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"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



As 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 draws major inspiration from the work of Susan Young (Music with the Under Fours, "Chasing Moonbeams") and her colleagues in our emphasis on observing, reflecting on, and supporting children's natural musical abilities. We also draw on the Music Learning Theory of Edwin Gordon in understanding the ways in which children learn music and the best way to provide the content and space for music learning.

Though free exploration and collaborative investigation remain a central part of the program, as children grow and new abilities and interests develop, we begin to offer more directed experiences. We see the presentation of ideas and the performances of adult musicians not as models to be copied but as provocations to inspire fuller and deeper investigations into the uses of sound and music to reflect on the human experience.

Our intention is to bring music more fully into the daily life of the children and adults at Fort Hill.  We foster a familiarity and awareness of the elements of sound and music so that we may use them as a language for expression and communication.  We also use music as a means of growing and sustaining our spirit of community at Fort Hill. 

We Value:

  • singing together
  • playing instruments
  • listening to varied types of music
  • exploring and experimenting with sound
  • composing our own music and songs
  • moving to music
  • working together in small groups to explore, create, and reflect on the elements of sound and music
  • the experience of musicians from the community visiting our school and sharing their music
  • musical traditions of the families in our school community
  • musical traditions of the greater Northampton and regional communities


Music in the Classroom:

The music teacher visits all the classrooms weekly, offering sound and music exploration as one of the activities from which children can choose. 

This activity may take the form of musical instruments offered for the children to explore, or a demonstration of an instrument or musical idea, or the music teacher may enter into an ongoing activity in the classroom, or a trip to the Music Room for interested children.

In any case, the emphasis is on adults and children investigating sound and music together in an atmosphere that recognizes that all are both teachers and learners, and encouraging all to develop their use of music as language.

The Music Room

The Music Room, like the Art Studio, is inspired by the Atelier in the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. It is not an isolated space for music and sound exploration. Instead, at Fort Hill, we view the studios as laboratories for thinking and making connections, which can then be brought back to inform our activities in the larger school community.

The Music Room is a place to see that thoughts and emotions can be expressed through sounds. In the words of Loris Malaguzzi, the studio is a place "for digging with one's own hands and one's own mind and for refining one's own eyes."

How does the Music Room work?

While much of the music program at Fort Hill takes place in the classroom and on the playground, integrated into the daily life of the children and adults who spend their days here, if a child shows a special interest or wants to pursue a specific idea related to sound or music, the music studio and teacher will be available for concentrated work to deepen and build on that inspiration.

What is in the Music Room?

In the Music Room you'll find a variety of musical instruments and other sound producers available for children to use in their explorations. You will also find a computer used both for listensing to music that other people have made and, most importantly, for children to record, review, and build on their sound and music explorations.










Preschool Program

Music Program

Visual Arts Program

Summer Program

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