Martha Glaze Zook came to Settlement looking for a music class for her 4-year old daughter. There was already a lot of music at her home – at the time, she played French horn in the Philadelphia Orchestra and had studied at Ithaca College Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute – but a larger musical community for her daughter sounded appealing.
Her daughter started out in Children’s Music Workshop (CMW), learning and playing alongside slightly older children, but it was Martha who took hold of the class’ open, inviting atmosphere. “By the end of the year, I was hooked,” she says.
She enrolled in a class in Orff Schulwerk teaching, a widely-known method for music instruction based on exploration, imitation, improvisation and creation. She found it vastly different from her background in instrumental music and in band and orchestra settings, and made a huge shift in her career away from orchestra playing and toward music pedagogy.
“I discovered a lot about myself,” she says. “Teaching became interesting to me. I wanted to keep pursuing it, and I wanted to keep getting better.”
Zook has been Introducing young children to melody, rhythm, and musical form through CMW ever since, and since 1993, she has served as the Artist Teacher for music for the Kaleidoscope Arts Enrichment Pre-K Program at the Mary Louise Curtis Branch.
Under Zook’s watch, students discover that the human body is the first musical instrument through movement, singing, rhymes, and games; through collaborative play, they grow familiar with making music in an ensemble setting – useful for future music-making in band, orchestra or chorus. “They become independently musical and more capable,” Zook says. “It’s a wonderful maturing process.”
Zook also piloted the introduction of Children’s Music Playshop classes at Settlement, starting in 2013. After years of calls and requests for a class geared toward babies, she says, she assembled a curriculum from songs, games and physical interaction based on Orff and Kodaly methods. The result has been a class that’s nurturing and stimulating for young children starting at 6 months of ages, and enjoyable for the grown-ups in their lives.
“It was so much fun to do, and since every class of students is different, there are lots of opportunities for tweaks and changes,” she says
As new families join and new faculty members carry forward her curriculum in their weekly sessions, Playshop has expanded quickly. It started at two community Branches in fall 2013 and is now available at all six community branches, as well as through Settlement’s partnership with People’s Emergency Center, an agency for homeless families in West Philadelphia. “It’s a delightful and playful bonding experience for parents and children,” Zook says.