"The characteristics of a good musician are a well-trained ear, a well-trained mind, a well-trained hand, and a well-trained heart. All four must develop together, in constant equilibrium."
–Zoltán Kodály, Hungarian composer and music educator
At The Academy, children learn to love music by listening, moving, playing games, singing, and playing instruments. Every stage of musical development builds on and incorporates the elements that preceded it. In kindergarten and Grade 1, students sing, learn simple folk dances and other forms of creative movement, play musical games, listen to sung storybooks, and play hand-held classroom instruments. The emphasis is on joyful self-expression, a growing ability to listen to others, and the relation of the individual to the group. Teaching songs entirely by ear, I use a largely Kodály-based approach to strengthen children's foundational pitch accuracy and their felt sense of rhythm. In Grades 2 and 3, students are introduced to solfège notation ("do re mi") and written rhythms. Using their voices, mallet percussion (xylophones and glockenspiels), Boomwhackers, bells, and hand percussion, students explore repertoire of increasing complexity from a variety of cultures and traditions. I draw heavily on the Orff Schulwerk approach, building from the simple to the complex as students master skills. I write many of the instrumental arrangements used in class, tailoring the repertoire to the particular strengths and needs of the group. In Grade 4, we begin reading from conventional treble staff notation, using the recorder as the primary instrument. By Grade 5, students are dancing, singing in unison and in harmony (and in multiple languages), sight-reading multipart instrumental music, and playing recorder, mallet percussion, and hand percussion. Fifth graders also complete Book 1 of Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory, the theory textbook that will carry them into and through the Upper School.
Regular musical performances are cornerstones of our community life, including a fall Performance Showcase, a Holiday Concert, Black History Month assembly, and Spring Concert. Students have the opportunity to take piano lessons after school with The Academy's piano teacher, Carolyn Erbele.