The Pathfinder School: Traverse City Community School

Music & Movement



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



Movement and Dance

Movement and dance are folded into the music and performance program at Pathfinder. Our kids get the chance to move every week—particularly as they prepare for Tapestry, our springtime extravaganza, presented at the City Opera House in downtown Traverse City. 

"Pathfinder has created a supportive community focused on offering the best education for our children and helping them discover a love for learning. The end result is the development of self-confident, well-spoken and socially conscious individuals."

- Parent, grade 8