All students in grades 1-2 receive general music instruction weekly.
Students participate in an exploratory wheel. The year is divided into trimesters and the courses in which students participate are violin, recorder and choir.
Music class take place weekly for 45 minutes each and students all participate in the same curriculum, rotating through the wheel with an assigned group. Music classes are divided into three equal size groups and students remain in the same group for the entire year. Classroom teachers determine the groups.
The music wheel allows third graders to broaden their musical experiences, and gives them a stronger reference for selecting their music pathway for fourth and fifth grade
Fourth and fifth grade music is a two-year program. Students remain in their chosen class (Strings/Band/Choir) for two years, giving them the opportunity to build their skills and achieve mastery.
The Honor Strings Orchestra is made up of the most advanced string students selected from each elementary school in the district. This performance-based ensemble provides students with the opportunity to take the skills they have been practicing on their instruments, both individually and in class, and apply them to a group setting. In addition, it gives those who are at the head of their music classes an extra set of challenges and motivation that will lead to continued success at the next developmental levels.
Any student currently participating in 4th or 5th grade strings class is welcome and encouraged to audition for the Honor String Orchestra. An enthusiastic, hard working attitude is essential for any potential Honor String Orchestra member. Students who are accepted must be willing and able to practice additional music that will be more advanced than the music they are receiving in their weekly music class. Also of note is that, although the Honor String Orchestra is comprised of mixed grade levels, the majority of Honor String students are in the 5th grade. As such, the instructional style and dynamics of the rehearsals are geared toward the maturity level of 5th graders.
Auditions take place around the beginning of December. The Orchestra normally begins its weekly two hour practices in January at the Mira Costa High School Orchestra Room where they are assisted by a select group of High School mentors.
4th & 5th students participate in an end-of-year concert at each of the Elementary sites. Alumni musicians from each Elementary school come back to participate in these concerts.
Additionally, there is an All District Orchestra Concert held in February at the Mira Costa Auditorium where the Honor String Orchestra performs.
Katie Cavallaro is the elementary strings teacher for the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. She has been teaching third through fifth grade strings at all five MBUSD elementary schools since the Fall of 2009. Prior to joining the music faculty in Manhattan Beach, Ms. Cavallaro held a similar teaching position as an elementary strings teacher in the Santa Monica-Malibu USD. During her tenure in Santa Monica, Ms. Cavallaro helped revamp the elementary strings curriculum, helping to improve student achievement, enrollment, retention, and instrumentation.
A native of upstate New York, Ms. Cavallaro pursued studies in violin performance and music education at Ithaca College, earning a bachelor's and master's degree, both with high honors. She is also an active member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, and has SAA registered training in the courses Every Child Can, Violin Book 1, and Violin Book 2. In addition to her studies on the violin, Ms. Cavallaro’s music experience includes playing cello in her high school orchestra, singing in choir, and playing percussion in the marching band! Like most students in MBUSD, Ms. Cavallaro first began playing the violin in the third grade. She is thrilled to be teaching students who are at the same age when her own love for music was ignited!
When not teaching or playing music, Ms. Cavallaro is an avid long-distance runner. She enjoys running in local race events such as the Los Angeles Marathon, the Grand View Gator 5K, and the Robinson Fun Run. Additionally, Ms. Cavallaro is a nutrition enthusiast. She especially enjoys cooking a variety of plant-based menus using fresh local produce from the Farmers Market!