Emerson Elementary School

About Mr. Miller

Hello!  My name is Joel Miller and I am the music teacher at Emerson Elementary School.  This is my 18th year teaching in Elmhurst 205 and my 27th year teaching music.  I graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Music Education.  In 2000, I received my Masters in Music Education from Northern Illinois University.  My philosophy for teaching music is deeply rooted in the foundations of Orff Schulwerk, a technique which is based on things children like to do:  sing, chant rhymes, clap, dance and keep a beat.  These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first and then, reading and writing it later.  This is the same way we all learned our language.Orff Schulwerk happens in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of making good music with others.  When the children want to write down what they have composed, reading and writing find their moment.  Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs and dances as examples and basic materials. These may be accompanied by clapping and stamping or by drums, sticks and bells. 

Joel Miller


K-5 Vocal Music Snapshot

Students receive vocal music two times per week for thirty minutes.  The exception is Kindergarten who receive music one thirty minute session per week.  The K-5 Vocal Music Curriculum utilizes Game Plan Music Series by Kriske and Dellelles, Making Music by Silver Burdett and Ginn, and Music Express Magazine by Hal Leonard Publishing.  Below is a brief description of the activities we explore in each grade level.


Kindergarten:  In Kindergarten music class, the majority of the work we do is focused on learning how to use our singing voice.  We also use a variety of small percussion instruments to learn new concepts and accompany our singing.  Toward the end of the school year, we begin to work with xylophones.  Some of the concepts we introduce are high and low sounds, loud and quiet sounds, fast and slow speeds (tempo), imitation, steady beat, rhythm, moving and dance, AB and ABA form.


First Grade:  First Grade students expand on what they learned in Kindergarten.  We continue to work on using our singing voices and focus on sol-mi and sol-mi-la songs at the beginning of the school year.  Solfege is introduced in first grade and we meet some of our singing characters on "Music Street".  Students continue to explore small percussion instruments and are introduced to the glockenspiels, metallophones and xylophones.  We work on proper mallet technique and how to handle instruments responsibly.  Some of the concepts we cover are high and low sounds, piano and forte sounds, responding to music in variety of tempi, imitation/mirroring, steady beat, rhythm, labeling quarter note, quarter rest, and eighth notes, movement and dance, AB and ABA form, verse/refrain form.


Second Grade:  Second Grade students continue to explore concepts learned in First Grade.  We focus on further developing our singing skills, adding songs with a wider range of notes.  Students are expected to be able to sing a pentatonic scale in tune, alone and with others by the end of the year.  We continue to work with a variety of instruments including small percussion and instruments of the Orff Instrumentarium.  We work on proper mallet technique and how to handle instruments responsibly.  Some of the concepts we cover are reading quarter notes, quarter rests, eighth notes and half notes, solfege hand signs and pitches, absolute pitch names, repeat signs, finish signs, reading a variety of music symbols, variety of forms, movement and dance.


Third Grade:  Third Grade students begin to play wind instruments called recorders.  While these instruments are made of plastic, they are one of the first orchestral flutes dating back over 900 years.  Students learn to play several songs in third grade.  The focus is on tone production and not as much on reading and fluency.  Students learn to play B, A, G, E and will play songs in both major and minor tonalities.  Students also learn to read different note values such as quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes.  Students will also learn a repertoire of song from all around the world, studying the music and culture from many different countries.  Students continue to use the Orff Instrumentarium for accompanying the many folk songs we learn throughout the year in music class. 


Fourth Grade:  Fourth Grade students continue to play recorder, expanding their note playing to B, A, G, E, D, and high C.  Students are introduced to syncopation and there is more emphasis on part independence than in Third Grade.  Not only are students able to accompany themselves on a variety of instruments, they are also working on singing in parts.  Fourth grade students are exposed to more reading and writing experiences throughout the school year, working toward becoming literate musicians. 


Fifth Grade:  Fifth Grade students continue to play recorder, expanding their knowledge of note names to B, A, G, E, D, C, high C, high D, F# and Bb.  Students at this level are encourage to explore and create with their friends more than in previous years.  One of the over arching goals in Fifth Grade is for students to be able to write, read, and play each others compositions.  We will spend much more time at this level creating original music and movement, alone and with others.

Emerson Singers!

Emerson Singers will start rehearsals on Tuesday, September 18th at 7:30 a.m. in the music room (217). Please exercise care when dropping off your child making sure to drive slowly through the parking area. We don't want anyone getting hurt! Thanks!


We will have FOUR performances this year.


Sing out at Mariano's in December - Date and Time TBA - stay tuned

Sing out at Elmhurst College in January - Date and Time TBA - stay tuned

District Choral Festival - Thursday, March 7th at 7:30 p.m.

School Concert - Tuesday, April 30th at 6:30 p.m.

Dates to Remember

Emerson Singers begins on September 18th.  Rehearsals will be held on Tuesday mornings from 7:30 - 8:10 a.m.


Performance Dates:


Tuesday, May 1, 2018


5th Grade - 8:45 a.m.

4th Grade - 9:45 a.m.

3rd Grade - 10:45 a.m.

1st Grade - 12:30 p.m.

2nd Grade - 1:30 p.m.

3rd Grade - 2:15 p.m.

Emerson Singers 6:30 p.m.


Kindergarten performances (held in room 217)

Ms. Niggins' PM - TBA - in May

Ms. Niggins' AM - TBA - in May

Mrs. Garcia PM - TBA - in May