Back To School

Friedrich Nietzsche once said: "Without music, life would be a mistake." And so here I am, back for the third year, to share what I love to all of the students at Peninsula Montessori School. My hope is not only to share what I love, but to help each child find a love for music that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. The music classes at Peninsula Montessori uses the Orff Schulwerk approach to music education. The Orff Schulwerk approach begins with the emphasis on the voice and our own bodies as a tool to further explore the basic elements of music including rhythm, tones, and improvisation. Only after this, can we approach other instruments starting with unpitched percussion instruments, and then onto pitched percussion (xylophones, glockenspiels), which helps them transition to other orchestral instruments. 

Toddler Classes: 

Children love to move to the music naturally—so we incorporate a lot of body movement into the class. Shy at first, soon they come to love Monday music classes, and before I know it, they are happily smiling, singing, and moving around. Even at such an early age, they are capable of handling instruments like egg shakers, bells, tambourines, drums, and even rhythm sticks! 

Pre-Primary Classes: 

Having some idea of what music is by now, we build on their love for singing, dancing, and instruments. We learn new songs, use body movements, use our own bodies as percussion instruments, and eventually transfer it to actual unpitched and pitched percussion instruments. Many of the songs we sing our seasonal, but I'm sure everyone's favorite, "The Old Grey Cat" will make its return! 

Transition Classes:

This is when we begin to learn about the basics of music more in depth such as rhythm and notes. We begin each class with a short listening of a classical piece and discuss the composer, as well as the mood of the piece. Music is all about listening, so we do many exercises that allow each child to become better listeners. We learn different songs that allow for more incorporation of different instruments. By the end of the year, many of the students are able to read and notate simple rhythm just by listening to the rhythm I clap or play. 

Lower Elementary Classes:

By this point, many of the students are able to understand the basic concepts of rhythm. We will learn and review a lot of rhythmical concepts, and introduce music reading. I am hoping to write about the importance of rhythm (even more so than notes) in my next update. We will continue to learn about different composers, highlight different instruments, as well as sing songs, play the beautiful Orff instruments, and learn to be comfortable improvising. 

Upper Elementary Classes:

Having spent two years with most of the students in upper elementary, I feel like they have a good understanding and foundation of music. We can now move on to more advanced elements of music. I have always emphasized the importance of rhythm, and most of the students are capable of notating and reading basic rhythm that includes anything up to 8th notes. They can build their own rhythm, improvise on the beat, and are comfortable playing many of the Orff instruments in the classroom. In addition to singing, we will learn to sing in two parts—each part having their own line. Since Ms. Sharon is aiding the upper elementary classes this year, we will also incorporate recorder playing. 

Here's a video of the 5th graders doing the "Cup Game" taken from Pitch Perfect. Already a great start to the year!

Cup Game

I'm looking forward to seeing all the students every week, and hope that they gain an appreciation for music. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to stop by my classroom. I am there Monday (9:00-11:30), Wednesday (10-11:30), and Friday (9-3). I hope you will visit me during Back to School Night!




Ms. Naomi Sumitani

Teacher, Music, Palos Verdes Campus