Music Program

Music Links
Tucson Junior Strings
This is a wonderful program for Tucson string players of all levels!

Quizzes, Games and Music Help
Great for learning to read, write and understand musical notation.

Interactive Recorder Fingering Chart
To see the corresponding recorder fingering, click a note on the staff.

The Piano Player
FUNBRAIN will show musical notes. For each note shown, click on the correct key on the virtual piano. There are different levels of difficulty.

The New York Philharmonic Kidzone
A place for kids to come and learn about the New York Philharmonic and about the instruments, music,and musicians. Great games!

Tucson Symphony Orchestra
The Tucson Symphony Orchestra is the oldest continuing professional performing arts organization in the state of Arizona. Find out what’s happening in Tucson.
Meet the Teacher
Jennifer Wortman

Jennifer Wortman is a native Tucsonan who went through Tucson Unified public K-12 Magnet Schools.  She is currently in her 24th  year of teaching Choir and her 11th year as an OMA Arts Integration Specialist. She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from Northern Arizona University and her Masters in Choral Conducting from California State University Los Angeles.  She was the choir teacher at Palo Verde High School for twelve years as well as the founder of the Palo Verde Alumni and Faculty Choirs.  She then started teaching OMA at Cragin and Dietz K-8 where she also taught choir.  Ms. Jennifer is a past president of the Arizona Choral Educators, has been a clinician and conductor for various festivals as well as the Tucson Girls Chorus.  She is currently the Choir Director of the Adult and Children’s Choir at Tanque Verde Lutheran Church.  Ms. Jennifer has a wonderful husband and two beautiful boys and is thrilled to be continuing her journey at Miles.   





James Gutierrez
Katie Thaler
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Katie Thaler is the Middle School Orchestra Director at Miles K-8 ELC. An accomplished cellist, Katie holds a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance from Florida State University as well as a Master of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Arizona’s Fred Fox School of Music, where she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Katie has performed in many masterclasses for artists such as Collin Car, Paul Wiancko, Thomas Kraines, the New Zealand String Quartet and Badke String Quartet. Currently Katie performs with the Sierra Vista Symphony, runs a thriving cello studio, and teaches at Dunham Elementary. Katie lives in downtown Tucson with her husband, a violist and fellow teacher Raiden Thaler and their two charming cats, Charlie and Luna. If you don’t hear string music filling Katie’s and Raiden’s home, they’re most likely trying out an adventurous recipe for dinner or catching up on the latest episodes of Grey’s Anatomy.
Raiden Thaler
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Mr. Thaler is the Arts Integration Specialist (AIS) and Orchestra Director at Steele Elementary, serving in additional music leadership capacities at Sahuaro High School and Miles Exploratory Learning Center. He graduated from the Fred Fox School of Music Summa Cum Laude in 2021 with a MM in Viola Performance. There, he was the violist in the Grove String Quartet, the Graduate String Quartet at the University of Arizona, and principal viola in the University Symphony Orchestra. Raiden is excited to share his new AIS journey alongside his wife, Katie Capp, who is also a new AIS and Orchestra Director at Dunham Elementary.  As a teacher, Raiden strives to always be an eternal learner: his students teach him daily how to better serve them and grow as an educator.
Contact Mr. Thaler by Email
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Music Education is Essential
Music integration into the core curriculum and music for music’s sake is offered for all Miles ELC students from pre-school through 2nd grade. Students 3rd-8th grade are given the option of taking band, orchestra or classical guitar.
Guitar IThe study of music is rewarding in and of itself. Music study offers students an opportunity to experience the pleasure of self-expression. Making music in an ensemble with their peers also provides students a unique experience of creating something as a group that isn't possible individually. Through music study, students develop appreciation skills that will support them as lifelong patrons of the arts—an essential element to the continuity of music in our communities and schools
Many studies exist supporting the correlation between the study of music and higher achievement in other academic areas. In 2008, a more definitive study by the Dana Arts & Cognition Consortium provided more concrete evidence connecting the study of music to improved cognition. While its intrinsic value is a fundamental reason for studying music, the fact that music study positively affects academic performance in other subjects should elevate its importance in the curriculum. At a time when academic performance is being scrutinized, our state's leaders and school administrators should be mindful of this powerful connection.
Student playing guitarIn line with supporting academic success and preparing students for their future, school music study has proven to improve several areas important to a student's overall success and satisfaction in their educational experience. Studies show a correlation between enrollment in music courses and higher attendance rates, lower drop out rates, and fewer discipline issues. With an emphasis on ensemble performance, school music study requires students to develop effective communication and cooperation skills. Music ensembles also provide students the opportunity to foster positive relationships. For many students, the music ensemble offers the only setting where they experience the benefits of positive relationships with others. In music class, students enter a positive environment requiring their discipline, commitment, and passion. In return, they receive the unique reward that only music can offer
Guitar II Leaders in business and technology now assert that creativity and innovation are fundamental characteristics for individuals entering the workforce. In a world where routine tasks can be automated and outsourced, it is the mind that has been focused on creative innovation that will succeed. While music study supports the analytical academic skills essential for entering this highly-technical workforce, it also helps students develop what are now the vital skills for realizing a competitive edge in today's workforce: artistry, empathy, inventiveness, collaboration, leadership, and critical thinking. These skills are necessary in preparing students for the reality of their future.
Performing Ensembles
2nd - 3rd graders meet every Wednesday morning from 8:15-8:45am to learn guitar chords and strumming.  
4th-5th graders meet every Tuesday morning from 8:15-8:45am to learn guitar chords and strumming.  

Contact Ms. Wortman for more information
This ensemble is for students who are new to music and wish to play a Band Instrument (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Saxophone, Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Tuba, & Percussion.) This band meets before school on Tuesdays & Fridays from 8:00am to 8:30am. Students must arrive 5 minutes early to set up instruments. Students are expected to attend end of semester concerts.
This ensemble is comprised of students who have played a band instrument for 1-2 years and are still in grades 4-5. Students will review and build upon concepts learned in Beginning Band and will begin learning sheet music. Beginning students at the middle school level are encouraged to play with the Advanced Band to supplement learning and help them catch up with more advanced middle school students. Students are expected to attend end of semester concerts. Advanced Band meets before school on Tuesdays & Fridays from 8:30am to 9:00am. Students must arrive 5 minutes early to set up instruments.
This ensemble is for students who are new to orchestra string instruments (violin, viola, cello and bass) and are in 3rd through 5th grade. This class meets before school from 8:00 to 8:30 on Mondays and Thursdays. This class performs in 2 concerts per year.
This ensemble is comprised of students who wish to play a band instrument and who are in grades 6-8. This ensemble quickly reviews skills and concepts learned in the Elementary Bands. Students will work from the Essential Elements 2000 book 1, and they will play sheet music. A portion of this class is self-paced to accommodate the diverse skill level of the students in the Middle School Band. Student who are beginners at their instrument are highly encouraged to come before school to play with the Elementary bands. Students are required to attend end of semester concerts. Middle School Band meets Tuesdays & Fridays during 3rd period, 9:30am to 11:05am.
This class is for 4th and 5th graders who have had at least one year of orchestra. This class meets before school on Mondays and Thursdays from 8:30 – 9:00. This class performs in 2 concerts per year.
This class is open to all Middle School students who want to play a string instrument and who are in 6th – 8th grade. This class welcomes beginners, but focuses on perfecting and advancing skills that students learned in Elementary school. This class meets Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 – 11:05. This class participates in a TUSD middle school orchestra festival every year as well as the TUDS Middle School Honors Orchestra Festival. In the past we have also performed at the Pima County Fair. This class also presents two performances at Miles each year.