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Lincoln Elementary School restarts music education in its lower grades

Regular music instruction has returned for students in kindergarten through third grade this year at Lincoln Elementary in La Crescenta, and on Friday, a group of third-grade students headlined a melodious flag ceremony.

The third-graders performed two songs — "Merrily, We Roll Along" and "Hot Cross Buns" — in the school's cafetorium in front of parents and teachers.

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"The kids that are performing are really excited," Principal Stephen Williams said the day before the performance. "Matter of fact, I went over there to see them practice, and the kids were just jumping with excitement to be able to do this."

The short program marked the return of regular music instruction for students in kindergarten through third grade at Lincoln Elementary.

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Seventeen Lincoln Elementary School kindergarten through third graders got the distinguished Honesty Trustworthyness Award for February during the flag ceremony at the school in La Crescenta on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.
Seventeen Lincoln Elementary School kindergarten through third graders got the distinguished Honesty Trustworthyness Award for February during the flag ceremony at the school in La Crescenta on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

While music education for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade upper-grade students is supported by Glendale Unified, it's funded by grants and support from the school community for students in the lower grades.

Previously, students in kindergarten through third grade took music classes occasionally during a six-week period.

"It was sporadic in how it was taught," Williams said. "They didn't get a whole year and didn't have continuity, which is important to kids."

Then, the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School Foundation, the school's parent-led support group, applied for and received a $1,500 grant from the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, an all-volunteer nonprofit that has doled out more than $20 million in gifts and grants to support music and educational programs since 1948, according to its website.

Lincoln Elementary School third-graders play recorders at the direction of second and third grade teacher Greg Mooshagian during the flag ceremony at the school in La Crescenta on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.
Lincoln Elementary School third-graders play recorders at the direction of second and third grade teacher Greg Mooshagian during the flag ceremony at the school in La Crescenta on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Attending the flag ceremony at Lincoln Elementary were Dana Marevich, chairwoman of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts, and Eileen Reilly, former chairwoman of the organization.

The Lincoln school foundation also raised funds through a jogathon and silent auction, said Wendy Tateishi, the foundation's vice president, whose son participated in Friday's performance.

Now, all students in kindergarten through eighth grade have about 30 minutes of music education each week.

"It was unfortunate that, as a second-grader, he really didn't have any exposure to music," Tateishi said. "We wanted to bring it back to our children. They really respond to it."

The instruction is also inclusive — general education students as well as those with special needs all have access, Williams said.

"Our goal is to have our primary students build an appreciation for music and develop a competency for basic music," Williams said. "They get to play with some little instruments throughout the grade levels, prepping them for instrumentals in fourth grade."

Williams said the regular music instruction will also touch on principles of Common Core, the new state standard which emphasizes developing critical thinking and problem solving over rote memorization.

"Common Core is simply learning the skills and applying them," Williams said. "Music really engages the student in learning … It's very tangible."

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Brian Park, brian.park@latimes.com

Twitter: @TheBrianPark

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