“It is a long accepted truth that singing provides the best start to music education; moreover, children should learn to read music before they are provided with any instrument…even the most talented artist can never overcome the disadvantages of an education without singing.” (Zoltán Kodály, 1974).
Music is a highly valued part of school life at St John’s and this is reflected in the curriculum from Transition – Year 6. All students experience regular class music lessons with specialist teachers for ninety minutes each week and have the opportunity to learn instruments with private tutors at school. There are a variety of instrumental and choral ensembles in which students can participate.
The Music program is designed so children develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes by performing, organising sound, composing and listening, experiencing musical concepts (duration, pitch, expressive elements, tone colour and structure) within a wide range of repertoire through a sequential and planned process of teaching and learning.
The program is delivered through an aural/vocal approach using the tools of the Kodály Method including moveable doh, handsigns, rhythm syllables and art music.
Kodály musical training always involves active music-making. Musical learning evolves from a variety of experiences including singing games and dances; folk songs and art songs; singing songs in unison, rounds, canons and in parts; singing themes from great instrumental music; and listening and moving to music. All these form the wealth of experiences from which musical concepts are drawn and through which musical skills are practised. Just as one learns to speak first and then read and write later, so the music is taught first before the symbols. The developed inner ear will then be able to recall the sounds when they are presented later as symbols.
The use of the voice is one of the most defining features of the Kodály approach. The voice is the most accessible of all instruments and this makes it most suitable for musical instruction. The children at St John’s learn to use their singing voice accurately and musically before they begin more formal instrumental work.
Year One students learn a string instrument as part of the curriculum and Stage Three students participate in the band program. The choral program continues throughout each stage in both curricular and extra-curricular spheres.
Every two years the entire school stages a musical production. Past shows include ‘Pages of the World’, ‘The Jungle Book’ and most recently, ‘Seussical’.