Music and Movement
Once a week, Pre-K children enjoy music and movement classes with a CAIS specialist teacher. Through singing, dancing, and playing small percussion, they use their imaginations and interact with their classmates while learning the elements of music and dance.
Kindergarten to Fifth Grade
In Kindergarten through fifth grade, we teach music and movement based on an approach to music education known as Orff Schulwerk. As described by composer Carl Orff, the creator of the approach, Orff Schulwerk offers “A music exclusively for children that could be played, sung and danced by them, but that could also in a similar way be invented by them—a world of their own.” A music exclusively for children—”a world of their own”—means that this approach recognizes the child’s need to move, touch, explore, experiment, discover and make connections in a playful, risk-encouraging atmosphere. Playing, singing and dancing ensures multiple approaches to training the musical intelligence and honors the diverse needs of the students.
Music and movement classes at CAIS provide an active, hands-on approach to understanding, practicing and creating music and movement. Using the Orff Schulwerk approach, students sing, learn folk dances, explore with movement and play pitched and unpitched percussion instruments. Our classes emphasize working together as a group as students grow to understand the elements of music and movement, and apply their understanding through creative expression.
As the students progress through the grades they explore the music and dance of many world cultures. We teach using authentic percussion instruments from those cultures; which include China, Ghana, Indonesia and others. Traditional and historical songs, dances and instrumental pieces are taught and performed.
Middle School Music and Movement
In World Music class, middle school students focus on the place of music and dance in world cultures. Sixth graders fulfill their special role as Chinese lion dancers for school events. In the spring, they connect with their social studies curriculum by learning modal music from ancient Greece and using it to accompany their performance of a Greek myth. Throughout the year, seventh graders are also relating to their social studies curriculum: in the fall, their study of music, dance, and storytelling form India connects with their study of Hinduism, and in the spring, they will learn and perform music and dance from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Eighth graders take an overview of musical genres and the lineage of contemporary popular music, focusing in particular on the West African and European heritage, including studying and playing Jazz music in three styles. At the end of the year, eighth graders will create an original story for their own performance piece.
The purpose of Orff Schulwerk is to awaken the artistic potential in every individual and offer a context in which this can be exercised. The Orff Schulwerk approach as a model for learning involves a much broader spectrum of artistic activity than is traditionally included in music. It is “never music alone but forms a unity with movement, dance and speech”(Carl Orff). It is not intended to develop highly accomplished performers. The emphasis is on process rather than performance; on participation by all, each at his or her own level; on the cultivation of skills for creating and developing ideas within music and dance rather than reproducing set forms. Learning results from the mutually stimulating interaction of instructor and students, the freedom and opportunity to take risks, and the accomplishment of creative tasks appropriate to each stage of development.
Active music making is the core of this philosophy, supporting both the conceptual and affective development of children. Active learners develop more thorough and better long-term understanding of the material and ideas involved. Children who regularly improvise and create their own dances and musical settings are uniquely prepared to solve problems in many other contexts.
Orff Schulwerk is a group model, requiring the cooperative interaction of everyone involved, including the instructor. It is important that artistic development occurs within a satisfying and supportive human environment. Tolerance, helpfulness, patience, and other cooperative attitudes must be cultivated consciously. The ensemble setting requires sensitivity to the total group and awareness of the role of each individual within it. Problem solving, improvisation, and the group composing process provide opportunities for developing leadership.
The critical thinking and problem solving tasks involved in Orff Schulwerk call upon both linear and intuitive intellectual capacities. The carrying out of creative ideas calls upon organizational abilities as well as artistic knowledge and skill.
(M. Shamrock/S. Kennedy)