Studies show that music education is vital for children of all ages. It helps them achieve higher test scores, and increases their language development, discipline, and confidence. "Music engages both sides of the brain," explained Jaime Surdynski, Music Instructor at The Avery Coonley School. "It makes kids better math students, speakers, writers, creators, problem solvers, and teammates."
At ACS, students experience music all year long in varying amounts. "Every single student, from the Early Childhood group through eighth grade, learns to read music," said Surdynski. "By the end of second grade, they read music notation in both the treble and bass clefs, a skill that most adults don't have. Early on, they discover a variety of instruments using simple rhythms and accompaniments to stories, and develop improvisation skills."
In grade six, students learn to play hand chimes and percussion, and learn about instruments from around the world. Seventh graders learn to play guitar and read chord charts and tablature. "By eighth grade, having learned a multitude of instruments, students learn some major classical works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and others, and arrange their own mash-ups and study musical theater with a spring field trip," added Surdynski. "We offer an extra-curricular orchestra, and I direct two choirs. We also have an audition-based a cappella group called the Treble Makers."
Surdynski has personally seen music change many of her students' lives. "One student joined choir during eighth grade, and it changed his trajectory in high school," she said. "I've taught children with selective mutism who wouldn't speak in class, but would sing in mine. Another child struggling with anxiety found that singing helps him feel better. My students thank me for teaching them to be independent musicians, for making music fun, and for making the classroom safe enough to take big risks. The small moments in rehearsals are profound; I experience stunningly humble moments constantly, and they're the best part of my job."
The Avery Coonley School
1400 Maple Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515