Last Updated: 7/22/2021 10:46 PM

We believe that music is the child’s first language and as such, a great music program encourages access to that essential means of identity.

It is important to have an appreciation of music and to use it as a tool for developing listening skills, rhythm reading, pitch matching, body awareness, emotional intelligence and imagination. We further believe that early exposure to music is vital to overall brain development especially in connecting the right and left brain hemispheres; and as an added bonus, it serves to make neural connections that are important for math and language acquisition.

Music is also a vital part of our cultural language. Students learn songs and dances from across the globe, often working with languages, rhythms, and melodies from diverse cultures. The primary focus of the classroom is to develop the whole musical child, not focus on the child musician.

All Cottonwood School students participate in at least 30 minutes of music class each week led by our Music Director, Ms. Nancy Leffler.

Nancy Leffler comes to Cottonwood ready to start a new chapter of her teaching career!  She  has over 30 years teaching experience. Her specialties are multicultural and early childhood learning.  

She believes a balanced music education should include singing, playing instruments, moving, creating, and listening to music from a variety of genres and cultures. 

Ms. Nancy is excited about being an integral part of the Cottonwood School and getting to know our awesome students and school community. Ms. Nancy says, “This is the best job ever because I get to sing, dance and play instruments every day!”.


Toddler and Early Childhood Music

Toddler and Early Childhood classes are a joyful celebration of song, dance, and play. As part of each class, we invite the children to move to music. Over the course of each semester, the children develop proper technique on a variety of rhythm instruments, which they then use to accompany songs and games. Children’s picture books, especially those with a rhythmic cadence or ones that lend themselves to a musical response, are an integral part of the program. Each semester’s work is showcased at the Peace Concert in December. 


Elementary Music

Elementary classes listen and respond to a wide variety of live and recorded music and are asked to make critical judgments about what they hear. Students have opportunities to play several instruments including drums and Orff instruments. They learn to read and create their own rhythms and melodies as well as play  together as part of an ensemble while following a conductor. Students are challenged to improvise rhythms using body percussion or instruments, and create dance movements. Elementary students learn how to sing alone and together as a choir. They practice breathing and posture while learning how to maintain the correct pitch. Each semester’s work is showcased at the Peace Concert in December. 


Upper Elementary Steel Band under the Direction of Montessori Music Educator, Frank Leto

Frank Leto is an early childhood educator, a musician, a composer and a Montessori teacher with tremendous sensitivity to the needs of young children.

He is also a professional musician, Orff music teacher and steel band director. He brilliantly combines his skills as both teacher and musician to create a sound that your children will love!

In 1975 Frank Leto became Montessori certified. He has taught at Montessori schools in Michigan, St. Thomas, San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii and New Mexico. Dr. Maria Montessori's philosophy on education inspired Frank to develop a similar approach in music education.

​While in the Virgin Islands, Frank saw his first steel band. As an ORFF music instructor, he knew instantly that it would be easy for children to successfully play these instruments. For over twenty years, Frank has arranged and directed steel bands for children. They have performed in Disneyland, Disney World, Epcot Center, Washington DC, Universal Studios and educational conferences across the country.



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*Group Guitar classes,  individual piano and Suzuki violin lessons are also offered separately, before and after school by different instructors, so that children can explore a variety of instruments on their own.

Cottonwood School  |  3896 Corrales Road  |  Corrales (near Albuquerque and Rio Rancho), NM 87048
Phone:505-897-8375  |  Fax:505-890-1533