Deedee Smith, Music Fine Arts teacher at Dillman
Provided by Muleshoe ISD
The basics of reading, writing and math will always be
with us. But music trains the brain in ways that help learning in a multitude
“Music is one of the only skills that uses both the
left and right sides of the brain. It’s analytical and creative at the same
time,” said Deedee Smith, Music Fine Arts teacher at Dillman Elementary. “A
student may not do well in reading or math, but music gives them the
opportunity to flourish and to find their skill set.”
Smith, who has a bachelor’s degree in vocal
performance and a master’s in elementary education, has taught at Dillman Elementary
for five years. The MISD music program starts with pre-K and continues through
elementary school and beyond. Pre-K has music three times a week, and K through
second have music every day.
The Dillman music program works in correlation with
Susan White, music teacher at DeShazo Elementary.
“By the time they leave me, they’re foundationally
ready for her to challenge them, moving them up,” Smith said.
Music is fun, but it is also a discipline, and much
depends on good classroom management.
“This is where we’re creating, but you’ve got to have
that line,” Smith said. “There’s lots of process.”
The elementary program uses two different curriculums,
Kodály and Quavers,
plus pieces the teachers have learned through their years of experience.
“English learners benefit because of how much
audio-visual is used and because the curriculum is tailored to Texas TEKS and
Texas culture,” Smith said. “Learning solfege (tones of the scale) is huge for
Special education students either come in with general
education teachers or are pulled from self-contained classes for music.
Students gain a broad perspective of geography and history
through cultural dances and folk songs of all different kinds from all over the
“They’re as diverse as they possibly can be,” Smith
said. “Susan especially brings in different songs from different cultures
whenever she can.”
By the time students leave second grade, they are able
to write their own treble clef compositions. They also prepare for learning to
harmonize by singing rounds. Students begin to harmonize at DeShazo.
Rhythm instruments and Orff instruments, such as the xylophone,
are introduced early. By the time students reach fifth grade, they are ready
for the recorder band, which prepares them to play instruments in the junior
high and high school bands.
A good music program needs support from both the
community and school officials.
“We have a great school board and administration that
support us in what we do,” Smith said. “Anything we need, they say we’ll figure
out how to get that. We appreciate them greatly.”
Part of the music program is the opportunity to learn
“Susan does three programs a year, and I do at least
three performances,” Smith said. “In the first grade we go caroling at the
senior center, in the second grade there’s the Christmas program, and the kindergarten
will sing three songs at their graduation awards assembly that’s coming up.
“Because music takes place in an interactive,
cooperative environment, it’s great for the social, emotional learning of the
“Music is not just about what it teaches the brain,
but what it teaches the heart.”