Birchwood School of Hawken’s music program presents the essence of musical knowledge and performance from a broad, rich perspective in a simple, yet interesting way. Students enjoy learning music through professional methods and training in order to perform with pride. Plato held music in high regard as one of the three top fields (knowledge, music, and sports) that qualify a person to be a future leader. Music learning requires a highly intensive sensitivity of the mind, ears, and eyes, and a full harmonious coordination of the entire body. This is developed through steadfast learning, training, discipline, and practice. According to recent research, a child can develop the capacity and ability to advance their language, math, and science through the process of quality musical training.

Based upon this philosophy and view of the value of music education, Birchwood aims for its music program to:
  • Meet individual needs as every student is inherently musical and has the potential for musical growth.
  • Teach crucial thinking skills for music learning.
  • Enhance character education in our music classroom.
Birchwood offers music classes in the first through fifth grade. Each class has three parts:
  • The opening where students learn to sing songs that inspire joy, virtue, positive thinking, and potential.
  • Music appreciation where students listen to a variety of music and complete projects based on each composer’s musical style and biography.
  • An activity, as musical learning comes from playing instruments and engaging in movement and dance.
Students in the fourth and fifth grade, as well as advanced students in younger grades, are exposed to advanced music theory and composition. In third grade, students begin learning the recorder and may advance to ensemble in the fifth through eighth grades, depending on their interest and skill level. Fifth grade students will be introduced to rhythm percussion and the ukulele through a special workshop and will learn the basic building blocks of rhythm.

The learning process in Birchwood’s music classes is comprehensive as students:
  • Study fundamental theories and techniques of music.
  • Listen to and analyze compositions of great composers.
  • Complete projects that explore characters, musical styles, and techniques of great composers.
  • Compare differences between composers and their music.
  • Students are encouraged to develop their own ideas and create original works individually or together. Their original works are shared with the class as students enjoy learning from each other.
Birchwood offers an instrumental ensemble for fifth through eighth grade students. To join, students are required to have taken a minimum of one year of private lessons. Auditions are held the first week of school. Ensemble practices for two class periods each week. 

Program Highlights
  • Students develop from basic to advanced levels through auditions, class practices, rehearsals, master classes, in-school performances, and regional competitions.
  • Students perform at the music concert and Eighth Grade Graduation each year.
  • Students have the opportunity to take music lessons after school (for a fee).
  • Participants are expected to take private lessons with professional musicians in addition to performing in the ensemble.
A choral ensemble is offered for fifth through eighth grade students with the goal of enhancing each student’s passion for harmonic singing as well as providing practice and training for exploring their vocal skills.

Program Highlights
  • Students learn the Orff process for creative activities and key Kodaly methods for reading notes (a program that teaches music according to talent, ability, and interest and that gives students the chance to create their own music).
  • Students perform at the music concert and Eighth Grade Graduation each year.
  • Students have the opportunity to take music lessons after school (for a fee).
  • Participation in the Greater Cleveland Solo and Ensemble Contest allows students to set goals and motivates them to practice to professional standards.