The Berkwood Hedge School music program is an Orff oriented program in which students experience the joy and sense of celebration of communal music-making.
Everyone learns a varied repertoire of songs, rounds, rhythm games, chants, rhymes, interactive movement pieces, folk dances and instrumental pieces. Body rhythms, proper supportive breathing techniques, posture, and articulation are addressed through brief enjoyable warm-ups. Students practice instrumental skills first on the body, and then transfer them to percussion and mallet instruments. Basic concepts of rhythm, meter, melody, harmony, dynamics, and tone color are presented as they relate to specific pieces, and as appropriate to different age groups. All students gain familiarity and experience with solfege (the Do-Re-Mi, system) and associated hand signals in the course of both vocal and instrumental work.
Most of our learning happens through watching, listening, imitating and responding. This challenges the students to be active, focused musicians, and to develop their musical ears, reflexes, and memories. Individual songs, games and dances are repeated with regularity, so they accompany the students’ long-term growth and development.
All students spend time improvising and exploring basic techniques on the Orff instruments (xylophones, metallophones, glockenspiels). This leads to the performance of pieces with simultaneous, layered melody and accompaniment parts. In the grades 3-5, classes also focus on learning the recorder and ukulele, as well as West African drumming and percussion ensembles. These instruments are the medium for studying traditional music notation, chord progressions, song craft and polyrhythms.