Modern education is right to put a lot of emphasis on literacy. “Literacy” begins with the skill of recognizing and sounding out words. It extends to perceiving the meaning of words in sentences, and being able to create meaning by speaking to one another in words. Literate people write words as lists and reminders. They assemble words and can even abbreviate words in drafting texts and emails. All of these skills are implied in our idea of total literacy. But in training young children, we understand that a lot of preparation is needed to launch them on a literate path. They must learn the alphabet, phonics, and phonograms. As children learn the language, they first hear it spoken by a parent and imitate what they hear, articulating the sounds and sense of the language back to others. Hearing and imitating are basic to literacy. But they are not taught so much as experienced in everyday play and activity.
Music is similar to language. Its grammar–consisting not of letters and words–consists of pitches, rhythms, and meter. Its syntax consists of basic sounds and symbols. Music’s syntax melds into even greater structures–songs and sonatas and symphonies–which are the paragraphs and essays and novels of music. Musical training is like learning to read: a continuum that begins with hearing spoken words, connecting sound to symbol, interpreting symbols in context, then codifying meaning in our own hand. Even so, musical training begins with hearing sounds, continues with interpreting its written symbols, and matures when students are able to hear sounds in relationship to other sounds across time both in listening and playing.
Singing School (K through 3rd grade)
In all levels of music, we seek to train up and equip the students to worship the Triune God with joyful and thankful hearts. Additionally, the Bible requires skillful worship. For us this is an imperative that our students read music, understand how music works, and are proficient singers and players.
Our curriculum is designed to foster musical skill in three ways:
Calendar: September 7 – May 19
Trinity Reformed Church
101 E. Palouse River Drive
Moscow, ID 83843
Schola Cantorum is a music education program sponsored by the Conservatory of Music at New Saint Andrews College which teaches these skills. We begin with children who are five years old–about the age that they are beginning to read words at an elementary level. We teach them simple songs and games that engage their bodies and imaginations the same way that stories and rhymes hook them in their growth in language literacy. As they develop, we introduce them to musical symbols representing those they have experienced in singing and play.
They learn to write these symbols by hand and interpret musical sounds by writing down what they hear. As growth continues, we teach them an awareness of harmony in which they hear their own part in partnership with others. In the end, not all of the children will become concert pianists or violinists, but they will have learned to read music on their own, begun to understand how music works, become fascinated by harmony, and have both blessed others and received blessing in performing music together.