At Wolcott school we believe arts education is a basic and necessary component of a balanced educational program. Wolcott's commitment to arts experiences for all students is a central element of the school's mission statement:
The mission of Wolcott Elementary School, as a Higher Order Thinking School with a rigorous educational program, is to ensure every child will achieve a high standard of academic excellence through an integrated approach using arts, academics, and democracy in a safe, structured, and positive learning environment for children.
The Connecticut Commission on the Arts recognized Wolcott as an exemplary school for arts education. The national HOT (Higher Order Thinking) School program is based on Wolcott's model of arts integration.
All students receive sixty minutes of classroom music instruction per week. Optional instrumental instruction begins in the fourth grade. Students select an instrument and receive a weekly thirty- minute group lesson. Fourth grade string players receive two thirty-minute lessons per week.
The K-5 vocal music curriculum is based on the teaching and philosophy of the Hungarian musician, Zoltan Kodaly. He believed that singing was essential and all children deserve to experience their culture through folk song. He also advocated the “sound before sight” method of training the child to hear and produce the musical concepts prior to learning the written musical language.
The Elementary Instrumental program provides students with an in depth experience of learning to play a band or orchestra instrument. Students gain a further understanding of music reading as it pertains to their instrument, and they learn the necessary ensemble skills for performing with others.
In addition to the required music classes, children may advance through different levels of performing ensembles, according to the age and experience of the student.
Led by Mr. Rhone, our school's vocal music teacher, the choir mixes traditional songs and modern arrangements to create a culturally diverse presentation that both amazes and delights audiences each year.
THE WEST HARTFORD MUSIC EDUCATION PROGRAM
Philosophical Overview The West Hartford Public Schools nurtures every student’s ability to perform, create and respond to music of diverse cultures and historic periods. Music is a key component in the development of the whole person and is a universal expression of the human spirit. A life-long involvement with music enables the student to grow emotionally, intellectually and socially.
Importance of Music to Education Music is an integral part of a child’s education. Skills learned through music reinforce and improve learning in many subject areas, such as reading, math, language, visual art, and physical education.
In recent years much brain research has been undertaken to define the positive effects of music education. The noted Harvard professor, Howard Gardner, identifies music intelligence as one of the eight styles of learning for students. Other researchers have uncovered some significant results, such as:
• Primary Students who learn to read music while learning to read language achieve more positive results in their reading development. - R. Cutietta, University of Arizona
• First and second graders who received sequenced singing and art lessons perform better in math and reading than students who received standard arts instruction. -M. Gardiner, A. Fox, Brown University and Providence Music School
• Disadvantaged preschoolers display dramatic improvements in spatial reasoning ability after music training. Spatial IQ is crucial for higher brain functions such as complex mathematics. G. Shaw: “Early music training can enhance a child’s ability to reason.” -F. Rauscher, G. Shaw, University of California
• Students with coursework/experience in arts instruction scored 51 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 39 points higher on the math portion of the SAT than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. -Profiles from the College Board, 1995
Development of Musical Skills
Singing is the foundation of all music skills in the elementary vocal music curriculum. Using grade appropriate songs, singing games and rounds, music skills are sequentially taught and divided into five content areas:
• Students learn to sing grade appropriate songs in tune.
• Simple note patterns are extracted from song material such as “sol” and “mi”. These melody notes are called solfa (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do).
• The melodic patterns become more complex in each grade level.
• Performing with a steady beat is essential in developing rhythmic skills.
• Initially, children will sing and clap simple rhythmic patterns, using quarter & eighth notes which are referred to as “ta” and “ti-ti.”
• The rhythmic patterns become more complex in each grade level.
Reading & Writing
• Reading and writing involve responding to rhythmic and melodic notation.
• Students demonstrate reading skills by decoding and performing written rhythms and melodies.
• Writing skills include rhythms and placing notes on the music staff
• In grades K-5, students combine singing with a rhythmic or melodic accompaniment.
• In grades 3-5, students progress to singing 2-3 part songs in large and small group settings.
• Form is the organization of musical patterns.
• Students first recognize the phrases and then learn how they are organized.