Birchwood School of Hawken’s music program presents the essence of musical knowledge and performance from a broad, rich perspective in a simple, yet interesting way. Students enjoy learning music through professional methods and training in order to perform with pride.
Plato held music in high regard as one of the three top fields (knowledge, music and sports) that qualify a person to be a future leader. Music learning requires a highly intensive sensitivity of the mind, ears and eyes, and a full harmonious coordination of the entire body.
This is developed through steadfast learning, training, discipline and practice. According to recent research, a child can develop the capacity and ability to advance their language, math and science through the process of quality musical training.
Based upon this philosophy and view of the value of music education, Birchwood aims for its music program to:
- Meet individual needs as every student is inherently musical and has the potential for musical growth
- Teach crucial thinking skills for music learning
- Enhance character education in our music classroom
Birchwood School offers music classes in the first through sixth grade. Each class has three parts:
- The opening where students learn to sing songs that inspire joy, virtue, positive thinking, and potential
- Music appreciation where students listen to a variety of music and complete projects based on each composer’s musical style and biography
- An activity – as musical learning comes from playing instruments and engaging in movement and dance
Students in the fourth through sixth grade, as well as advanced students in younger grades, are exposed to advanced music theory and composition. In the third grade, students begin learning the recorder and may advance to ensemble in the fifth through eighth grades, depending on their interest and skill level.
Fifth and sixth grade students are required to learn a musical instrument. Students may choose from the clarinet, cello, flute, viola, violin or double bass.
The learning process in Birchwood’s music classes is comprehensive as students:
- Study fundamental theories and techniques of music
- Listen to and analyze compositions of great composers
- Complete projects that explore characters, musical styles and techniques of great composers
- Compare differences between composers and their music
Additionally, all students are encouraged to develop their own ideas and create original works individually or together. Their original works are shared with the class as students enjoy learning from each other.
Birchwood offers instrumental ensembles for fifth through eighth grade students. To join, students are required to have taken a minimum of one year of private lessons. Auditions are held the first week of school.
Each ensemble practices for two class periods each week. Students develop from basic to advanced levels through auditions, class practices, rehearsals, master classes, in-school performances, and regional competitions.
Participants are expected to take private lessons with professional musicians in addition to performing in the ensemble.
A choral ensemble is offered for fifth through eighth grade students with the goal of enhancing each student’s passion for harmonic singing as well as providing practice and training for exploring their vocal skills.
- Students learn the Orff process for creative activities and key Kodaly methods for reading notes (a program that teaches music according to talent, ability and interest and that gives students the chance to create their own music)
- Students perform at the annual Music Concert and Spanish Show as well as during the Eighth Grade Graduation each spring
- Students have the opportunity to take music lessons after school (for a fee)
- Participation in the Greater Cleveland Solo and Ensemble Contest allows students to set goals and motivates them to practice to professional standards