Wednesday 12th January
David Kim, first chair violist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, is visiting Philadelphia schools to introduce classical music to students. Last week WHYY ran an article about Kim’s visit to schools. “Many schools in the city have squeezed music education into art classes. In other schools, music has been cut out altogether. “We are going to have a cultural ghetto if we keep going down this road,” said Kim”
Walter Bitner, writing on the website for The Association of North American Waldorf Music Educators, writes, “for millennia, music has been a human activity held in common by people of all classes of virtually every culture. Like all the arts, the impulse to sing or play music on an instrument is a response to the wonder of existence, and music has been traditionally a part of sacred and social activities (culture) as well as an accompaniment to the work and play of everyday life. Until very recently in human history, the experience of hearing music was only possible when the music was produced by live musicians, or by the listener themselves.” He goes on to note that the traditional role of music has been eroded and that it is only by making music oneself that can truly engage mind, body and feelings.
At The Waldorf School of Philadelphia we acknowledge that from a very early age children are naturally musical and ready to imitate what they hear. Music forms a strong part of the curriculum in our early childhood programs. Then in the first grade the teacher leads the students into creating and experiencing the beauty and purity of tone by singing and playing the flute in unison. Learning to play and sing as one voice is an important experience of the individual as part of the living, creative community.
Through daily experience with melodies and rhythms, every student learns to create music as an expression of the joy within. Students are introduced to and play simple wooden flutes in the first grade. In the third grade all students learn to play the soprano recorder, learning the alto and tenor recorders in later grades. Around this time, students are able to relate to music more consciously. They learn to read music and begin to sing in round and learn ostinato parts to compliment melodies of songs.
In fourth grade, all our students begin private lessons in either violin, viola, cello or bass, and participate in the school orchestra program. Orchestra continues to eighth grade.
This full, exciting and deeply satisfying music curriculum instills a lifelong love of music in our students. For most Waldorf students, music remains and important part of life long after they graduate.
To read Walter Bitner’s full article visit http://waldorfmusic.org/bitner.html
To read more about David Kim and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Philadelphia School project visit http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/art-entertainment-sports/item/10372-03pcorch
To learn more about the role of music curriculum at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia visit our Open House on Saturday 22nd January at 10.00 a.m. It is expected that a section of the school orchestra will play. To make a reservation please visit http://www.philadelphiawaldorf.org or telephone Alex Borders, Director of Admissions at 215 248 1210
Main photography by Aaron Warkov