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School House Rock Group

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.

Music by Age Group

Toddler (ages 1-3)

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 (ages 3-6)

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.

Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)

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:

  • Beginning to understand the context of macrobeat/microbeat in usual duple and usual triple meters.
  • Learning to read musical notation using the treble staff and basic rhythmic patterns.
  • Developing proper instrumental technique using classroom instruments, Orff instruments and recorders.
  • Identifying the instruments of the orchestra, organized by family, both visually and aurally.
  • Verbally associating sounds with sight, including note names, meter, tonal solfège and expressive qualities such as dynamics, tempo, articulation and instrumentation.

Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)

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:

  • Performing in a choral ensemble to develop skills such as blend, singing posture, proper breath support and unified vowel sounds
  • Developing the ability to perform harmony, partner-songs and rounds.
  • Identifying, performing and distinguishing between various tonalities and meters.
  • Recognizing and discovering characteristics of musical genres and forms.
  • Applying previously learned musical knowledge to compose, improvise and perform pieces.
  • Learning to read music in both treble and bass clef.
  • Writing about music using a thoughtful and analytical approach.
  • Identifying a variety of musical notational symbols in both choral and instrumental scores.

Middle School (ages 12-14)

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.

Music Program Staff

Joe Ambrosino

Joe Ambrosino
Music Teacher
B.M.A.S., University of Delaware
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.