The elementary music program at Burke's involves every girl, encouraging the development of her inherent musicianship and love of music. Burke's understands the vital role music plays in the growth of the whole child: its contributions to the intellectual, emotional, social, and physical realms of learning. Through active "hands-on" music-making, each girl is given a wide variety of experiences in which to learn about, appreciate, and prepare for a life-long involvement in the performing arts, as both performer and appreciative, knowledgeable audience.
Music is part of the fabric of everyday life at Burke's. Music often is integrated with classroom themes and subject areas. Whole school events and assemblies are times for singing and dancing, drawing the community together. Music is used to welcome the year, celebrate events, honor passages in time; spontaneous singing is often heard as you walk the school grounds.
Each Lower School class has music twice a week in the cozy and delightful Lower School Music Room. Just entering the room is a treat: seeing shelves filled with instruments from around the world, specially designed "Orff" instruments, and of course, the Burke's Chinese Lions! During any given music session there are a variety of activities: a circle dance might be followed by a singing game, which may then lead into a music reading activity at the staff board. The girls might explore a poem brought from their classroom by creating a movement piece or choosing instruments to illustrate it. Another day they may accompany a song with body percussion and then transfer the rhythm to xylophone.
The strands of activity styles and curricular standards are woven together over the course of the year. The teacher's art is in balancing and building a "spiral curriculum" that strengthens, refines, and introduces new skills and understandings through the years. This "spiral curriculum" draws from a variety of music pedagogies, including the Orff
The Orff philosophy of music and movement education (Orff-Schulwerk)
is a multi-dimensional approach using speech and poetry, movement and dance, drama and song, improvisation, and work with basic instruments. It begins with what is natural to the child: chants, clapping games, folk songs, and dances. Direct experience — imitation and exploration — builds concrete skills for improvisation, which then leads to composition and notation. Through cooperative ensemble work, creative thinking, and invention, unique musical experiences are shaped from the responses and abilities of the children.
viewpoint places singing at the foundation of musical development. Its philosophy proposes that a clear, sequential musical development in the formative years will foster lifelong skills in singing, literacy and notation, and appreciation. Kodaly believed that for a child's music education "only the best is good enough."
At Burke's, our best means that music and dance from many cultures, time periods and styles are used throughout the curriculum. Music is chosen and classes designed in alignment with the National Standards
for Music as well as the California Standards
. Materials used to develop musical skills also strengthen fine and gross motor skills, visual and auditory memory, and intellectual and creative understandings. Each student contributes according to her own ability in a supportive and nurturing environment where the rewards include a growing confidence in one's individual skills and the pleasure of making music with others.