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Thursday, December 18, 2014
 
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Music Classes
Dear Parents and Teachers,
 
    I am so excited to begin Music classes with your children this week! I want to share with you some of the reasons why Music is so important in the lives of young children. Through the year I will be sharing more with you on this topic.
 
    I teach Music in the mode and philosophy of the Orff-Schulwerk. This philosophy contends that music and dance are important in all cultures...as important to survival as water and air! Orff teachers believe that we become whole when we make music and when we dance. We use our hands and feet, our bodies, our senses, our intellect, and our emotions. Through music and movement we experience freedom and at the same time a natural order which needs constant renewal.
 
   In the Orff-Schulwerk (or Schoolwork), Carl Orff developed a philosophy of music for children that incorporates rhythms, chants, rhymes, and games from our own traditions. Many tunes are based on the pentatonic scale which is the do-to-do scale leaving off the fa and ti or the 4th and 7th steps. That is why when we play the Orff instruments you will see some bars “missing”. They are set up this way so they all sound good together. The Orff way of teaching also uses a wide variety of un-pitched instruments.
 
   Orff teachers believe that the voice is the most important instrument. You may hear the children say that I tell them their voice is the most important instrument because that is the instrument that God gave them.
 
   One goal of the Orff-Schulwerk is maximum class participation. Because of this, the Schulwerk contributes to the skill developments of listening, analyzing, problem solving, performing, reading, creating, and ultimately conceptual understanding. The result is a music education based on learning by doing- always directed toward the quality of aesthetic experience which enriches life!
 
     Musical activities also provide children with important experiences that help them develop physical coordination, timing, memory, visual, aural, and language skills. With repeated exposure, they develop self-paced learning, mental concentration, and a heightened personal and social awareness. (And you thought all they did when they come to me is bang on instruments and jump!)
 
   You may hear your children sing some songs that they have learned here or you may hear your children make up their own songs. Both are great..both creative and re-creative activities promote learning!
 
   One developmental task of Early Childhood is to encourage children to use positive social skills. Through observation and participation in a music class, every child can enter the community of music makers. Orff-Schulwerk and early childhood learning are natural partners where teachers and children are building relationships and constructing knowledge through playful encounters with music...thus setting a sturdy stage for a lifetime of musical learning.
 
   As brains develop, neural pathways increase for higher functioning levels. Through music, layers of brain cells become specialized and send information to other layers optimizing the brain's bilateralism. Music more fully involves brain functions in both hemispheres than any other activity! Studies have shown that students with musical training consistently perform higher on I.Q. Tests including the SAT because music activities exercise neural firing patterns that benefit learning, memory, math, science and reading skills.
 
   This all being said, Music learning has to be fun to be effective! If it's not fun it's not worth doing! I have a couple of signs in my classroom that remind me daily of why I do what I do. One says “We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” Could it be that we stop learning then too? What a shame that would be. I hope I don't ever grow old! Looking forward to a fun year!
                                                                                         Musically Yours,
                                                                                         Sheila Alderman

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