INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PROGRAM
Circle of Seasons’ Instrumental Music Program for elementary school students provides children with the gift of learning how to create music. Music is a subject and an art that has been shown over time to enhance learning in many traditional subjects, mathematics in particular. COS teachers view music as teaching children a different language, one that connects them to each other and to the human experience. But the school’s approach to the Instrumental Music Program not just academic; it is therapeutic as well.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013-2014, the number of children and youth ages 3 to 21 receiving special education services was 6.5 million, or about 13% of all public school students. At COS the statistic is higher: 20% (one-fifth) of our students qualify for some type of therapeutic intervention. Learning to play a musical instrument is beneficial to all students, but for children with special needs it offers an experiential learning opportunity that simultaneously develops cognitive abilities, physical abilities and social skills.
Circle of Seasons Charter School’s Instrumental Music Program is focused on age- and developmentally-appropriate experiences with musical instruments. All grades utilize instruments such as xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels and percussion instruments from around the world. Instrument programs for each specific grade are as follows:
First Grade: Students learn to play the tone flute, of which there are three different types. Students are grouped according to the type of flute. Each flute plays three notes and is associated with a bird based on the letters of notes the flute plays (e.g. Avocets, Doves, Eagles). Altogether, the class can play a total of five notes when they play together. Students also play the lyre, an instrument similar to a harp. They continue to learn to play the lyre through second and third grade.
Second Grade: Students learn the pentatonic flute, which gives them the ability to play all five notes individually. Children develop their fine motor skills through mastering the difficult fingering of the instrument. Children also learn patience and control through mastery of the quiet breath; persistence through the mastery of playing simple songs; and respect for craftsmanship through the care of their flute.
Third Grade: Children progress from the pentatonic to the diatonic flute, which expands the number of notes they can play as individuals and allows them to play more complex melodies and harmonies as a group.
Fourth Grade: Students continue the diatonic flute and learn a stringed instrument, either a violin or cello.
Fifth Grade: Students learn the soprano or alto recorder and continue with violin or cello.
EITC grants from the COS Foundation to the Instrumental Music Program will provide much-needed instruments to students who cannot afford them, as well as practice instruments for students to take home to support and/or further their learning. EITC grants will also provide opportunities for students to take field trips to experience live music performances and to bring musicians to the school to meet with and perform for students.
Learning to play an instrument, both as an individual and in an ensemble, teaches lifelong skills that help students develop academically, collaboratively and creatively. Students learn an awareness of themselves and of those around them. They learn to listen to each other and to express themselves both individually and with their peers. Research continues to demonstrate the importance of instrumental music education in school and the positive impact it has on our children.