The Music Program at Washington Montessori School takes advantage of children’s natural interest and appreciation for music. Our goal is to increase students’ understanding and enjoyment of music, enhance their ability to express themselves through sound and movement and to develop their nonverbal affective communication.
Young Children’s Community
In our Young Children’s Community, students are exposed to the fundamentals of music on a daily basis through integrated materials and activities. In addition, YCC classes have formal music with Matilda once a week. Matilda joins the classroom and leads the children in a variety of songs and movement.
In Lower School, music is taught using rhymes, poems, stories, songs, traditional singing games, dances, the Montessori Bells and Tone bars, the Montessori singing and clapping charts, Curwen hand signs and rhythmic notation cards. LS students learn the C Major scale and its parts, pentatonic, chromatic and minor scales, and become familiar with rhythmic notation an the sound of quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes, rests, triplets and sixteenth notes. Each Lower School class has Music twice a week with Matilda (once in the morning and once in the afternoon). All three Lower School classes come together once a week for Sing Along with Matilda.
Lower & Upper Elementary
Elementary is a very important time for musical skill development and growth in music and movement awareness. At this level, Music classes meet three times a week and include individual or small group instruction, music listening, and chorus. Lower Elementary students meet with Matilda and Upper Elementary students meet with Kate. Basic music skills are taught through games, songs and dance as well as specific singing, listening, movement and written exercises. We use Montessori Bells, Tone Bars and musical materials, ORFF and Kodaly sources, the folk songs and dances of America and other countries and classical music of the Western world. Third-year students meet once a week with Sarah Jane to begin recorder studies. Basic reading skills, proper posture, fingerings, breathing, tone productions, phrasing and rhythmic articulation are emphasized. Students continue recorder instruction withKate throughout Upper Elementary. In addition, 4th and 5th year students use music skills to compose and perform original pieces of music for their Residency Performance in the fall. See pictures and video from the 2017 Spring Elementary Concerts.
The philosophy behind the choral groups at WMS is rooted in the belief that, by singing in an ensemble, one learns to perform musically at a high artistic level, contribute to the community of the school, build strong interpersonal relationships with other members of the ensemble, and at the same time, form deeper connections to the greater world. Music and singing exist all over the world and have for all of human history. By singing in chorus from Lower Elementary through Middle School, students will have the opportunity to sing in many different languages, styles, meters and keys, dance and move, provide instrumental accompaniments, and learn about varied cultures and historical periods, all while performing outstanding literature at an exemplary level.
Participating in ensembles enables the children to learn to sing using proper vocal technique, on pitch and with excellent tone quality. They also practice important ensemble skills such as active listening, singing in unison and harmony, and collaborating with others.
At the Middle School level, students have instruction in Guitar with Kate and World Drumming with John Marshall as well as the choice to perform in the MS Chorus led by Kate.
Before or after their semester of World Drumming, Kate leads students through independent work to build skills and techniques in guitar performance. Study is focused on mastering basic chords, incorpating rhythmic strumming, and learning to read simple tablature. The class is designed for each student to work at his or her own pace, building on prior musical experiences, and adding skills as time allows. Students can collaborate to work and/or perform together, learn to sing while accompanying themselves, or may choose to practice electric guitar or ukulele once basic guitar skills are mastered.
MS World Drumming
Middle School students work with John once a week for half the year in a drumming ensemble. Throughout the semester, students rehearse drumming repertoire from all over the world, contribute as active members of a musical ensemble, improvise and compose patterns and pieces, and learn and discuss drumming styles in relation to culture and history. Students perform once a year in the winter or spring concert, and also at various school ceremonies and the Earth Day Celebration.
The Middle School Chorus is a comprehensive continuation of the elementary school choral program. It is a non-auditioned, elective chorus, and meets once a week for 40 minutes. The roughly 45 member ensemble sings as a mixed chorus (SAB and SATB music), with repertoire from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods. The MS Chorus performs in the school’s Winter Solstice Celebration, at the Holiday in the Depot event in Washington Depot, and at the Middle School Arts Night concerts in the winter and spring. They have also performed the National Anthem at New Britain Rock Cats, Hartford Yard Goats, and Hartford Wolfpack games, and attend adjudicated festivals and/or host choral clinicians on site. See pictures and video from the 2017 Spring MS Concert.
WMS students also have the opportunity to take private music lessons before or after school. Interested parents should contact MAP Coordinator, Adriana Varanko at firstname.lastname@example.org.