Heather Murtagh/Daily Journal
Second grade Allen Elementary School student Gaby Harrold plays the recorder while U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, and his wife Annette Lantos listen in the background Wednesday.
Music teacher Endre Balogh drew four beamed eighth notes on the white board with a little kitty head on one end before asking 20 Allen Elementary School second graders who the character was.
"Tika Tika,” students gleefully answered.
Tika Tika was joined by other notes turned into characters such as Ta Ta and Ti Ti — code names for the musical notes drawn with smiles and sometimes hair. Students smiled when describing the number of claps each character warranted. Balogh designed a grouping of the characters before asking students to echo the beat.
The demonstration showcased the Academic Music Program introduced at the San Bruno school in January. U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, visited Wednesday to see the program in action. The program, founded by Marc Bolin, Lisa Bolin and Balogh, utilizes the fun of music while improving math comprehension. A gain in state testing was shown since beginning the program, said Principal Kit Cosgriff.
The program was developed using the Kodaly system of music education. Children are able to count the beats, which are fractions, making math a bit easier, said Balogh.
Second grade teacher Christi Elcock noticed an increase in ease and comprehension of math due to the program.
At one point, students were given a piece of paper showing that one Tika Tika — four notes beamed together — equaled four claps. Students then drew Tika Tikas adding one Tika Tika per line. One student first wrote 10, for example, then drew 10 Tika Tikas followed by the number of beats it warranted, 40.
Elcock explained how the exercise helps students better understand multiplication.
Lantos seemed to enjoy watching application of music for furthering academics.
"Everything you learn in school you forget, but the education remains,” said Lantos. "That’s what this experiment is. ... This is what will remain with these students.”
During the visit, Lantos watched as the children did clapping exercises, played the recorder, sang and jump and completed the musical worksheet.
Moving forward, the school is looking to expand the program to help improve reading comprehension particularly for English language learners, said Cosgriff.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: email@example.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.