Musical Philosophies at Sherman
While there have been numerous books written on music education, generally music educators focus on three main philosophies or approaches. Zoltan Kodaly, Edward Gordon and Carl Orff have had an enormous influence on music education since the mid 20th century. While each has a unique outlook, all three share a love for children and finding a way to make music come alive for children.
Carl Orff's approach to music education is most widely used at Sherman School. Orff believed that learning for small children comes through play. He believed that by creating activities which imitate normal child play, the teacher can maximize the child's creativity. Further, the music class should be the child's laboratory to create his or her own music. At Sherman, children are often engaged in playful activities and asked to modify them, or create their own. This approach gives ownership to the children for what they create. Carl Orff is also the designer of many of the instruments we use in class - the Orff instruments! Ms. Buck has completed Level III Orff teacher training at the Eastman School of Music.
Zoltan Kodaly lived in Hungary and established a very strong music program for public schools there. Even today, Hungarian children have music class several times a week. Kodaly believed in teaching through native folk songs and music. He wanted Hungarian children to keep their native music alive. He also is known for incorporating this folk music into his own compositions. The Kodaly curriculum is very involved and structured and is very centered on making the children musically literate. Kodaly also made use of the solfege system (do, re, mi, fa, etc.) and today the Curwin hand signs are used when singing to physically represent the pitches. These hand signs and solfege are used in the Sherman classroom and help students have a visual and kinesthetic aid to help them to sing in tune.
Edward Gordon is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and has produced a vast amount of research as to how children learn music and develop their musical aptitude. His philosophy states that children should be able to hear the music before they read it and he has a systematic approach to curriculum. He is probably the first to say --rote to note--- which means the chioldren should learn to play the instrument first and then learn to read the music. His concentration on "audiation" - the ability to hear written music in your head is used at Sherman. Children are asked to look at a melody, sing it in their heads and then sing it out loud. The concept of rote before note is also used, although not in a true Gordon way, as children experience beat, rhythm and melody in many ways before they are introduced in written form.