THE MUSIC PROGRAM
"Music's ability to create connections between people means that it is a force for relating well, at the same time, relating well can be a resource for making more music."
- Susan B. Young, Music with the Under-Fours
THE HUNDRED LANGUAGES OF CHILDREN
make hypotheses, explore their environment, and discover connections and
meanings, they use many media to express and communicate their discoveries. In Reggio Emilia, Italy, the educators refer to these as the "hundred languages of children." At Fort Hill, specialists in visual arts and music support the teachers and children in using many languages. The specialists work with all the children in the school- infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
Music at Fort Hill
Like spoken language, musical ability is a basic human communication tool that we begin learning and using at birth, if not before. The music program at Fort Hill is designed to allow all children to develop their innate musical ability. It is an integral part of the school day so that children can enjoy hearing and making music as a part of their life at school. Children have access to musical instruments as they explore the world of sound and themselves as producers of music.
The music program at Fort Hill is a multi-faceted daily program that incorporates all ages from infancy through preschool. The curriculum is designed to blend the emergent curriculun philosophy of Reggio Emilia with the skill based focus of the First Steps in Music curriculum developed by Dr. John Feierabend of the Hartt School of Music at The University of Hartford.
The First Steps curriculum posits that a successful music program encourages children to be:
- Tuneful-to have tunes in their heads and to coordinate their voices to sing those tunes.
- Beatful-to feel the pulse of music and how that pulse is grouped in either 2s or 3s.
- Artful-to be moved by music in the many ways music can elicit a feelingful response.
With these three goals as guiding principles, the music program at Fort Hill encorages these types of musical behaviors in a variey of different ways.
The Music Studio is outfitted with a variety of percussion, string, and wind instruments. Children are encouraged to play and explore the different instruments in both structured and unstructured activities. Percussion is utilized often to encourage strong beat sense, and pitched instruments like bells, xylophones, and tone bars are used to encourage pitch sense. With a large open area for creative movement, the Big Common space where music sessions are most often held is the perfect location to move expressively to different styles and genres of music.
Community building and social development are central to the mission of Fort Hill. The Music Studio supports this mission through a variety of group songs, games, and dances. The multi-age environment of both the preschool and infant/toddler music sessions allow children of different developmental levels to observe, interact, and learn from each other.
The project approach is another fundamental element that guides the curriculum at Fort Hill. This approach to long-term, collaborative projects can be seen in the Music Studio in a variety of ways. Using technology to record and develop vocal or instrumental music is an essential element for long-term project work in the Music Studio. Collaborations with classroom curriculum, and with the Art Studio is another way that the Music Studio supports the implementation of long-term project work.
Above all else, the goal of the Music Studio is to create joy and enthusiasm through the making of music. It is wonderful to hear the children taking the songs and ideas from the Music Studio and incorporating them into their daily routines. Hearing children sing, create beats, and move with expression as they play, work, and interact indendently reflect the impact that the Music Studio makes.