Spotlight on the Lower School Music Ensemble Program

Harley Givler
Shipley’s Lower School music program is truly unique and empowering for our young learners, culminating with an authentic music ensemble experience for all students in fourth and fifth grades. In fourth grade, students have the opportunity to gain an introduction to and produce sound on at least 14 different instruments, including the oboe and bassoon. Our instrument offerings are as diverse as our learners, and students self-select based on their interest and where they feel they have the most successful match.

This process not only allows students to freely express their intentions and desires, but it also cultivates individual responsibility and agency in self-guided learning. This is a critical experience for our fourth graders as they begin to prepare for the transition to Middle School. Our program removes a major hurdle in the decision-making process by providing instruments and the first music book at no cost, allowing students to focus on their passions and goals.

In addition to individual instruction that students can receive through our private music lesson program, our fourth and fifth graders participate in ensemble work, providing a unique community learning environment. Students develop skills and character traits that support self-expression, well-being, and personal growth. They also learn problem-solving strategies through musical language acquisition and develop communication skills to creatively express ideas and emotions in group settings.

Our program is made possible by the work of over 20 local professionals and practitioners who provide differentiated instruction through sectional work. Funding for this program comes from the private lesson program, with outside philanthropy being key in helping us maintain musical instruction space, pianos, equipment, music stands, and more.

In the end, our students understand that hard work and courage are needed to produce a successful performance. The long-term benefits and goals of our program extend beyond the classroom and into the lives of our students and families. We are proud to offer such a unique and empowering music program to our Lower School community.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.