Music is important to us. Not only does it enrich the lives of the children and provide experiences and skills that can be enjoyed over a lifetime. We also believe that music helps the intellectual and emotional development of children. Our music program is led by Dr. Anne-Valerie Brittan. The music program varies every year, but in general, it follows these lines:
The fall semester is usually dedicated to theory (singing, rhythm exercises, ear training) and preparing the Winter Program. In the spring, in addition to theory, we introduce the children to the orchestra and all its instruments. One year, we may study wind instruments (woodwind and brass) and we listen to each individually and in ensembles. We listen mostly to classical music but also jazz and traditional or folk music, and we try to expose children to music they wouldn’t necessarily listen at home. The next year, we may focus on the string instruments. Towards the end of the semester, we explore non-Western instruments, such as those of India and other eastern or African countries. Following the Montessori cycle, our orchestration cycle spreads over three years. We do one Spring on winds, one on strings (western and non-western), and one on percussion/keyboard instruments/voice & opera (we will watch scenes form many famous operas).
The class is structured as followed: the first 20 minutes are dedicated to theory and practice, and the remaining 40 minutes focus on orchestration, composers and genres. For example, so far this year, we have talked about Benjamin Britten, Franz Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, J.S. Bach and Camille Saint-Saëns. We listened to orchestral music, string quartet, violin and viola duets, violin concerto, viola concerto, cello suite and piano cello duet. The genres we explore are as diverse as the composers and the time periods we “study.” We have pictures of said composers to show to the children as well as dates and time periods – the composers are introduced in a historical context. We start the exploration of the symphonic world in the 17th century, through Stamitz and the origins of the symphony as we know it, to Beethoven and end up in the 20th century with Shostakovich. In addition to weekly music group lessons, each student has individual lessons with the music teacher during which the teacher introduces material at the student’s own pace and together they go deeper into theory for the older students.
The music program is integrated with our French language program in that the students learn music terms in English and French and frequently use French songs and materials in the study of Music. Studying a language through songs and music makes the study more efficient and interesting, and the memorization of, and exposure to, songs in a foreign language is a great way to learn the sounds, vocabulary, and structure of the language.
Our core music program ties into the after school optional classes offered by instructors from the Norman music community on our school premises after the school day is over. The Cimarron Opera regularly offers a voice class that alternates between using French and English material depending on the semester. McMichael Music provides string lessons after school. We constantly work to alternate between, and add, music classes that are complementary to our music program at school. Parents receive information about such options through The Bloom newsletter.