From kindergarten through fourth grade, our teachers use several methods to teach music, including the Orff Schulwerk approach. Orff Schulwerk is a hands-on, physical, fun, and multicultural program that engages children holistically—body, mind and spirit. We also incorporate critical skills such as ensemble playing and music theory through focused dance, singing and music games.
The kindergartners begin their study of music by learning about rhythm. They explore the beats in their own names, starting with their first name and moving on to the combination of their first and last. They then sing all of the names together to learn about polyrhythms--the use of multiple different melodies at the same time. They will return to these concepts throughout their lower school careers, eventually gaining the opportunity to write their own song lyrics, learning how to translate rhythms into musical notation, and understanding how to organize them to fit particular time signatures.
Over the course of their lower school careers, the students study quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes and rests, dynamics, mood, tempo, time signature, harmony, intervals, thirds, improvisation, and much more. They listen to a wide variety of music from many genres and locations, play games that increase their musical understanding, learn how to play instruments ranging from the xylophone to the drums, and engage in semester-long studies of particular songs which exemplify the concepts under discussion.
Two of the most cherished CDS traditions
are the Grandparents/Special Friends Day Assembly and the Winter Performance, both of which are centered on music. Our lower-school students enthusiastically participate in both events; you can find them singing songs, performing in the xylophone orchestra, and harmonizing with the middle school singers. It's the perfect culmination of their musical studies, and a great opportunity to demonstrate what they've learned to the entire CDS community.