"Sing unto the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things...Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn--shout for joy before the LORD, the King" (Psalm 98:1, 4-6).
At Covenant Classical School we firmly believe that music forms a central and important role in education as well as in the life of every believer. God has graciously given us this gift of music. It brings refreshment to our souls and with it, we glorify God and extol His name.
As far back in time as we can know, music has been an important facet of every culture. We can trace the study of music back to the writings of the early Greeks, beginning with Pythagoras (500 B.C.). Plato and Aristotle's doctrines of the nature of music were foundational components to education in the Middle Ages. During the Medieval Period, music had significant emphasis in the quadrivium as a speculative science (musica speculativa). In addition, many students aspired to enter clerical orders and their musical training was primarily practical in nature (musica practica). The reformer, Martin Luther, benefited from the study of both musica speculativa and musica practica. He was a strong proponent of music education in the schools. He recommended that musical training should be given to children of all ages. He suggested, "All children, large and small, should practice music daily, the first hour in the afternoon."
In the classical Christian school, one aspect of our methodology is the integration of all subjects. We have seen how music is useful to aid grammar students in the memorization of facts and doctrines. However, the study of music in and of itself is a tool to unlock the beauty and mysteries of the world God has made. Music is the champion of integration--within the study of music lies the science of sound, mathematics, history, poetry, philosophy, and theology. Music study is also beneficial to one's character development in the areas of perseverance, self-discipline, and teamwork.
Foundational to a classical Christian education is the pursuit of goodness, beauty, and truth. Most Christian schools have been strong in the area of truth and goodness. However, beauty has either gone the way of the popular entertainment industry or it is sorely neglected or avoided all together. The study of aesthetics is not an easy task, but one that Christians must undertake.
The arts in any given culture are a reflection of what kind of worldview is at the core of that culture. In the popular culture of our day, who would deny that music takes a central role in the promulgation of an individualistic, youth-focused, and materialistic society? If this is true, how important it is to reclaim this art and set it at the feet of Christ! What better way can Christ's people take back the culture for godly music than to commit ourselves to educate diligently, thoughtfully, and patiently our children to pursue and relfect what is beautiful.
The Music Program at Covenant
At Covenant, students are instructed in the fundamentals of music theory and vocal and instrumental music, and are encouraged to select some area of vocal or instrumental music to pursue in depth. Students develop an awareness of and appreciation for various musical styles and forms. They listen to the works of great composers, learn about the history of the works and the relationship between music and culture, and describe and discuss their opinions of the works.
In the earlier years of the grammar stage, much attention is given to listening to instrumental and vocal music in order to develop an aural "vocabulary." Students also learn songs by rote as well as engaging in eurorhythmic types of activities. Alongside this process of giving an "aural vocabulary," the students begin the process of reading music. A wide range of music is introduced from the periods of the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century.
In the logic stage of music, students are given the opportunity to order music knowledge in a variety of ways. In music history, they will trace the development of music practices and put these developments into a historical and philosophical context. In music theory, they will be challenged to further their understanding of language and notation of music. In music performance, they will be introduced to hymns and songs from the various historical periods of music.
In the rhetoric stage of music, students are provided with opportunities to put into practice all that they have learned in the grammar and logic stages. The rhetoric stage focuses mainly on performance as well as the continuation of music theory, composition, and conducting. This course is designed to meet the musical needs and interests of the serious music student, students who desire to further their knowledge of music, or for students who intend to enter the ministry.