About the School

Wonderland Avenue School is really two schools -- a neighborhood school for families in the Laurel Canyon area and a Gifted/High Achieving magnet that draws students from around the city.  The overall enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year was 555, and the school's most recent Academic Performance Index  (API) was 974.  In 2010 Wonderland was honored with the prestigious Distinguished School Award by the California State Board of Education.

Wonderland does not receive federal money and relies on its parent organization, Friends of Wonderland, to underwrite the cost of my music program, as well as full-time Art and P.E. teachers.  Wonderland is an Arts Branch school, with visiting LAUSD visual arts, theater and dance instructors teaching on a rotational basis and a full time Orchestra teacher.

My Program at Wonderland

At Wonderland I see all students in all grade levels once a week throughout the year.  This allows me to teach music in some depth, presenting multiple thematic units that extend over several lessons. 

I use an Orff-based approach (for more information see “What is Orff?”).  I also rely on the California state and national music standards to determine what sort of music-making and musical ideas are appropriate for each grade level, although I usually find that Wonderland kids exceed expectations.  And I measure everything I teach against these core objectives:

  1. To develop each child’s musical understanding and appreciation by encouraging them to create music before learning to read it.

  1. To encourage children to be composers as well as performers.

  1. Connecting music to other curricular areas such as science, math, language arts and social studies.

  1. Putting the music they listen to into a multi-cultural and historical context.

  1. Providing hands-on experiences with instruments and movement. 

I also maintain a Wonderland music blog at livefromthempr.blogspot.com.  I use the blog to communicate with parents, students and teachers, to post student work and, in the case of older kids, extend my classroom.  The use of smart boards at Wonderland by classroom teachers creates opportunities to use the blog as a classroom tool for both music and other curricular areas with a musical flavor. 

Over the last two years  I’ve added ensembles in recorder, percussion, and voice for all interested 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.  My responsibilities also include developing the Winter Holiday Show, a long-standing Wonderland tradition in which every Wonderland student participates, and preparing the 5th graders for culmination. 

New in 2013-2014

The newest development in our general music program is the parent association inviting me to join the staff full-time!  As a result, virtually every aspect of the program is being upgraded.  All classes are increasing 30 to 45 minutes, and this year primary grades (K, 1 & 2) will receive and additional 30 minutes of singing on Fridays.  Going forward those Friday time slots will be used for a number of year- long project with an emphasis on integrating music with the Common Core.   Friday is also the day when Principal Wilson and I will lead the Coyote String Band -- a bluegrass and country ensemble for kids interested in American folk music.  This brings the total number of ensembles offered at the school to four along with orchestra.

More information about how to take full advantage of all these music opportunities will be posted on the Wonderland web site or on my blog, so keep checking back!