Lower School Music (Grades PK-4)

Lower School students move to music, play melodic and rhythmic instruments, improvise and create their own melodies, and listen to a variety of folk, classical, jazz, and contemporary music. Annual class programs offer our students many opportunities for performing. Norwood has a tradition of integrating the arts with other classroom learning by developing musical presentations based on history, poetry, nature, and the cultures of specific countries. Musical presentations provide opportunities for children to develop self-confidence and are an exciting way to enhance learning. Performance is an integral part of the Norwood music experience.
Music classes consist of musical activities that are based on a repertoire of multicultural folk songs as well as recordings the children listen to throughout the year. Activities include singing, playing instruments, moving, listening, dramatizing, reading, writing, and creating. Through these experiences, children are given the opportunity first to “discover” music with their feelings, bodies, and curiosity. The children’s discoveries are then guided into higher levels of conceptual understanding as musical concepts are drawn from these songs and recordings and are presented in a sequential order. These concepts are based on the elements of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, form, and the elements of expression. Throughout this process, known as the Kodaly method, music reading skills and individual artistic creativity are emphasized.

Middle School Music (Grades 5-8)

Norwood’s middle school music program provides outstanding educational experiences in music built on the musical skills and concepts learned in Lower School. The curriculum emphasizes music literacy, historical and cultural awareness, aesthetic awareness, and creativity while instilling a joyful sense of music in an ensemble setting. Beginning in fifth grade, students choose among concert band, choir, or string orchestra for their classroom instruction. In seventh grade, students have the additional option of a handbell ensemble called the Norwood Ringers. Performance continues to be an integral part of the Norwood music experience with three major concerts during the year: Grandparents & Special Guests Day, Winter Festival Concert, and the Spring Concert. Additional performance opportunities may be offered in the school and local communities.
Concert Band -- Beginning in fifth grade, band students work toward developing proficiency on the flute, clarinet, trumpet, or trombone, learning about and understanding musical thought and creativity, building performance and interpersonal skills. The repertoire studied may include any style of music and is chosen based on an appropriate level of difficulty, instrumentation, and the interests of the students. Beginning in sixth grade, band students have the opportunity to switch to bass clarinet, saxophone, French horn, oboe and percussion to support the exploration of more advanced repertoire .Fifth and sixth grade band students meet separately during the school day as a full ensemble three times a week. Seventh and eighth grade band students meet together during the school day in full ensemble and sectional classes. Sectional classes allow students to focus on skills specific to their instrument at an advanced level. Seventh and eighth grade students perform together as an Advanced Band. Weekly private lessons for all band students are strongly encouraged, but not required. Click here to learn more about the instrument selection process at Norwood.

Choir -- Choir students focus on developing performance skills, healthy vocal technique, and sight- reading skills using solfege by performing a diverse selection of choral literature. Students sing a wide variety of music in multiple languages and styles. Students also make use of a variety of drums, percussion instruments, and hand chimes to support and accompany their singing.  Fifth and sixth grade choirs meet separately during the school day but regularly perform together. Seventh and eighth grade choir students meet and perform together and once a week are separated by voice type to in order to work through the eccentricities of the changing voice. At big concerts and events, choral students of all grades will often sing together as one large choir of 50-60 singers!

Handbells -- Handbells are tuned percussion instruments, meaning they can provide both rhythm and melody/harmony simultaneously within a piece. The handbell curriculum includes developing a healthy ringing technique, solidifying music reading (especially sight reading and handbell notation), and studying a variety of musical styles through ensemble playing. Seventh and eighth grade students meet and perform together.
String Orchestra -- Prior experience on a stringed instrument is not necessary for fifth grade string orchestra students, though many students enter the fifth grade having studied their instrument for a year or more. Fifth and sixth grade orchestras meet separately during the school day but perform together. Seventh and eighth grade string orchestra students meet and perform together. Weekly private lessons for all orchestra students are strongly encouraged, but not required.


Lower School Winter Concert (December 20, 2019)

Middle School Spring Choral & Bell Concert (May 10, 2022)

Middle School Spring Band & Orchestra Concert (May 12, 2022)

String Orchestra Performs at the Library of Congress (December 2019)

List of 2 items.

  • What can I do as a parent to help my child in music?

    • Sing and enjoy music as a family
    • Encourage your child to enjoy the human singing voice in all styles.
    • Bring your child to live performances. The National Philharmonic and Chorale at Strathmore offer free tickets for children over 6.
    • Expose your child to a wide variety of ethnic folk music.
    • Provide your child with a variety of musical cultures and styles.
  • When should I start my child with group or private lessons on an instrument?

    If you would like to have your child take private instrumental lessons, piano and violin are both appropriate instruments for early elementary students. Your child should be expressing interest already and should be able to sit and focus on one task for at least 15 minutes at a time. Recommended starting ages for private lessons can range anywhere from 5-10 years depending on physical strength, maturity level, and motivation. Unless you think your child is a rare prodigy, you need not worry that you are starting them too late. There are two piano teachers and a Suzuki string teachers on-site at Norwood.
Norwood's music program is devoted to instilling a joyful sense of music in every child. It accomplishes this through a process which emphasizes creativity as well as musical literacy.
Located in Bethesda, MD, Norwood School develops students in grades PK-8 into confident lifelong learners who have the academic, character, and leadership skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Recognizing that children are multi-faceted, Norwood provides many opportunities for safe risk-taking, exploration, discovery, and growth in a nurturing, supportive, and inclusive school community.