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Art, Music & Performing Arts

Exposure and appreciation for the arts begins when the child arrives at 18 months and continues through his or her years of Montessori education.

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An education in the performing arts is an important means to stimulate and encourage creativity and self-expression. It can challenge students’ perceptions about their world and themselves, as well as help them with problem-solving. Through dramatic exploration, students are given the opportunity to channel their emotions, thoughts and ideas.

Performing arts allow students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Any form of theater, from drama to musical theater, allows students to be more self-confident and more persuasive in their oral communications.

Experimenting with performing arts and theater helps students to put themselves in others’ shoes and fosters a better understanding of realities different from their own. Performing arts is also a great means to improve cooperation and teamwork.

Performing arts key concepts:

  • Join with and respond to others in group drama activities
  • Cooperate in teams to solve problems. Place self into another’s position
  • Use role-play to place self in different contexts
  • Recognize the role of theater, film, television and other media in daily life
  • Create/write scripts, and perform improvisation/act/role-play
  • Direct classroom theater
  • Use role-play to place self into the context of other subjects
  • Create theater based on themes from other subjects

The music program at Butler Montessori incorporates multiple teaching methodologies to expose students to a better understanding of music as a language and expressive form, as well as to offer a complete experience in singing, acting, movement and creative expression. Consistent with Dr. Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy, Butler Montessori’s music curriculum is age-appropriate and organized to meet the different developmental stages of the child’s growth.

Methodologies Overview

To allow the students, no matter their age or skills, to experiment with different means of expression, Butler Montessori’s music and performing arts program encompasses drama, the Dalcroze eurhythmics and the Orff Schulwerk methodologies and the approaches developed by educators Laura Bassi, Leo Rinderer, Rudolf Laban and Martha Graham.

All of the above pedagogues and artists have greatly influenced each other, demonstrating how a multi-disciplinary vision is the best approach for teaching music as well as the performing arts.

Orff Schulwerk Method
The Orff Schulwerk method is a “child-centered” approach that favors experience and practice before theory. It is a way of learning music based on the fact that every child can learn a spoken language without formal instruction and, therefore, the child can also learn music through an interactive hands-on approach, which is consistent with Dr. Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy.

Orff Key Concepts
By speaking, chanting, singing, dancing, moving, acting and playing instruments, students learn about rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form and other elements of music. These learned concepts become facilitators for further creative pursuits, such as improvising or composing their own music, playing an instrument, becoming part of a music ensemble, singing, acting and dancing.

Dalcroze Eurhythmics Method
Dalcroze eurhythmics is a developmental way of teaching music and music theory to students who do not have any previous musical experience as well as to those who already play an instrument. The method is divided into three main areas of knowledge:

  • Eurythmics (movement)
  • Solfege (singing technique used to teach pitch)
  • Improvisation

These areas are woven together both practically and theoretically by the following principles, known as the Five Dalcroze Principles:

  • Movement = time + space + energy
  • Experience = theory follows practice
  • Basics of music education = listening
  • Unity of mind, body and spirit = joy
  • Main goal of eurhythmics = positive self-expression

Dalcroze Eurhythmics Key Concepts
Through rhythm-induced activities and games, eurhythmics classes integrate solfege, improvisation and ear-training through listening, singing, dictation and notation. The larger areas of development are:

  • Breath control and balance (awareness of the positive and negative space around you)
  • Sound discrimination and recognition
  • Sound reproduction
  • Refining gross motor skills (precise normal dexterity)
  • Sensory motor skills (coordination of vision, hearing and touch with movement and hand-eye coordination)

Laura Bassi and Leo Rinderer Approach
Laura Bassi in Italy and Leo Rinderer in Germany developed an innovative way of teaching music through a system of games and activities specifically designed to stimulate music creativity in children. Both pedagogues believed that the child should be exposed to music from a very young age through both instrumental and vocal practice.

Rudolf Laban and Martha Graham Approach
Rudolf Laban and Martha Graham are considered the creators of modern and contemporary dance. They have worked with students of all ages, dancers and non-dancers, to promote the importance of movement and coordination in modern education. Their approach is based on physical interpretation of musical parameters (from rhythm to melody, from tempo to harmony), expressing the themes and emotions conveyed by a musical piece through movement. The connection between Graham, Laban and Dalcroze can be viewed as a bridge between the music world and the dance world.

"You think that all of this music and dancing is just about playing and having fun...but then you discover that it is also about learning to work with a group, and it is hard, and it can be daunting, but rewarding too. Fast forward a few years and you find yourself in NY City, standing in front of the large monitors, giving a speech, that you wrote, to a huge group of strangers, and it's easy, and empowering."

Intermediate Student
Jordan S.

Exposure and appreciation for art begins when the child arrives at 18 months and continues through his or her years of Montessori education.

Formal art classes are taught at Butler Montessori once a week from grades 4 through 8. Emphasis is placed on introducing a wide variety of projects, techniques, mediums and styles.

The student learns and further explores the weekly lesson, but also, and most importantly, discovers a trust and delight in his or her own individual creative ability.

By the 7th and 8th grade, art is taught in small groups over a period of six weeks, in blocks of two-hour segments. The students work on one project for the six weeks, which gives them the opportunity to tackle bigger projects, allowing time for appropriate research, problem-solving and trial and error.

Whether it is decorating a math paper of addition problems, identifying different styles of art or creating the backdrop for a school play, art is a constant in the work and experience of the students at Butler Montessori.

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