What do poetry, the weather, sea creatures, choreography, and wind instruments have in common? As it turns out, quite a bit.
Much of the teaching and learning that happens at Summit is about connections. By the end of the two-week Summit Summer “Music, Mind and Reading” camp, students were making connections that improved their reading and listening skills, while allowing them to explore areas that were new to them.
The School first offered the camp in the summer of 2004, after planning the reading element of the program in conjunction with researchers in the Section of Neuropsychology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Peter Perret, former conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony, directs the music component using the Bolton curriculum, which has proven effective in enhancing reading and related cognitive skills. A professional woodwind quintet serves as the musical faculty, working with the children each day, as did a dance and movement instructor.
Summit teachers Deanna Moss, Barbara Scantland, and Heather Scantland developed themes around which lessons were presented. Children explored weather, animals, and the ocean through poetry, movement, music, and dance.
For instance, the word “tornado” is much more likely to become firmly ingrained in a child’s vocabulary after he has experienced his body whirl in motion, and heard music that evokes the same driving intensity. “The children learned how closely connected our language is to the language of music,” says Barbara. “We talked a lot about how music and movement tell a story as well.”
Last spring, teacher Terry Schaub, from The Carroll School in Boston, was looking at colleges with her daughter when she saw a poster at Wake Forest announcing that Peter Perret would be speaking that evening on the “Music, Mind and Reading” program. In his talk, he referenced the Summit Summer camp. Kerry immediately thought of starting a similar program at her school, and returned to Winston-Salem to spend a week observing our camp. “The idea of incorporating more music into our program is exciting,” said Kerry. “I couldn’t believe the kids could close their eyes and identify notes as played by multiple instruments. It is a marvelous way to help open their neural pathways.”
On the final Friday of the camp, each child proudly marched to the front of the theatre and presented the quintet with a musical score they had written. Using a form of shorthand, the students indicated which instruments were to play their piece, and whether the notes were piano or forte (loud or soft), staccato (short bursts), or legato (smooth). At the end, each beaming composer took a bow. The sweeping compositions soon ended, but it was obvious the young composers’ confidence would soar long after the music was over.