The classical approach to education permeates all subjects, including music, and offers a rich structure for learning. A strong foundation of knowledge is built in the Grammar stage, which they can draw on in the Logic and Rhetoric stages. The music curriculum at Covenant progressively teaches the elements of music such as dynamic markings, note names and values, tempo markings, and singing and listening skills, then immediately links this knowledge with experiential interaction. In studying music, it is essential for students to not only listen and learn about composer or musical elements, but to experience this musical knowledge right away in order to ultimately have the ability to create, discuss, and understand music more deeply.
Carl Orff, founder of the Orff Approach to teaching musical concepts, puts it this way:
“Elemental music is never just music. It is bound up with movement, dance, and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate, in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer.”
A key element of classical education is its focus on creating an environment that cultivates joy and love of learning. My desire for my students is that they not only participate in music-making, but that they also experience wonder knowing that God created music for our enjoyment and His glory. One day, I played the piece “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” by Edvard Grieg, for my second-grade class. After it ended in dramatic flair, one of my student’s eyes grew large and her eyes lit up. She was nearly speechless, but managed to declare, “Wow! That was amazing!” Her expression and wonder struck me. She had experienced the joy of music and her love of music grew a little more that day. Another way that I love to cultivate joy is through play. My goal is to engage the students in experiencing music or a musical concept and then “play” while learning and developing the musical ideas that are being taught.
One of my favorite aspects to a classical approach is the emphasis on encouraging students to make connections between new ideas and previous knowledge and experience. My goal is to create learning experiences that hint at connections, encouraging the students to cross the bridge and make the connection themselves. These connections solidify the concepts in the minds of the students and bring a great sense of success and delight.
It is my joy to teach a subject that I am so passionate about in a way that truly allows my students to understand, experience, and love music.