Musical education is an important part of the curriculum at Shu Ren. Kindergarten through 5th Grade students enjoy music class each week, led by Jeff Luna-Sparks, aka “Jingle Jeff.” The school puts on three performances each year: a Holiday Concert, a Lunar New Year celebration, and an all-school musical. Pre-school students also have music as part of their curriculum and participate in the Lunar New Year celebration. For students who wish to gain additional experience in musicianship and performance, Jeff conducts an after-school chorus called The Shu Ren International School Chorus.
The music classes incorporate the Kodály philosophy of music which originated with the Hungarian composer and educator, Zoltan Kodály (1882-1967) (click here to hear his name pronounced). We believe that everyone is born with musical aptitude which should be developed as early as possible. The aim is to instill a love of music in each child.
Singing is the foundation of children’s musical development. The singing voice is the musical instrument of children that accompanies them wherever they go. Singing in-tune is a skill that all children can learn.
The Kodály approach is a dynamic, exciting way of teaching and learning based on the developmental readiness of the child. The process involves a sequential layering of skills and concepts designed to build success for every child.
Music education also develops the child’s intellectual and social faculties. When a child plays music games based on the Kodály method she learns to express her feelings with confidence using mime and gesture. Learning the words, melody, and movements of a song help develop the child’s memory. Understanding beat and rhythm develops through the use of movement activities. The development of singing in-tune comes by hearing the song at seven different times sung within the child’s range, joining in the singing, and by isolating the intervals in songs. Furthermore, the duality of learning music and developing intellectually promotes the simultaneous use of the right and left sides of the child’s brain.
As the children grow, music classes change to meet the developmental levels of the children. The classes incorporate the use of puppets, visual aids, interactive materials and song games. The focus of each class will be to develop the singing voice and each age-appropriate music concept.
As the elementary children learn to read and write musical rhythms and melodies in a sequential/developmental plan they are able to create their own songs. Children who study the Kodály method will be able to read or write any piece of music whether they have seen or heard it in the past. When Kodály students begin to play instruments, they learn two or three times as fast as students with no musical background. Typically, these students reach the advanced level of study after one year of instrumental study on wind instruments and after two years on strings. The Kodály method encourages children to learn rhythms, melodies and music reading and writing as separate skills that are then combined when instrumental or advanced vocal studies are attempted. This method lowers frustration and stress for students in advanced studies and creates a feeling of success and accomplishment at every level of study in ages one to ten years of age and beyond.