the role of music in our lives

we moved liesl to the waldorf school of san diego (a private school) about a month ago, and last night was her first school concert. since waldorf schools teach through the arts quite a bit, music plays a large role in the school. i was struck by the contrast to so many public schools that are cutting music programs (and all arts) due to funding issues, with an assumption (driven by beaurocrats or parents or whomever, i’m not sure) that education is purely about the mind.

the kids at waldorf all start on a stringed instrument in 3rd grade. kids who transfer in later are part of the ‘recorder chorus’. i was expecting aural pain and agony, listening to 3rd – 6th graders playing stringed instruments. but they were actually good. at one point, during a bach piece, played by the 6th grade orchestra, i found myself tearing up at the beauty of the music.

then came the choirs. every kid in the school sings in a choir with their grade. sure, i suppose they don’t all love it. but it seems very normal, since they’re all in it — it’s just part of what they do. they sang classical songs and folk songs and hebrew rounds and a couple songs in german.

listening to all that stuff last night, watching those little 4th grade guys carry their cellos, listening to the 5th graders sing in german, i was once again struck by how formative music is. it’s not just about learning a skill. these kids are having their world view stretched by singing songs from other cultures and languages; they’re working their fine motor skills on stringed instuments and recorders; they’re working as a team to be a part of something bigger than themselves (in the instrumental groups and the choir); and they’re learning something — creating something, really — that connects with their souls, not just their brains.

when god made music, he knew that it was very, very good.

4 thoughts on “the role of music in our lives”

  1. and that is why it’s so diabolical that we spend more money on war than we do on education and cut programs that give our children souls. very sad indeed.

  2. Sounds like a lyrical, loving evening! One of the strengths of Waldorf is music, and I so agree with you about God’s gift of music to us. Music enriches our children’s lives so much!

    Would be interested to hear your thots about Rudolph Steiner
    and anthroposophy. Waldorf has attempted to stand away from
    some of his very racist views which posit non-whites as inferior. Waldorf teachers, tho, are heavily steeped in anthroposophy and it is a significant part of the philosophical underpinings of Waldorf.

    We have friends in Waldorf. One thing they’ve noted is that Waldorf delays beginning reading instruction until 2nd grade. In fact, there aren’t even any children’s literature in the elementary classrooms. I was so surprised when I visited and asked the teachers about it. Instead there is a heavy focus on gnomes which seems imaginative and fun, however, there are many Waldorf instructors who will admit that they DO believe in the existence of gnomes.


  3. Very cool. Reading this makes me miss our public schools in CT even more. Our daughter started the viola in 4th grade. I agree wtih bobbie that it’s sad that we cut music out of many public schools without relating it to diabolical in connection with war. But bobbie and I are friends and it won’t surprise her to read that. :-)

  4. oregonian — yeah, we read a ton about steiner and waldorf, and interviewed the school and the specific teachers our kids would have extensively before choosing it. it’s just a fantastic environment — very nurturing. and we’ve been ver pleased with their desire to see liesl grow in her christian faith. we’ve been promised that kids at this particular school will not ever even hear rudolph steiner’s name, or of anthroposophy. at the end of the day, i think there is good and bad (or at least not-as-good) at every school: public, private christian, and private non-christian. after 25 years of youth ministry, i’ve seen more damage done to the faith of middle schoolers by christian schools (not that they’re all damaging — but as a norm), so we’d rather have our kids in a school that embraces them as spiritual beings (not just brains to be filled), but doesn’t deaden their faith.

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