Music is embedded as an essential element of the learning community that enhances the aesthetic and academic value of every student, faculty and family member of The College School. Through singing, chanting, dancing, and instrument playing, students create original compositions and participate in the musical expressions of many cultures. Students are not only able to compose, read and perform music; they are able to critically assess and discuss music using traditional musical lexicon.
Modeled on Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman's Orff-Schulwerk, a simple and consistent philosophy governs the music learning for all our students: let students create their own music. Speaking in a rhythmic and dramatic context, singing, instrument playing, and movement serve as unified media for students to explore, improvise and compose their own music. Musical composition and improvisation initiate students into a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure of music. Learning becomes meaningful as it brings intrinsic satisfaction to the learner, and satisfaction arises from the ability to use acquired knowledge for the purpose of creating. From these creations, students initiate critical conversations regarding the essential elements of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, texture and form. These elements serve as the foundation to analyze the relationship between music, history, culture, and the other arts.
The curriculum throughout the grades follows the historical evolution of music. Rhythm is considered the starting point with natural language patterns serving as the basis for rhythmic development. Simple word series lead to challenging examples in mixed and changing meters. Students play traditional instruments, ranging from various drums to xylophones and marimbas.
All learning and performing opportunities take place within a group context to promote social responsibility. Students collaborate as a group member who can confidently contribute the best of his or her own abilities as well as respect the contributions of others. Collaborative music making transpires in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of creating and sharing aesthetic experiences with others.
Musical skills and understanding develop as students grow older and become increasingly responsible for completing and solving musical problems and contributing to the total learning process. As students continue to discover the musical elements by experimenting, selecting, evaluating, and combining materials, certain musical experiences are recognized as unique and are shared with the school community; these performances come directly from the student-directed classroom. Students are regularly invited to perform and discuss music throughout the region. As a result, every student is given the respect of being an active musician.
The College School has designed and implemented a music program that supports the school's overall mission to provide a climate that fosters curiosity for learning, intrinsic value, and collaboration between a community of learners. Students continue to acquire a musical competence, an aesthetic judgment, an appreciation for many diverse musical expressions, and intrinsic self-worth. Musicians at The College School are committed to enhancing the aesthetic value of daily life within the school and greater communities in which they live.