News from Trinity Christian School
Written by Claire Butin, Elementary Music Teacher
Music is a powerful learning tool in classical education. In the grammar stage, students learn how to use their God-given voices in the very best way, the basics of music theory, the beginning stages of music reading and instrumental performance, and an appreciation for many classical masterpieces of music. Music can bring joy and change hearts, and it is important to give each child this gift.
In kindergarten and first grade, we learn to sing with solfege and solfege hand signs for the different scale degrees. The hand signals help the students get the feeling of the notes into their bodies and to firmly establish pitch relationships. These hand signs are internationally used.
Instrumental performance is an important part of music education. Even at a young age, children are developing self-control, teamwork, rhythm reading, stage presence, musical expression, and having fun through playing simple percussion instruments such as rhythm sticks and maracas.
The elements of music are also taught in a classical way: through songs and jingles!
Each month, the students study a different composer. Though Vivaldi did not write any words for his masterpiece, “The Four Seasons,” we have added a few. By having the children sing these classic melodies with some added words, it helps them remember the composer, which part of the piece they are listening to, and what mood the composer was trying to convey.
Body percussion is a fun way to have students grasp harder rhythmic concepts.
What is Classical Christian Education?
Reflections at the start of a new school year
by Eric Fugitt
There is a crisp feeling in the air on a cool August morning as the doors to Trinity Christian School open wide and a new year begins to unfold. There is a flood of enthusiasm amongst the faculty, parents, and students as we eagerly anticipate the wonders we will uncover over the next 9 months. Uniforms are freshly laundered and neatly worn, and an eager smile shines on every face. I see waving parents—resting in the confidence of their choice of school for their children—dropping them off at the curb or walking their little ones to their fresh, new classrooms. The atmosphere is electrified with wonder, awakened from its summer drowsiness, igniting anticipation in having that wonder fulfilled.
Throughout the next few months, the halls of the grammar school in this classical Christian environment will resound with the echoes of chants, sound-offs, and songs being ardently practiced each day by energetic and enthusiastic children taking satisfaction in their ability to memorize astonishing quantities of material with relative ease. These children are being taught according to their God-given gifts. We are teaching “with the grain” of each child, which promotes wonder and makes for a happy and contented student. Gone are the days of goading the child to prematurely reach far beyond his grasp to higher-level thinking which he finds unpleasant—making little sense to his developing mind. This child is the most content when life consists of black and white, right and wrong, and facts and rules. He takes delight in his ability to recall and recite volumes of information from their latest science or bible lesson, sing funny grammar jingles, or chant about his history time-period.
In the grammar school, we are about the business of teaching the facts and rules (the grammar) of each subject in God’s creation to foster a sense of wonder already present in the child’s mind. There is a telos, or purpose, in teaching this way. We are preparing him for a life with Christ as well as for the next level of his classical education—the logic stage—where his “wonder-grain” starts to take on a new pattern.
As he moves out of the grammar stage, his mind is bursting with knowledge that the secondary teachers begin to rework. His new sense of wonder takes delight in analyzing the world around him while looking for flaws. Everything is prey to his analysis. No lapses in logic are insignificant. He scrutinizes everything so as to argue everything.
Knowing their students possess in full measure these characteristics, the teachers begin to train him to discuss and debate moral issues in a Christ-like manner. Teachers at this level challenge their students’ assumptions. This requires a tough skin, because the teacher is now the target of his students. We educate him in the fine art of argumentation with an intentional concentration on his demeanor (ethos), logic (logos), and persuasiveness (pathos) so that he may bring glory to God and be firmly grounded when interacting in the adult world. We encourage and help facilitate a deeper relationship with Christ so that He may mold the child into His image—creating within him a deeper beauty.
Finally, as he progresses through to the Rhetoric stage, he now has his facts and rules of the world around him; he has dissected the significance of the Logos (Christ—the glory of God); he has logically debated the effects of the Creation, Fall and Redemption of man; and he now learns to articulate his viewpoint reasonably and persuasively for the glory of God. It is in the Rhetoric stage that the “wonder-grain” bends once again as the student now desires to articulate the wisdom God has given him. This articulation is performed both orally and in written form. Deep, meaningful discussions permeate the Rhetoric stage. Along with core academic classes, students take formal rhetoric to refine the craft of discussion and persuasion. A Christ-like presence, an ability to reason in a reflective, thoughtful manner, and an attractive persuasiveness in speaking the Truth are the aims of a classical Christian education.
The ultimate goal of a classical Christian education is heart and character formation for the glory of God. True education can only be accomplished within the context of a strong biblical worldview. We establish our students in the truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. We bask in the truth, beauty, and goodness of Jesus Christ found in His Word and in His creation. This is what we do. This is our spiritual act of worship each day. Soli Deo Gloria.
On Commencement: Going on Your Own Adventure
Written by Rodney J. Marshall, Ed.D.
"…I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone," Gandalf says to Bilbo at the opening of The Hobbit.
To this, Bilbo replies, "We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water." By this, he meant that the conversation was at an end.
After an unexpected party with the dwarves in which Bilbo repeatedly says No! to going on such an adventure, he awakens the next morning and realizes he cannot pass up the opportunity. So off he scampers into the journey. Before long he falls into the cave of Gollum and wonders what to do in the dark.
What is the answer to the riddle?
It cannot be seen, cannot be felt
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills
And empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after
Ends life, Kills laughter.
"Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter” (The Hobbit, Riddles in the Dark).
You might feel a little like Bilbo right now. Perhaps you are thinking, “I don’t want any adventures.” I just graduated! Can’t I take a break? I’ve been in school forever. I just want to kick back and enjoy life for a while.
Then again you might be thinking “On we go!” I’ll be off to the mainland or have my own place and it will be exciting. What an adventure life will become.
“[Bilbo] often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to” (Frodo Baggins about Bilbo, The Fellowship of the Ring, Three is Company).
Undoubtedly, each of you are “going out of your door;” and “stepping into the Road.” Be sure to “keep your feet…” and don’t lose your balance. Spend your days in fellowship with God, humming a psalm a hymn or a spiritual song all day every day. Choose your friends wisely, for “bad company corrupts good morals,” and as they say, “we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time.”
You might know exactly where you think you are going. You have the next 50 years mapped out right up to retirement. You might not have any idea what to do. God has a plan for each of you to discover.
Historian Will Durant states, “Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing things historians usually record; while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks...”
Most people live good faithful lives on the river banks. But, from time to time much is thrust upon you.
It was the age of the Vikings when Alfred inherited the crown of Wessex (the kingdom of England). When he was about your age his older brother died and Alfred faced war immediately. The Danish Vikings swept up the Thames toward London in their dragon boats pillaging the peaceful English farms, villages and monasteries in their quest for farmable land. Threatened with genocide, Alfred, a man of Christian piety, policy and skill at arms painted his face and led his Saxon countrymen straight into the plunderers. After years of war, Alfred defeated the invaders at the Battle of Edington in 878.
Alfred would have the gospel preached to his enemies after defeating them in battle and would baptize them into the Christian Faith. Some say Olaf, King of Norway converted to the Christian Faith in this way while leading Viking raids in England. Upon his return, King Olaf led a great conversion of the people of Norway and Iceland to the Christian religion. Meanwhile Alfred reestablished his nearly destroyed kingdom, and established English Common Law. He restored scholarship, learning and monasteries, learned to read Latin himself and opened Christian schools. In his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Sir Winston Churchill said, “King Alfred saved Christianity for England.” Truly, he earned the title Great.
Who knows whether you will live peacefully on the riverbanks or be swept into saving others in crisis. I am confident you will meet your challenge. We really do not know all that will come after tonight. And yet, with Frodo we say, “I will take the Ring though I do not know the way” (Frodo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Council of Elrond).
Aloha and God be with you.