Arts and Music
“Rhythm and melody enter into the soul of the well-instructed youth and produce there a certain mental harmony hardly obtainable in any other way.” ---Plato, The Republic
The Shepherd Valley Waldorf curriculum views music as a vital contributor to the child’s development. The study of music engages both sides of the brain as it develops focus, discipline, collaboration, communication, creative expression, and physical co-ordination. Music is, all at once, an acoustical science, mathematical, a study of history, a foreign language and, above all, an art that expresses the spiritual and emotional qualities of being human.
From kindergarten through 2nd grade the children at SVW experience melody as much as possible through singing and use of the pentatonic flutes. The pentatonic scale produces a supportive experience of perpetual harmony because there is no tension or conflict within the scale; thus, a harmonious sense of well-being is engendered.
In 3rd grade the diatonic recorder is introduced, and with it the interval of the third, which adds color to the harmonic environment. 3rd graders also begin to play strings, either violin, viola, or cello, and the practice of a stringed instrument cultivates the ear of the child in a living way through the forming of each tone. At this point a special working collaboration between home and school is encouraged, to help the child establish a consistent rhythm for practicing.
In 4th grade, strings, recorders, and class singing incorporate rounds and chordal harmony. These musical forms are metaphors for the child’s experience of individuality within a group (the Nine-Year Change). Introduction to written music is also undertaken at this time.
5th grade students are introduced to the alto recorder and may choose a wind instrument.
In 5th-8th grades mixed instrumental ensembles (including the school orchestra) become a part of the curriculum, as does middle school choir. In choir the children are exposed to 2- and 3-part singing of music from all periods and styles. Students continue to play recorders and sing with their classroom teachers through 8th grade.
Music supports the festival life of ShepherdValleyWaldorfSchool, and all assemblies during the school year are infused with musical offerings. Two all-music concerts are presented per year, one during the Winter Holiday season, and one towards the end of the school year. The students are always eager to showcase their well-rounded, developing musical skills.