Music education plays a critical role in a child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development, and lays a foundation for musical proficiency. Sacred Heart Schools’ (SHS) Preschool and Kindergarten music program includes singing, creative as well as structured movement, playing instruments, ear training, and guided listening.
“This developmentally-sound approach to music literacy builds symbolic thinking, concentration, memory, and self-expression,” said SHS Director of Early Childhood Education Nasreen Ikram Hussain.
Following the Montessori approach to a global curriculum, Preschool and Kindergarten students explore the music of the seven continents. The weekly music classes are designed to introduce song, dance, and stories of these cultures for students to gain an understanding of others around the world. Study of multicultural literature connected to the music provides another entry point for students to better comprehend different cultures around the world.
While all teachers help lead musical exploration in the classroom, there are a few key educators who lead the effort. Kindergarten teacher Carol DeZutti who has been teaching in the Preschool and Kindergarten program for 34 years, is a well-known and beloved figure around campus, strumming her guitar while leading students in song.
“Music was a formative part of my life, so singing a lot, doing movement and dance is something I’m hoping will be a formative part of our students’ lives,” said DeZutti. “We sing almost every day—we sing for transitions, we sing for people who come here, we sing during birthday celebrations and holidays, when we’re walking in line… We incorporate music all through the day.”
The Preschool and Kindergarten program also has two visiting music instructors, Clifford “Mr. Clifford” Samoranos, who has been teaching at SHS for 11 years, and Matt “Mr. Matt” Fernald.
“Mr. Clifford really works with the guitar like a master and can do a lot of improvisational music,” said Hussain. “It’s really good for the kids to hear that—something that’s a little off the grid. Mr. Matt performs engaging, whole body movement that matches the music and helps build vocabulary and rhythm.”
“I really want the children to experience the music and movement piece,” added Hussain. “The goal is for them to be creators of music, not just receivers of music. Its much more exciting to ask young children, “now you give me the sound of a scary cat,” or “show me how you would move to this song.”
DeZutti says the music program allows students to give back, through performances to the greater school community, to parents, and to the RSCJ Sisters who live on campus at Oakwood Retirement Center.
“Over the years we’ve gone to Oakwood for the children to sing to the nuns, and we also sit and talk with the nuns,” said DeZutti. “I think the children, when they’re singing to the nuns, they feel a sense that they’re giving and even though they’re only five or six years old, that they have something to share, so that’s been a really neat experience.”