Music Together” model, a nationally recognized early-childhood music program in which she is certified. Singing games, rhythmic chants, echo play, percussion instruments and dance are some of the tools Ms. Vaaler uses to develop musical proficiency. Grades 3-5 work in a more traditional large ensemble setting, covering music from around the world, basic notation and music reading, singing in harmony, the science of music, musical instrument families and performance skills.
Award Winning Choirs at Magnolia Intermediate School
Four choirs are offered at Magnolia Intermediate School, each with it’s own distinct identity. Magnolia’s choirs are well known in the community and many students are given the opportunity to develop both musical and presentational skills. These award-winning choirs participate in many festivals and regularly receive high scores in adjudicated events.
Starmakers is a choir that also dances, known as a Show Choir. This auditioned group is a mixed choir of 30-32 members, singing in three to four parts. These polished performers study traditional choral music as well as pop styles, and present a variety of genres within the “show pop” styles. Students also learn basic dance skills, including ballroom dance etiquette and forms; contemporary and jazz; and basic ballet skills for balance, strength and coordination. Teamwork and self-management are critical performance tools that are acquired here, as students develop the trust and skills necessary to perform at the highest ensemble level.
“Bella Voce” (Beautiful voice) is the Magnolia Girl’s Ensemble. This auditioned group of 32 7th and 8th grade girls concentrates on two and three-part harmony singing, learning styles that vary from Italian opera to contemporary musical theatre, pop and swing. Music literacy is developed as the girls learn to read choral scores, and proper use and care of the
voice is emphasized at all times.
Magnolia Blue is a small ensemble offered through 5th Period Choir, gives interested girls an opportunity to delve into the more individual style of choral jazz.
Anne Vaaler has been directing choirs since she first lined up her dolls, bears and younger siblings and told them to “watch me!” Her original plan, to sing with an opera company in Europe, kept getting sidelined by teaching opportunities until it became clear that ‘home’ was in front of young singers, with her back to the audience. It has been a happy change of paths, and as a teacher she gets many chances to perform with her students! Anne has directed choirs and taught music for the San Francisco Children’s Chorus; the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the San Lorenzo Unified School District; the San Francisco Unified School District, particularly George Washington High School where she directed a choral program of seven ensembles, as well as serving as music director for two theatrical productions each year; and now serves the Pleasant Ridge United School District in Grass Valley, directing four award-winning choirs at Magnolia Intermediate School and teaching general music at all three elementary schools. Like many music teachers, she instructs over 1,000 children every week.
Anne received her B.A. in music from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa where she was fortunate enough to sing in the premier Nordic Choir and work under the direction of choral directors Weston Noble and Craig Arnold. She continued her studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University, completing her teaching credential in music. She is a certified “Music Together” teacher and is a member of MENC-CMEA and ACDA. She has been awarded the California League of Teachers “Outstanding Educator” award, and was honored by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown for her work with the George Washington High School choirs. She has served as a clinician and adjudicator for numerous choral and solo/ensemble festivals, and was part of a People-to-People delegation of music teachers to China in 1998.