Music Arts

NJ Private School

Oak Hill Academy Music Program 

The Music Program is designed to foster a lifelong appreciation of music through active music making experiences.  This sequenced music curriculum develops in the students:

  • musicianship skills such as rhythmic competency and aural skills
  • an understanding of the structure of music (i.e., music theory)

The process or philosophy used is known as Orff-Schulwerk, named for its originator Carl Orff, a Bavarian educator and composer in the 20th century.

  • Orff’s genius was in devising a way to teach music by an ACTIVE and CREATIVE means.  Students learn about the structure of music and develop skill by being involved in playing and creating music.
  • The instruments used in the classroom were designed by Orff and based on Gamelan Orchestras of Indonesia.  These instruments are tuned percussion like miniature orchestral xylophones.  We call them barred instruments because each bar is a pitch of the scale.
  • We add a variety of drums, other unpitched percussion instruments, and the recorder (introduced in third grade) to complete the instrumentarium.

In the younger grades the students experience music by singing, moving, using rhythmic speech (poetry and story telling) and playing instruments.  In the older grades the students explore music by playing compositions for the barred instruments written by Carl Orff and others as well as learning about other cultures by studying and playing their percussion music (e.g., Ghanaian and Afro-Cuban drumming, Zimbabwean marimba music, etc.).  In addition, there is an emphasis at all levels on improvisation and composition (e.g., a unit in Jazz-Blues in 8th grade).

There is a listening component to the curriculum in which we actively listen to recorded music of:

  • different styles and genres
  • world cultures
  • examples of art music of the great composers of past and present

In addition, a child’s studies in other areas of the curricula are enhanced by music instruction that links concepts across the subject areas.

The Lower School students (grades K-4) receive music instruction once a week for the duration of the school year. The Upper School students (grades 5-8) receive instruction once a week for one semester.

Music performance ensembles offer opportunities to learn performance skills and serve as ambassadors for the school as they perform numerous times throughout the year, not only at school assemblies but also for school functions.  The Oak Hill Chorus is for unchanged voices in grades 3-8.  The Oak Hill Music Makers (grades 4 & 5) and Oak Hill Players (grades 6-8) are percussion ensembles.  A vocal ensemble (grades 7 & 8) and recorder ensembles (grades 4-8) are also available.  Students with proficiency in orchestral and band instruments are frequently invited to perform with these ensembles.

In the music classroom, there is a place for every child no matter what their experience or ability. And in a joyful, cooperative and creative environment, we experience the joy of making music together.

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