In “lifting up your hearts,” — sursum corda — music of faith
seeks the integration of man and finds it not within itself but only by going beyond itself into the Word made flesh…It cannot be realized by an individual, but only in cooperation with others…Such a sacred music bequeathes joy and a higher type of ecstasy which does not extinguish personality, but unites and thus liberates. Such a sacred music gives us a foretaste of that freedom which does not destroy, but which unites and purifies.
–Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) lecture at the VIII International Church Music Congress in Rome, November 17, 1985.
The culmination of the music studied at Saint Benedict School is the weekly Catholic liturgy filled with students who are confident and able to participate fully.
The Ward Method of instruction is the basis for the music program at Saint Benedict School. This method focuses on proper vocal technique, sight-reading music, music theory, composition, and improvisation, with a core focus in Gregorian Chant. “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” (Pope Paul VI, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963)
Students study the Ward Method through fifth grade. In Middle School, students are split by gender for a choral and music history class. The Music History Class is six semesters from Ancient music through the twenty-first century, with a special highlight on music in the Catholic Church.
Students are encouraged to participate in the extra-curricular musical offerings such as Children’s Choir, The St. Benedict School Band, and study private lessons. All of these help to support and promote a positive, comprehensive musical atmosphere at the school.
In many of today’s musical classrooms, there is an emphasis on music appreciation. The program at St. Benedict School focuses on the complete musician so that, in the words of Justine Ward, “All May Sing, not merely a talented few, for music belongs to all of God’s children.” (Justine Ward, That All May Sing, Book One, iii, 1976)
In Pope John Paul’s Letter to Artists he emphasizes the role of the artist and their ability to “captivate the hidden power of sound and words, colours and shapes” which “…echo the mystery of creation. God as the sole creator of all things” desires to associate with the artist. It is with this tenderness in thought that the visual arts program at St. Benedict has been developed to guide children to recognize beauty. It is through God’s beauty that we develop our relationship with the divine and each other.
The spiritual and visual arts content are integrated in the preK-8 program involving the four content areas of art history, art production, aesthetics, and art criticism. Students develop an understanding and application of art vocabulary essential for competence in discussing and investigating diverse styles of art. In addition, students explore and foster skills related to various art processes including: drawing, printmaking, weaving, sculpture and ceramics. The visual arts are an opportunity to authentically bridge content in the areas of religion, language arts, social studies, and music to reinforce the interconnectedness between disciplines that is natural and meaningful. Critical thinking is cultivated through classroom interactions that are age appropriate, structured, and engaging. St. Benedict provides every child the opportunity to flourish through human expression in the visual arts.
Minds in Motion
Minds in Motion is a year-long program that teaches fourth-grade students discipline, dedication, and self-awareness by leading them through a series of choreographic movements which must be memorized and expanded upon in each session. A pianist accompanies all the classes, adding another enriching dimension to the experience. The program was created by the Richmond Ballet in 1993 and has now been implemented at over 20 schools in the Richmond area. Each school year concludes with a performance that brings together all the Minds in Motion students on stage at the Arthur Ashe Center. For more information, visit www.richmondballet.com.