Teaching the language of music
Tuesday December 12, the eighth grade middle school music students and upper school orchestra class presented a winter concert. Each of the three groups that performed showcased music learned since the beginning of the school year.
In the first half of MYP Year 3 (8th grade), students collaborated around music that uses dotted quarter-eighth rhythms and has accidentals. The “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and “Caissons Go Rolling Along” were not only enjoyable for the students to play, but also provided the perfect classroom textbook musically speaking.
Two groups of MYP Year 3 students performed, representing a broad range of musical experience and ability levels. The first group played musical selections for students in the earlier stages of the learning process. The second group of eighth graders presented “Caissons Go Rolling Along,” which audience members recognized as the tune to the CDS Spirit Song. They also performed “Hedwig’s Theme” from the popular Harry Potter movie soundtrack arranged for middle school orchestra.
As students move into upper school and MYP Year 4 and Year 5 (grades 9 and 10), they collaborate around music with more complex combinations of rhythmic structures. The Upper School Orchestra performed four selections including “This is Halloween,” “Rey’s Theme” from Star Wars, and “Two Hornpipes” from The Pirates of the Caribbean. These musical selections are not only relevant to our students, but are also a challenging text for the study of combined intermediate rhythms.
CDS Upper School musicians try to realize an artistic intention as a group; and to make characters come to life through the musical performance, the group needs to employ a large range of creative behaviors.
The skills needed to creating music as an ensemble are important to our students’ musical development from the very beginning of the process. These are skills that are introduced in MYP1 (6th grade) music and continue to develop through the entire middle years program.
Ensemble players fine tune real world collaborative skills (ATL Skills).
- Focus and impulse control in an environment that can be distracting.
- Empathy: Being prepared, focused, and playing well for the benefit of the group as opposed to playing for praise
- Character: individual responsibility and accountability to the group
- Thinking together
CDS offers a rich music program that begins in preschool. We are extremely fortunate to have Amy Callahan and James Mayo as our MYP music instructors. They are dedicated professionals who inspire and challenge their students to ever increasing musicianship and performance skills. These outstanding teachers adeptly work with groups of students with varying skill levels and a random array of instruments to create a collaborative learning environment in which students learn to bring their individual accomplishments together to create something greater than themselves through music.