Facebook has been abuzz lately with articles about the benefits of musical training on the brains and learning abilities of our children. The influence of music training on learning has long been cultivated in Waldorf Education, where musical instrument training begins in Grade 1 with pentatonic flutes and moves to stringed instruments by Grade 4. Students also receive choral training, study music reading and notation, and learn Solfege.
This latest round of internet excitement comes from a new study released by researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. They found that children between age 6 and 18 had both physiological and behavioral benefits from musical instrument training.
According to this Washington Post article, Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children, James Hudziak, Director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, says, “What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument [the more it] accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.” When children played and practiced playing an instrument, it thickened an area of the brain related to “executive functioning, including working memory, attention control, as well as organisation and planning for the future.”
This new study is also layered on top of three additional studies published late in 2013 by The Society for Neuroscience. According to the press release, those finding show that “[l]ong-term high level musical training has a broader impact than previously thought. Researchers found that musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight” (Julie Roy, abstract 550.13).
The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult; beginning training before the age of seven has the greatest impact (Yunxin Wang, abstract 765.07).
Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the rain (Ana Pinho, MS, abstract 122.13).
Music Training at SGWS
Here at Spring Garden Waldorf School, musical training is seen as a layering of abilities. What is taught in the early grades is built upon each year, as more and more is expected musically from the students. Children are given regular opportunities to perform their music, at monthly Assemblies and also at Concerts and Festivals.
Grades 1 & 2:
In the early years, music is an expression and embodiment of imagination. In Grades One and Two, children learn music from the pentatonic scale both in song and on their flutes or recorders.
In Grade Three, during the nine-year change, children are ready to begin learning the language of music. A diatonic scale is introduced with a new recorder, notes are named by letter, and children learn basic music notation such as the scale and clef. Third graders also begin Solfege – a music education method used to teach pitch and sight singing.
Grade Four brings fraction studies, and fractions bring quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes, which then leads to teaching rhythms, rounds, and some simple harmony. Now that the language of music has been introduced, children begin to play musical instruments, starting with the violin.
Students in Grade Five are ready for three parts in choral music. Accidentals are also introduced in this grade, and new keys are taught beyond the key of C. Students also continue to master the violin with regular training and performance.
In Grade Six, children can choose to expand their instrumental repertoire by selecting a different stringed instrument to master beyond the violin. They also learn and master written music from the Medieval period, aligning music with the Main Lesson curriculum. Acoustics are also studied this year.
Grade 7 & 8:
Middle School layers skills and practice upon all that has been learned before. Ensemble choirs read music and sing in harmony and rhythm. Sight singing also begins and Solfege study continues, and Orchestra is part of every student’s curriculum. Students can also begin training on woodwind instruments in the upper grades, if they so choose, or they can continue to master their stringed instrument choices.
Dear SGWS Parents,
On Saturday, April 18, 2015, Spring Garden Waldorf School will host its 26th Annual Benefit, Come Together – Heads, Hearts, and Hands. Our benefit will be held once again at the historic Greystone Hall in downtown Akron.
This event is a very fun evening and a great opportunity to invite friends and family to support SGWS. Mark your calendars and plan to purchase early bird tickets when they go on sale in February.
The Annual Benefit is our school’s biggest fundraiser and we need the support of our parent community to be successful in meeting our goal of raising $36,000.
We work to limit our fundraising to the Annual Giving Campaign and the Annual Benefit. We ask that each family support both of these important fundraisers that provide money to our general operating budget and help keep SGWS tuition costs one of the lowest of all Waldorf schools in the US.
This year we are asking each family to do at least one of the following in support of the event:
- Donate an item or service to the event. Consider the following ideas:
- Handmade items are always popular at our auction
- Donate a service to the auction. Babysitting, class lunches, a dessert a month for the year, custom outings/experiences for children or adults are some examples.
- Gift certificates to restaurants and for experiences are very popular. Consider soliciting one from your favorite local business, or ask Sandy Conley for some suggestions for businesses you can solicit.
- Solicit an ad or sponsorship from a business that you frequent.
Please click here to download a copy of the procurement packet, which includes all necessary paperwork for donations, ads, and sponsorships.
Additionally, this information can be completed online using the following links:
- To make a donation: Click here
- To purchase an advertisement: Click here
- To be an Auction sponsor: Click here
You can also click here to access a very helpful FAQ document.
If you have any questions, please contact Sandy Conley, Auction Chair, via email or at 330-784-5298. Thank you for your support of SGWS!
As you may know, or may have learned recently when we dropped a note in your mailbox, 30 hours of volunteering is required from each of our families. Part of those hours must come from a collective work day at the school. Work days are our most effective way to accomplish larger scale projects. They also help project planning and completion, help build community, and show the children what’s involved in supporting the school. Many hands make light work.
Here is the upcoming 2015 Work Day schedule.
Please Click to sign up and you’ll be redirected to our online Sign Up tool, SignUpGenius.
Mardi Gras Benefit Bash at Tangiers- February 7
The Third annual Mardi Gras Benefit Bash this year is set for February 7, 2015, at 6 p.m. at The Tangiers Restaurant in West Akron. There will New Orleans themed tapas, live performers, and live Zydeco music! Proceeds from the event benefit Spring Garden Waldorf School and Music Alive.
Big Love Festival at Musica – February 28
For the second year in a row, Big Love Fest, a free, family-friendly festival celebrating community, creativity, and collaboration, will take place from noon-midnight on all three floors of the Musica Complex (51 East Market Street in Akron) Saturday, February 28.
We are looking for volunteers to staff a children’s activity table at this amazing festival. You can volunteer for a single hour or for multiple hours. To sign up, please click here.