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Exploring Music in A Montessori Education

The Montessori Method Encourages Music in All Classrooms

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.