If you can walk you can dance, and if you can talk you can sing.
— Zimbabwean Proverb

Music Department

As noted in the title of our school, music is something that we hold close to our hearts at VOICE, and deeply influences our mission. VOICE offers students more opportunities for arts education than typical public schools. The focus on music and arts education not only builds student satisfaction, it also reinforces academic standards and contributes to higher academic achievement.

One of the very ideas on which VOICE was founded was the premise that learning music helps English Language Learners to learn English more quickly and efficiently. 

How is this done? The cadence of speaking is similar to the cadence of singing. Learning to read and write music helps with the fluency of sentence structure, such as the noun and verb placement in the English language. Listening to vocal music develops students' abilities to comprehend the text of a piece, make inferences about its meaning, and communicate his or her own ideas about the music. Our students learn how to read, write, and truly understand music, and ultimately, understand language! (See more on the method we use at the bottom of the page.)

The goal is not to turn our students into performers, but to teach them the joy and wonder of learning something new in the hopes that they will become life-long learners who always search for new passions, whether those passions be musical or not.

VOICE is one of the only musical-based schools that does not require auditions as part of our admissions process- which is done by lottery. We believe that all children are capable of developing as musicians. Each student receives performance opportunities throughout the year as every grade also has its own choir, which performs twice a year at our winter and spring concerts. Our students have also performed for the mayor, for the New York Islanders of the NHL, the WNBA's New York Liberty, and for numerous other special events. Having our students participate in choir is intentional. The purpose of all students being a part of a choir is to promote collaboration and teamwork- skills that not only help in singing, but also that can be taken out into the world no matter what path they choose to take. 

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An Introduction to the Kodály Method

VOICE’s approach to music instruction blends the Kodály method, which fosters high levels of musicianship through exposure to folk music repertoire from around the world, with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project workshop model to align with reading and writing instruction and to reinforce literacy skills outside of music. The general music curriculum is supplemented with activities from the Orff approach, wherein students experiment with music improvisation and composition; the Dalcroze method, which emphasizes a kinesthetic connection to music; and the Gordon method, which develops students’ abilities to “audiate,” or internalize, musical concepts of keys and tonalities.

The Kodály method’s foundation stems from early 20th century Hungary, where composer and educator Zoltán Kodály created a new music curriculum using “the musical ear” based on the Hungarian folk songs of that time. The idea was to introduce music education to children at a very young age and for them to sing everyday- something that is not seen often in music education.

While our student repertoire does contain American folk songs, students also learn to sing in many languages including Spanish, Tibetan, French, Swahili, Hungarian, and more.

If you are interested in learning even more about the Kodály method, please visit the Kodály Institute's website for more information. 

 

Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance

In addition to leveraging the Kodály pedagogy, the VOICE music department has designed their choral curriculum using structures inspired by a program called Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (CMP). A CMP approach to choral education allows ensembles to engage deeply with their repertoire even when members might be new to VOICE and less experienced with music performance. Conductors select three outcomes for each piece of music:

- a performance outcome that emphasizes a vocal technique such as singing melismas, singing with correct French diction, or balancing three-part polyphony

- a knowledge outcome that leverages repertoire in order to learn more about a music theory concept or a period of music history

- an affective outcome in which students make a cross-curricular connection between a piece of music and other content, their community, or the world.

By the end of each performance cycle, students will have had the opportunity to engage with their pieces in a variety of ways so that they can develop all facets of their musicianship.