Music Overview

Elementary Music

Overview for elementary music 2020-21.

K-3 students all attend music 1x a week during our online schooling! They learn about age appropriate music concepts from rhythm, pitch, instrument families, and various music styles. Our wonderful general music teacher, John Forsleff, uses his instruments, hand clapping exercises, movement games, sol fedge and other musical activities in class. Students are also learning the basics of note reading to prepare them for joining band or orchestra in 4th grade.

4th Grade students will start this year learning the recorders online once a week!  This will prepare them for instrumental music choices: Band (Clarinet, Flute, Trumpet or Trombone), Orchestra (violin, viola, cello) when we are able to resume in person learning. Instruments and supplies are provided for students who cannot afford to rent.  Students will be broken into smaller groups based on their instrument preference when we can play together!

5th Grade students in 2020-2021 are encouraged to continue with their instrument of choice last year in Band or Orchestra once a week!  Due to the circumstances, switching is not an option.  This class is a continuation of 4th grade and it’s so exciting when students begin to understand their instruments better, note reading becomes more fluent and there will be a strong emphasis on personal goal setting, personal achievements and focusing on the love of music.

Middle School Music

Band and Orchestra during 2020-2021 online learning meets 2x a week and is a year-long elective for middle school students. Classes will focus on continuing students along their musical journey, continuing to foster a love of their instrument and music.  Even though we can’t play “together” we can still grow our learning, our musicianship, and our community with our fellow musicians.  A strong emphasis on personal goal setting, personal achievements, improvements on instrument and focusing on the love of music will be a part of the TOPS Music Curriculum.

Orchestra Teacher: Stephanie Hellekson
Band Teacher: John Forsleff
General Music Teacher: John Forsleff

We have a very strong retention rate and music program at TOPS – music is an important part of our daily lives and often a favorite part of the day. We strive to keep equity at the center of our instruction and all students have the opportunity to play an instrument in 4th and 5th grade – this is unique to TOPS, thanks to the support of the parents, teachers, and the administration. It is not required for students to take private lessons or participate in Youth Symphonies or JazzEd.

Mr. Forsleff and Ms Stephanie can provide lists of private teachers or extra music programs if interested.

Keep up to date on TOPS Music via the FOT (Friends of TOPS) Music Facebook  Group.  Class supplies are provided by the teacher of your students music class. 

Performance Schedule and Music Staff

John Forsleff: Band & General Music

John Forsleff is a music educator, singer, pianist, guitarist, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist.

In addition to teaching band and general music at TOPS K-8, he also teaches private lessons in the Seattle area. As a previous member of El Ballet Folklorico Estudiantil, he has performed in concert with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and has traveled across the United States and Mexico to study and perform the art ofMariachi and Hispanic music, culture, and dance. Mr. Forsleff comes from the “Great Lakes” state of Michigan, where he began his musical studies on the piano. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from Western Michigan University As a teacher, he has worked in Catholic and public schools teaching preK-8th grade general music, middle school band, middle school choir, elementary band, and preK-8th grade ukulele. 

Stephanie Hellekson: Orchestra

Stephanie Hellekson is in her 12th year of teaching string orchestra. She spent the first part of her school teaching career working with 4th-12th grade string students in the Bethel School District and is now currently the director of TOPS K-8 Orchestra Program, consisting of four different classes 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th/8th grade orchestras in the Seattle Public School District.

Stephanie has taught private violin students since 1998, she has kept up with private teaching and has a small private violin studio of 12 students at her home in Mt. Baker, Seattle.  In addition, she has directed the Junior Orchestra for Peninsula Youth Orchestra for 3 years from 2008-2011 and coaches violin, adjudicates, and guest teaches for various string programs in the greater Puget Sound area. 

Stephanie has kept up performing having played with Olympia Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, UW summer orchestras, Brent Symphony Orchestra in London, UK and currently plays violin with the Northwest Symphony Orchestra.  Stephanie earned a Bachelor Degree in Music Education (2003) and a Masters of Arts and Teaching (2004), both from the University of Puget Sound. 

Natalie Ingrisano: Elementary Music

Natalie Ingrisano is a music educator and professional singer teaching and performing primarily in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. She holds an Artist Diploma in Early Music (historical performance), a Master of Music (voice performance), and a Bachelor of Music (music education k-12 and voice performance). As a teacher she has worked in public, private, and catholic schools teaching preK-8th grade general music, middle school choir, preK-3rd grade violin program, and 4th-8th grade band. She is in her second year teaching K-5th grade general music classes at TOPS, and also teaches the preK intro to Suzuki music classes at the Suzuki Institute of Seattle. As a chorister in 2013 she rocked it hard singing with the Rolling Stones. As a professional classical singer she enjoys a busy performance calendar as a soloist, performing locally 1-3 times per month throughout the school year/performance season. You can find her this season on Seattle concert series Bach’s Lunch Sanctuary in the City , and Pacific MusicWorks Underground .

Marge Rosen: Band

Marge Rosen is a music educator, arts administrator, conductor and trumpet player. In addition to teaching bands at TOPS K-8, she is the executive director and plays lead trumpet for Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. A previous member of the United States Navy Band, she has performed for the President of the United States, numerous foreign dignitaries, and at the 1994 World Cup. She has enjoyed performing across the country from Carnegie Hall to Benaroya Hall and from Adak, Alaska to Lima, Peru. She earned a masters degree in music education from Ithaca College in New York.

Sample of Performance Schedule

To resume upon end of COVID restrictions.

Performance Schedule


  • September 18 – SPS Board Meeting Orchestra Performance 4:00-5:00pm


  • Baseline Music Assessments given in 6-8th grade and 5th grade classes


  • Veterans Day Assembly  *daytime, no evening concert


  • December 11 – TOPS Concert 6:30pm. Student call time, 7:00pm-8:15pm plus daytime assembly at 9:40am


  • Martin Luther King Assembly


  • March 8 – Elliot Bay Music Region Band Festival – Whitman Middle School * Day field trip parent chaperones needed (10:30-4:00pm)
  • March 9 – Elementary Instrumental Music Honors  (5th grade only)
  • March 21 – Elliot Bay Music Region Orchestra Festival – Whitman Middle School * Day field trip parent chaperones needed (times roughly 10:30-4:00)
  • March 30 – TOPS auction evening – selected groups of students to perform
  • TBD – Solo/Ensemble Contest *optional


  • April 2 –  TOPS Concert 6:30pm student call time, 7:00-8:15pm plus daytime assembly


  • June 11 – TOPS End of Year Concert 6:30pm student call time, 7:00-8:30 pm plus daytime assembly
  • Cornerstone Assessments
  • TBD – 8th Grade Passage evening ceremony 7:00pm *selected students to perform

Concert Attire (Required)

  • Middle School: Dressy ALL Black.
  • Elementary School : Dressy black on bottom and white on top
  • Please NO tennis shoes, spaghetti straps, short skirts, white socks, or jeans

*Please let Stephanie know if you need help or scholarship with concert attire.

Please keep in mind that this is a living document that is subject to change. We will do our best to communicate cancellations, additions, and changes as soon as possible.