55,000 music kits assembled for elementary students at 80 schools

Collage of pics of students, parents and teachers with music kits

The beat goes on for elementary music students at all 80 Northside elementary schools! Whether students are learning in-person or are at home learning virtually, they will all soon have access to an individual music supply kit to keep them engaged with their music teachers and music curriculum. 

A group of elementary music teachers and Band Booster parents and students from Brennan, Harlan, Marshall, and Taft high schools spent a recent weekend assembling 55,000 kits, for kinder through fifth grade students. Stations were set up on stage in the Harlan High School auditorium and boxes of 200 kits were labeled by school and packed for eventual distribution by the NISD Warehouse Department.

The goal of the initiative is to provide students with equal access to individual music materials that adhere to COVID-19 protocols, while still providing a high-quality Fine Arts experience.

“It is critical for our young children to access all of the ‘manipulatives’ used daily in the classroom in order to experience rhythm, time, tempo, and kinesthetic coordination to the beat of music,” says James Miculka, Director of Fine Arts. “In light of COVID-19 health protocols and safety requirements, these items would need to be sanitized between each class of students. Rather than lose teaching time or remove the experience from our students, NISD opted to create small innovative items that serve the same purpose.” 

Each music kit contains bells, rhythm sticks, and rhythm blocks fashioned out of pool noodles. Harlan Career and Technical Education (CTE) students sliced over 3,000 pool noodles into three inch sections to make them.

“Having a personal instrument kit gives the students the freedom to explore and create music in a tangible way,” says Barbara Talley, music specialist at Wernli ES. “It maximizes the time spent making music and eliminates the stress for teachers to safely sanitize instruments.”

Meadow Village ES music teacher Danielle Farris already sees those benefits of music kits. Over the summer, she secured grant funding and enlisted friends and family to put together 500 kits unique to each grade level at her school.  

During a recent second grade music lesson, students used their rhythm sticks to keep the beat on their chairs as they read a Halloween poem. Students at home could follow along the same way.

“Students love using the various items in the music kits,” Farris says. “I also see students being more creative with how they use the instruments and how they use their body as percussion instruments. It has provided an opportunity for students to explore and experience music in new ways they could have never imagined before. It really shows how much music is essential for our students and now more than ever!”

The approximate cost of each NISD music kit is $3.10. If purchased already assembled commercially, the cost would be approximately $20 each.