Green Bank Elementary-Middle School music teacher Greg Morgan, right, leads fourth grade students in a lesson on quarter notes. Morgan uses the new program Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music with all his elementary school students. S. Stewart photo
Green Bank Elementary-Middle School music teacher Greg Morgan, right, leads fourth grade students in a lesson on quarter notes. Morgan uses the new program Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music with all his elementary school students. S. Stewart photo

The music department at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School has gone digital with Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music, a new music curriculum that is operated online.

The program was developed by Graham Hepburn, the Director of music for Grindon Hall Christian School in the United Kingdom. Hepburn took his love of music and with the help of business partner David Mastran, developed Quaver’s in order to raise music education to its next level.

Quaver’s is a colorful, interactive collection of lessons that are projected on a screen for the students to sing and play along.

As Morgan’s fourth grade class demonstrated last week, the program is engaging, educational, and fun.

The students learned about fourth notes by repeating 1-e-and-a as Morgan pointed to the notes. Then, the music played and the students joined in by hitting the floor with sticks like a drum. Once the students had the rhythm, Morgan directed each student to improvise a beat.

“Jazz musicians do it all the time,” he told the students. “They make up their own stuff. I’ve been in a band where I was playing the trombone and the director says, ‘Okay Greg,’ that’s my name, ‘you have the next eight bars,’ and I have to make something up. That’s what I do. I make it up and play, and hope I don’t mess it up. It’s fun.”

After the students improvised, Morgan asked an important question.

“Did anybody have a heart attack?” he asked. “No, everybody did okay. You made some really nice sounds.”

Morgan first learned about the Quaver’s program at the West Virginia Music Teacher Convention, and brought the information back to the board of education. He was very excited to implement the program in his classroom.

“When I got here, the books were twenty years old,” he said. “I didn’t use them. The stuff was very antiquated. This program, I use it with kindergarten through fourth grade. It goes up to fifth grade and there’s an option to go through sixth through eighth. I can create classes and I could do a class online and give them homework if I wanted. They have free access to the program.”

Students are able to log on to the program at home and discover games, videos and more in the Quaver’s universe. Games allow the students to create their own music, and videos focus on famous composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven.

“We did an intensive study on Beethoven last year so they found this very helpful,” Morgan said.

Morgan said he enjoys the program because it engages the students to learn through doing and gives them the opportunity to create their own sound.

“One of the things they want us to try to get students to do, and what we did really easy there, is creating things,” he said. “They created their own little beat there. They are more engaged.”

The Quaver’s program is also implemented at Marlinton Elementary School by music teacher Rick McLaughlin.

Along with the Quaver’s program, the music department is also participating in a program through Carnegie Hall, which provides recorders for every fourth grade student.

“Carnegie Hall provides us with a music curriculum and recorders where, we will learn music and in the Spring, we will go to Carnegie Hall and play with a bunch of other schools,” Morgan said. “The audience is filled with other schools like us and on stage is a symphony orchestra from James Madison University, and we play together. It is a very cool thing.”

The music program has grown by leaps and bounds, so much so, that it is in dire need of instruments. At GBEMS, students are eligible to take band in fifth through eighth grade. This year, Morgan has an estimated 70 band students and the school only owns about 50 instruments.

“Instruments are scarce,” Morgan said.

It is difficult for the fifth grade band especially because students spend the year trying out instruments, instead of picking one and sticking with it.

“What we do is, we learn to make a noise on an instrument and learn to play a few notes,” Morgan said. “Once we’re comfortable with that, we switch instruments and do that again. Then, by the end of the fifth grade, they know what instruments they want. When they get in the sixth grade, they will stay on that instrument all year.”

Morgan is accepting instrument donations and is very appreciative of the generosity of the community.

For more information on the Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music program, visit www.quavermusic.com

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com