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“Music’s ability to create connections between people means that it is a force for relating well, at the same time, relating well can be a resource for making more music.”
Susan B. Young, Music with the Under-Fours

Music at Fort Hill

Like spoken language, musical ability is a basic human communication tool that we begin learning and using at birth, if not before. The music program at Fort Hill is designed to allow all children to develop their innate musical ability. It is an integral part of the school day so that children can enjoy hearing and making music as a part of their life at school. Children have access to musical instruments as they explore the world of sound and themselves as producers of music.

The music program at Fort Hill is a multi-faceted daily program that incorporates all ages from infancy through preschool.  The curriculum is designed to blend the emergent curriculum philosophy of Reggio Emilia with the skill-based focus of the First Steps in Music curriculum developed by Dr. John Feierabend of the Hartt School of Music at The University of Hartford. 

The First Steps curriculum posits that a successful music program encourages children to be:

  • Tuneful-to have tunes in their heads and to coordinate their voices to sing those tunes.
  • Beatful-to feel the pulse of music and how that pulse is grouped in either 2s or 3s.
  • Artful-to be moved by music in the many ways music can elicit a feelingful response.

With these three goals as guiding principles, the music program at Fort Hill encourages these types of musical behaviors in a variey of different ways.

The Music Studio is outfitted with a variety of percussion, string and wind instruments.  Children are encouraged to play and explore the different instruments in both structured and unstructured activities.  Percussion is utilized often to encourage strong beat sense, and pitched instruments like bells, xylophones, and tone bars are used to encourage pitch sense.  With a large open area for creative movement, the Big Common space where music sessions are most often held is the perfect location to move expressively to different styles and genres of music.

Community building and social development are central to the mission of Fort Hill.  The Music Studio supports this mission through a variety of group songs, games, and dances.  The multi-age environment of both the preschool and infant/toddler music sessions allow children of different developmental levels to observe, interact, and learn from each other.

The project approach is another fundamental element that guides the curriculum at Fort Hill.  This approach to long-term, collaborative projects can be seen in the Music Studio in a variety of ways. Using technology to record and develop vocal or instrumental music is an essential element for long-term project work in the Music Studio. Collaborations with classroom curriculum, and with the Art Studio is another way that the Music Studio supports the implementation of long-term project work.

Above all else, the goal of the Music Studio is to create joy and enthusiasm through the making of music. It is wonderful to hear the children taking the songs and ideas from the Music Studio and incorporating them into their daily routines.  Hearing children sing, create beats, and move with expression as they play, work, and interact indendently reflect the impact that the Music Studio makes.

Three children with guitars

The Hundred Languages of Children

As children make hypotheses, explore their environment, and discover connections and meanings, they use many media to express and communicate their discoveries. In Reggio Emilia, Italy, the educators refer to these as the "hundred languages of children." At Fort Hill, specialists in visual arts and music support the teachers and children in using many languages. The specialists work with all the children in the school—infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

No way.
The hundred is there.
The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds to discover
a hundred worlds to invent
a hundred worlds to dream. 

The child has a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.

They tell the child 
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child 
that the hundred is not there.
The child says
"No way. The hundred is there."

Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini)