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.