Music is an innate gift given at birth. Wilmington Montessori School provides a developmentally appropriate music curriculum that nurtures this gift to its fullest potential.
Lessons engage students in activities exploring steady rhythm, melody, harmony and the diverse expressive qualities of music through speaking, singing, moving, creating, notating and listening. Songs, rhymes and finger plays foster the development of steady beat and audiation. Pitch is cultivated through echo, call-and-response, partner songs, rounds and harmony in the upper grades. Rhythm is explored through movement and listening activities accompanied by props including scarves, beanbags, parachutes and percussion instruments.
The music room at WMS is a wonderful environment for music education. Xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels, congas and bongos greet the students as they enter, and various interesting percussion instruments line the shelves and cabinets. These are the “tools” that we use to understand more expressive musical concepts like tempo, dynamics, articulation and form; preparing young minds to understand tonal and rhythmic context. As students progress, this context is applied to musical notation. Our curriculum incorporates elements from several pedagogical streams, primarily Gordon’s Music Learning Theory, resulting in lessons based solely on the best practices in the field of music education.
- Toddler (ages 1-3)
- Primary (ages 3-6)
- Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)
- Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)
- Middle School (ages 12-14)
Music lessons playfully engage toddlers and encourage individual response. Activities include pitch (vocal), movement and instrumental exploration. Songs, rhymes and finger plays nurture the development of steady beat. Pitch development is cultivated through echo songs, call-and-response songs and solo singing opportunities.
Primary students visit the music room on a weekly basis and perform as a group in a concert each spring. Along with developing core musical skills, making music together is an important social learning experience in which the children begin to experience how the whole can be more than the sum of its parts.
Musical goals for Primary students include:
- Developing a sense of steady beat on various percussion instruments, including drums, bongos, congas, triangles, rhythm sticks, Orff instruments, etc.
- Developing a singing voice in both the melodic and rhythmic realm of music.
- Participating in movement activities that focus on coordination of body and breath while singing.
- Starting to distinguish between musical qualities of loud/soft, fast/slow, high/low and choppy/smooth.
In the Lower Elementary Program, students attend music class on a weekly basis and perform in winter production that includes singing, use of percussion instruments, simple choreography and spoken lines. As children's reading skills develop, they are also able to begin to learn to read musical notation, and as their mathematical understanding develops, so does their ability to understand musical rhythms.
Goals of the Lower Elementary music program include:
Upper Elementary students attend music class on a weekly basis and also meet weekly as a choral ensemble. Each year, students put on two musical performances - a talent show and a musical theater production. Along with developing their musicianship, these children have the opportunity to learn to operate lighting and sound systems, create sets, assist with choreography and more in order to create a piece of art that is truly greater than the sum of its parts. They gain a solid musical foundation and the confidence to pursue their musical interests as they move on to middle school and beyond.
Goals of the Upper Elementary music program include:
Middle school students continue to study a wide range of music. They learn choral works in various languages and tonalities, explore the context of what makes these pieces unique and develop their vocal technique and ear. Music theory is introduced in a progressive manner, which continues to improve students’ knowledge of meter, melody and phrase, musical forms and other advanced characteristics of analyzing music. Students have opportunities to compose their own works and improvise on percussion and technological instruments. In addition, project-based learning provides students with the opportunity to improve their appreciation of music, its history and the many ways music is a part of our world.
M. Ed., Applied Education Technology, Wilmington University
Favorite Montessori Moment: My favorite Montessori moment happened when I was teaching music to a toddler group. I had brought a selection of instruments and juggling scarves for the children to use. I had a grand lesson planned: each child would start by playing a steady beat on maracas, then we would express rhythms through movement with scarves. This was quickly turned aside when one student approached the plastic bucket of maracas and rather than pick one out to play, he dumped the contents on to the floor and proceeded to wear the bucket like a helmet. He danced around the room to the music balancing the bucket on his head. I broke out laughing. At WMS, creativity will express itself as it wants. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to embrace it, nurture it, and watch it grow.
Favorite Montessori Moment: Throughout the year, WMS dedicates a day to celebrate grandfriends, moms and dads. Family members spend the morning in their children's classrooms, experiencing their work firsthand. These special days are capped off with a musical performance and reception in our Great Room. Grandfriends' Day was the first WMS performance I conducted and something I'll always remember. These days bring parents and grandparents from all levels together as a community to see our programs and be appreciated for all of their hard work.