Welcome to Mount Pilchuck Elementary, where we all are empowered and equipped to be tomorrow's leaders today. My name is Mary Beth Kurtenbach the Music Education Specialist here at Mount Pilchuck Elementary. People often tell me that they do not have music ability, but I believe we all do. We all have potential to make music, we just need to take the time and find opportunities to cultivate it.
In my music classroom I work with our students through hands on music making. While your child is in public school learning math, reading, writing, and other core subjects, he or she certainly has what it takes to learn music: a core subject. All it takes is effort and an engaging music class. In my classroom students not only develop their singing voices; music education is much more than that. Instrument learning is as important in music making and benefits the whole child. An example of this would be drum instruction. Students learn drum patterns and how to play as part of a drum ensemble on our full class set of Tubanos. Playing drums also helps students to strengthen eye hand coordination, reinforces a rhythmic vocabulary, and teaches them respect and leadership. Students in primary grades learn to play non-pitched hand held instruments, drums, ukuleles, Orff Schulwerk on xylophones, and singing in rounds. Starting in third grade students complete their ukulele instruction with a ukulele concert and then work on recorder karate, learning nine songs for nine recorder belts and how to play recorder as an ensemble. They also work on drumming, singing, and they begin marimba instruction. Fourth and fifth grade instruction includes extensive drumming, marimba ensemble work, guitar instruction, composing, music history, and choral work. During a typical week your child will receive music instruction twice a week for 30 minutes each session.
Our Concerts are held at the Lake Stevens High School Performing Arts Centers on 2908 113th Ave NE, Lake Stevens. The schedule for the 2017-2018 School Year is as follows:
December 5: Third Grade Ukulele Concert at 6:30 p.m./ Fourth Grade Marimba Concert at 7:30 p.m.
March 13: Kindergarten Singing Concert at 6:30 p.m./Second Grade Xylophone Concert at 7:30 p.m.
May 15 First Grade Singing and Movement Concert at 6:30 p.m./Fifth Grade Concert at 7:30 p.m.
For concert dress, students may wear their picture day best and no hats. The exception to the hat rule would be the December Holiday concert. Students may wear holiday hats that are not oversized or distracting. In fifth grade, historical concerts which involve character costumes might include hats but other than that, no hats at concerts.
In order for students to be able to play instruments at the concerts, I always need parent support in transporting instruments in vehicles to the PAC before the concert. This occurs at 3:45 p.m. right after school on the day of the concert. Then I need support transporting instruments back to my portable after the concert. A note requesting support will come home in Wednesday folders weeks before the concerts. I appreciate the countless parent volunteers who have helped out with transporting instruments over the years.
A before school club I teach is the fifth grade Marimba Meerkat Band. The sign-ups for this band were Spring of 2017. We kick off the year with a marimba camp the last week of August. Marimba Band is a big commitment all year and play for special events throughout Lake Stevens. Our Marimba orchestra and tubano drums are funded through teaching and learning grants I write through Lake Stevens Education Foundation and through our generous Mount Pilchuck PTA. These beautiful instruments add rich texture to our xylophone orchestra. All students benefit from these phenomenal instruments.
This year we will also be having a Talent Show Friday February 23rd in the Mount Pilchuck Elementary Gym. First Grade Teacher Joni Peterson and I will have information going home on that in December. So have your child be thinking of their best talent. Students in my Fall Session of Sharpen the Paw Sound System and Lighting Workshop will be running lights and sound for the Talent Show.
As for my personal information and teaching background, I am getting older so my history gets longer each year! I am married to my Boeing engineer Jeff Kurtenbach and we have two beautiful daughters, Lizzi who is a Project Manager for Bank of New York Mellon in Tacoma, and Clara who is the Music Education Specialist at West Mercer Island Elementary. We are very proud of our daughters' accomplishments and...Lizzi just became engaged to her boyfriend Anthony. We will have wedding bells next August.
My educational background began with a Bachelors of Arts in Vocal Performance through Northern Arizona University. My desire was to become a professional opera singer. This included a vocal internship at Chatauqua Summer Arts in Chuatuaqua, New York and studies with various vocal instructors in preparation for the next step to opera land...a masters. Before pursuing my Masters in Vocal Performance at Eastman School of Music in New York, I realized that I would not be happy pursuing an operatic career. I grew up in a family of Public School Educators and spent a lot of time in my mother's first grade classroom. As a teen I even taught Sunday School at my church and I really loved teaching kids. Fortunately I turned my direction back to Elementary Education. Having been absorbed in vocal repertoire for eight years and needed a change. I came back home to Arizona, married Jeff and received my Elementary Education Certification from Northern Arizona University. We then found jobs in the Seattle area. My teaching position was as a third grade teacher in the Everett School District. While there I was amazed at the music education at that school. The students were using Orff instruments to learn music and playing recorders. Here I had a heavy vocal training all my life. Teaching children hands on music through xylophones, drums, recorders, and singing really struck a chord! After three years in public education I left my position to start a family and a reading readiness preschool.
During the next 12 years we raised our daughters and I ran a preschool that morphed into absolute fun! I took Kodaly Classes, Orff Certification, a work shop with Edwin Gordon, and various other classes with a desire to be a music educator. My preschool became a multi-faceted school with heavy emphasis on Music, Math, Science, Dance, Art, and reading lots of stories to children. At the end of those 12 years my family was ready for me to re-enter public school. Hoping for a music position in Lake Stevens School District, I landed a kindergarten position at Glenwood for five years instead. Then I transferred to 4th and 5th grade. It was great to learn the curriculum at these different grade levels and integrate music into my classrooms. When the Mount Pilchuck Elementary Music Education position opened up in 2010 I happily transferred. Since then I have earned my Masters in Music Education through Central Washington University. I am certified to teach K-12 Music and K-8 Elementary and Secondary Education.
The National Music Core Arts Standards with the Frameworks of Create, Perform, Respond and Connect are layered into my teaching everyday along with parts of the Common Core Language Arts standards to support my students in thinking critically and deeply about their music making. In Music on our Mountaintop, your child will develop basic music skills and learn music elements more deeply with each passing year. Part of their music making includes listening to excellent music, singing, acting, and playing music on authentic instruments.
Plato once said: "Music give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything!" Music is one of many great programs at Mount Pilchuck that breathes life into our school!
I look forward to teaching your children this year.
Mary Beth Kurtenbach
Music Education Specialist
Mount Pilchuck Elementary