Manzanita Music: A Hands-On Approach

by Heikki Koskinen


Working as a Group

Manzanita students spend part of every Wednesday making music. Students learn music parts and patterns on school instruments – first individually and then playing together. Experiencing the demands and rewards of playing in a group requires cooperation and development of listening skills.

Students also learn about basic music theory, reading music, and the science of sound, as well as listen to and discuss various styles of music.

Each Manzanita grade (6th, 7th and 8th) focuses on a few songs – playing & singing.
They learn to play from music & lyric sheets, as well as by observing how to play rhythms on percussion. Students’ input in creating music parts is encouraged.


2017 Class Songs

  • 6th Grade song: Lean On Me (sing, easily playable melody, ensemble play)
  • 7th Grade songs: Ungaresca (Medieval) &Evil Waste (rhythms & melody)
  • 8th Grade song: Guantanamera (basic harmony, rhythms & ensemble play)


Teaching Materials

    1. Manzanita musical instruments include
      • Five keyboards/digital pianos
      • Electric/acoustic guitar
      • Six ukuleles
      • Two melodicas (wind/keyboard instrument)
      • One full drum set
      • Three conga drums
      • Two sets of bongos
      • One big hand drum
      • Miscellaneous percussion instruments (maracas, bells, claves)
    2. Music notation sheets
      • Classroom music materials are printed using Sibelius software
      • Arrangements are adapted to students’ skill levels
    3. Music listening samples
      • An extensive personal library of music and videos of all styles of music


Manzanita music classes are part of the Wheel Program, which brings music and foreign language curriculum to students every Wednesday. Last year’s Wheel Program included instrumental & vocal music, Mandarin, and American Sign Language.


Heikki Koskinen was born in Finland and received his main education there, including private music studies, as well as Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Aalto University. After receiving scholarships to study music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Heikki moved to San Francisco in 1977. Heikki has over 35 years experience in teaching all over the Bay Area, as well as performing and composing music.

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