The Pathfinder School: Traverse City Community School

Music & Art

Express Yourself!

Music and art is incorporated into the curriculum beginning at pre-kindergarten.


Our elementary and middle school music education programs engage children through song, speech, movement, listening and instrumental play. The curriculum is influenced by the pedagogical premises of Carl Orff’s Schulwerk, which focuses on developing the musicianship of every child. Children learn by doing by interacting with their environment and acting upon it through exploration and experimentation, play and discovery. Music education and other types of learning at our school are active processes, engaging children in holistic and meaningful experiences that lead to further growth and understanding.

A variety of learning activities in our music education programs are designed in the concept areas of rhythm, melody, form, texture/harmony and expression. The content of music education classes is often interdisciplinary and multicultural. Students learn about the lives and works of composers and styles of music ranging from medieval times to the present.

Applications to Literacy

  • An Orff-based approach is easily integrated with literacy at all grade levels.
  • Children who understand music can better understand word language.
  • Music education classes constantly build vocabulary: spoken, visual, aural and body.
  • Students enjoy creating sound carpets to accompany familiar stories. Older students can present musical stories to younger grades or grade levels can work together. Sound, movement and image enhance and broaden literacy.
  • The goal: learning to read becomes reading to learn.



Pathfinder kids learn to appreciate art; but their primary task is to make art, not look at it. Students create works of art using natural found materials, clay and construction materials. They also draw self-portraits and learn perspective techniques. Art History is incorporated into the curriculum with a timeline covering artwork from the Prehistoric through Modern times. Students can also learn design techniques through the middle school Design and Production elective course, which offers projects in vehicle, home and furniture design as well as the opportunity to work on the sets for the drama production. MIADs are available to students in the visual arts domain include drawing and painting, clay and studio art.