OVERVIEW:

Mission and Philosophy

Children's Chorus of Maryland empowers musical children and promotes the fine art of music by providing music literacy for vocal musicians. We achieve our mission in a music education and performance program dedicated to excellence, aesthetic sensitivity, play-based learning, respect, and diversity.

Singing is not enough

Students in Solfa level classes (Concert choir).
Students in Solfa level classes (Concert choir).
At Children's Chorus of Maryland, we believe that music communicates the essence of the human spirit, and that the voice is the first musical instrument. To truly and fully enjoy making music with others, one must strive for fluency in the language of music. This means learning how to listen and to how interpret and respond to what you hear (ear training). It especially means learning to read and write music (sight singing, taking dictation, arranging, and composing).

All too often in the choral world, many singers learn new music by rote (by imitation and repetition). This practice robs the singer of the ability to truly converse musically and to develop as a true musician. We believe choral music education, especially for children, must always lead to music literacy – the confident ability to read music without anyone playing it for you, and the ability to write music so that you can communicate your musical ideas to others. Nothing less is good enough for a musical child who needs and deserves to have these basic tools of self-expression.

Comprehensive training for the young musician

Treble choir (Beginner students) singers performing at an Annual Concert.
Treble choir (Beginner) students performing.

The CCM Method, developed by Betty Bertaux in the 1970’s, accelerates children’s music learning, ear training, sight singing skills, and music literacy. Using the voice as the instrument, we provide music literacy and musicianship training in small group classes twice a week.

Highly trained teachers follow a carefully designed curriculum using musical games with the combination of the Kodaly Method and Gordon Music Learning Theory to quickly and easily bring children to very high levels of musicianship and music literacy in a joyful manner. By the time even a young child has completed 3 to 4 years in our Conservatory program, they can pick up a piece of music and sing it without anyone playing it for them on a piano! No other choral program in the area provides advanced, comprehensive music education to young singers.

Just as our students develop and mature into fine musicians, they evolve into capable young men and women who have individually mastered the skills of personal and collaborative commitment. These ideals include discipline, dedication to both short- and long-term goals, respect for peers and teachers, self-respect, the ability to work within a group towards a common goal, and recognition of the value of hard work to achieve what is truly fine. These qualities will enrich their lives and the communities they influence as they reach adulthood and carve out their places in the world.

Serving communities

CCM performance at a community church
CCM performance at a community church.
We believe that music communicates the essence of the human spirit. We also believe that what is best about us has been recorded in our musical heritage. In teaching this language to children we are passing on an essential part of the human experience to future generations.

Students usually come from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard and Harford Counties. Our audiences come from many areas of the state, country or world, depending on our itineraries. Televised performances have included local and worldwide broadcasts. In 1995, CCM was proclaimed by Governor Schaefer to be the official Children’s Chorus in Maryland.

The CCM Conservatory program is comprised of ten graded levels of musicianship classes and three choirs meeting twice weekly. It is open to all children who qualify by passing an audition. In addition to the Conservatory Program, CCM provides an early childhood music program, Crickets, for children ages 4 to 6.

In 2001, CCM also founded a teacher training program for music educators, the American Kodály Institute (AKI). Music teachers from all over the country participate in this three-year program, which is now based solely at Loyola University.

Music literacy is a lifetime gift, and in a society that places such emphasis on concrete skill-building CCM is a reminder that Art brings us joy.

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)

Let us stop the teachers' superstition according to which only some diluted art-substitute is suitable for teaching purposes. A child is the most susceptible and the most enthusiastic audience for pure art; for in every great artist the child is alive - and this is something felt by youth's congenial spirit. Conversely, only art of intrinsic value is suitable for children! Everything else is harmful. After all, food is more carefully chosen for an infant than for an adult. Musical nourishment which is "rich in vitamins" is essential for children. -Zoltán Kodály

Zoltán Kodály
Zoltán Kodály Wikimedia Commons.
Zoltán Kodály, prominent Hungarian composer and musician, was a founding influence for CCM Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Dr. Betty Bertaux. Kodály directed a significant portion of his creative endeavors to improving the quality of singing and music training of teachers and children alike throughout the Hungarian nation. Kodály believed that music is meant to develop one's entire being: personality, intellect and emotions.

Kodály's advocacy for music education rested on the philosophy of "universal musical humanism": each person has musical ability that ought to be cultivated in order to benefit humanity. Kodály advocated that by developing independent musical thinkers, universal music education could help to enlighten society to the cultural riches present in music and help to create a more ideal society.

Based on singing as the first musical instrument, Kodály-inspired pedagogy is a comprehensive program that develops the ability to understand what is heard, and then transfers that learning to reading, writing, improvisation, and composition. Kodály-based methodological sequences are derived from selected musical literature that includes folk music and the music of the masters. Rhythmic, melodic, and metric element are extracted from the literature, arranged from simple to complex, and then methodically prepared, presented, and practiced.