Why a Well Rounded Education Includes Music

I recently had a conversation with a music teacher friend of mine about our early memories of attending music class in elementary school.  My earliest memories don’t actually start until at least fourth grade.  Here’s what I remember: 

We sang, “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” and “Country Roads, Take Me Home” in our concert. Our accompanist was the PE teacher, and he only had 9 fingers (I marveled at how he could play the piano so beautifully with only nine). Our music teacher played the saw.  Yes, you read that right…the SAW!  She played it in every concert! That’s it until junior high and high school.

At first glance, it looks like I didn’t really learn or retain anything and that my time in class was wasted.  In our culture, especially with our heightened focus on STEM education, educational success must be quantifiable and measurable in order to be considered valid.  But there are many benefits to music class that are NOT quantifiable, and we shouldn’t overlook them.

Collaboration and cooperation

In music class in elementary school, I learned to make music with others. I learned to collaborate with others while practicing and performing in ensembles. I also learned to be tolerant with classmates with a variety of skills.  I learned to be kind and to listen to others and their contributions.  And I began to develop leadership qualities.

Brain Growth

In music class, my brain grew and my neural pathways became stronger.  Studies have shown that nothing grows and develops neural pathways in the brain more quickly and efficiently than making music.

Emotional intelligence

I also had opportunities to develop emotional intelligence in music class.  Music awakens emotions in ways that nothing else can.  As we listened to various music selections and talked about them, I could hear and feel passion, peace, stormy anger, intense joy, and much more.  In our discussions of how the music portrayed each emotion, I learned about an entire LIBRARY of emotions, some of which I was not familiar with.

Communication

In music class, I practiced communication skills.  In collaborating with others, discussing music selections in the class, and performing music in front of our parents in our concerts, I began to develop a variety of communication skills.  Among those skills was the ability to stand in front of an audience and share myself with them.

The Language of Music

Among the more obvious and quantifiable skills, of course, are the skills of reading musical notation.  Music is a language all its own, and one learns to read AND express it as such.  I learned note names, note values, and music vocabulary which introduced me to the Italian language.  And as I learned to read these, I also learned to express myself using this special language.

Though not measurable in the same way that knowing our multiplication tables is measurable, music is nonetheless extremely important to students’ educations.  Students who may not excel in traditional academic classes often find their niche in the arts or sports. The boost in their self-esteem and self-worth may not be quantifiable, but it is so valuable.  Likewise, the increased academic performance due to brain growth and the growth of neural pathways cannot be measured.  And don’t forget: music is fun!  Every kid needs a break from the daily grind and the opportunity to spend time with something that brings them enjoyment.  All work and no play isn’t healthy for anyone.

Music should play a role in every child’s education.  They are more likely to grow up productive, emotionally healthy, and well-rounded when music plays a central role in their schooling.  I think I’m going to track down my husband’s saw in the garage and a spare violin bow and try learning a new instrument.

Written by: Leslie Schmunk – Kardia Classical School’s Music Teacher

What Does “Parent Partnership” Mean?

We have all heard the phrase “parents know best!” and it is true that no one prioritizes your child’s development as much as you do. At the same time, we should remember that there is no substitute for a trained professional when it comes to education and no better situation for a child than to have parents and teachers working in concert. Children really have the best of both worlds when these two important people in their lives work together to facilitate a positive and successful learning environment. You may be asking yourself how this partnership can work in a hybrid model school. Yes, our students are homeschooling part-time and, in the classroom, part-time, however, this model lends itself to a greater need for communication between parents and teachers. With this added communication, the students are taught in a way that best suits them and their individual needs at home and in the classroom.

The five main pillars of our parent partnership have been carefully crafted to make sure that we are all doing our best to make each child’s school year a successful one. First, we are a community of faith-based families who support a faith-based education. It is so important to be on the same page when it comes to foundational beliefs. Second, we have a structured environment with accountability and grace. We want our students to know that they will be held accountable for their work and their actions, but there is also grace when needed. Third, we have high academic expectations at home and school. We have seen repeatedly throughout the years, that when you set high academic standards, children will often surprise you by meeting and even exceeding those standards. They are more capable than we often give them credit for. Fourth, we believe in educating the whole child: mind, body, and soul. Education is not just about academics. It is about seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in everything that we see and do. We want to help instill virtue in our students so that when they go out into the world, they will be able to positively impact their community. Fifth, our goal is to create a culture of lifelong learners. Education is not only a privilege that not all children get, but it is something that should be continued throughout their lives. We should always work towards bettering ourselves and continuing the journey of being image-bearers of Christ.

Written by: Lacey Hvattum – Head of School

What Does it Mean to be a “Classical School?”

What does it mean that Kardia is a “classical” school? When we say that we are classical, we are talking about an innovative yet ancient method of teaching children. In explaining what this type of education entails, it is helpful to think about the three steps involved with learning a new language and relate them to a child’s cognitive development. In the first step, you must acquire the raw materials of the language. In other words, you must memorize a large number of words that don’t yet fit together into eloquent sentences. Next, you must learn how these verbs, nouns, etc. fit together and the rules involved with their usage. Finally, armed with adequate vocabulary and the rules of the particular language, you can hold meaningful conversations and even compose literature of many kinds.

In a classical education setting, we recognize that the brains of grammar students are primed to acquire all sorts of facts and data about various subjects-as in the beginning stage of learning a language. You may have noticed younger children rattling off facts about obscure topics, say dinosaurs, simply because they are excited to acquire new information. We start to see a shift of interests in middle school students (also known as logic students). They are more interested in asking “why?” rather than memorizing interesting facts. They want to make sense of the world they have spent over a decade observing. These students thrive in an environment where they are not only encouraged to question things but are taught how to properly reason and think critically. Finally, in the high school years true proficiency is achieved. As with learning a new language, the last step is where skills have been polished to the point where they are their most meaningful. Students not only understand the subjects in which they have been immersed, but they can eloquently demonstrate it. This is called the rhetoric stage because the student is able to apply the rules learned in the logic stage and expertly and persuasively communicate.

Kardia Classical School is committed to classical education because of the difference we have seen it make in students over the many years our teachers and parents have been implementing it. Our curriculum focuses on pairing developmentally appropriate methods with training in virtue and spiritual development. Our hybrid model of in-class and at-home work allows parents to have a hand in their child’s education while benefiting from the planning, lessons, and support of certified teachers who are passionate about classical education. 

Written by: Kristofer Hvattum – Kardia Classical School’s Chairman of the Board