There is a debate of which came first — music or language. But one thing is for sure, the role of music in human history is as essential and prevalent as language itself. It is used to this day for ritual, expression and community. This is what Mr. Edward Grimes gathered to share with parents at Spring Garden on the morning of March 25th, as he discussed music education at each of the grade levels.
He described the music curriculum as a layering process that corresponds to the methodology of teaching throughout Waldorf Education. What is taught in the beginning, or early grades, is never lost or “moved beyond” so much as layered upon.
In the early years, this applies to music as an expression and embodiment of imagination. In first and second grade, children learn music from the pentatonic scale both in song and on their flutes or recorders. The songs are rich in story, movement and expression, so that the children can learn what it is to imagine through music.
In third grade, the nine year change means children are ready to begin learning the language of music. A diatonic scale is introduced, notes are named by letter, and children learn basic music notation such as the scale and cleff. Third graders also begin Solfege – a music education method used to teach pitch and sight singing.
Fourth grade brings fraction studies and fractions bring quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes, which then lends to teaching rhythms, and rounds and some simple harmony. Now that the language of music has been introduced, children begin to play musical instruments, starting with the violin.
Grade five is ready for three parts in choral music and will sing Glorious Apollo as part of their study of the Greeks. Accidentals are also introduced in this grade and new keys are taught beyond the key of C.
In class six, there begins an amazing opportunity. Written music from the time period of study — Medieval Times — is now available! The children can be given Gregorian Chants and other time period pieces to learn. Acoustics are also studied this year. And class six students, who are more attuned to their outside world, can begin to also attune themselves to what lies within.
They can be taught to think about, and influence, the sound of their own voice — an instrument which can only be seen through the mind’s eye and can only be changed with subtle manipulation of their physical selves. Class Six students can also choose different instruments to play beyond the strings.
Middle School then layers skills and practice upon all that has been learned before. Ensemble choirs read music and sing in harmony and rhythm. Site singing also begins and Solfege study continues. And Orchestra is now part of every student’s curriculum.
Through it all, Mr. Grimes takes great care in choosing the most appropriate music for the students in each grade. He says, “I don’t teach pieces of music. I teach the music in the pieces.” As a final thought he encouraged the parents to expose their children to live music and help them experience the human connection: “Seeing one human make music, which they then experience first hand, is crucial for learning and human connection.”
This is a hands on experience of sixth grade curriculum, which studies Medieval history in depth. Class Six children study the rise and fall of Rome and the affect Greek and Roman culture had on European civilization up through the Middle Ages.
As shared by our friends at the Cincinnati Waldorf School:
The students are hosted overnight by CWS families and then arrive the next morning at our Meshewa campus for a day filled with jousting, steeplechase, archery, dungeon escape, log cross, moat jumping, tug-of-war, and of course, lots of mud! The event combines history, ethical conduct, Bardic Circle presentations of music and verse, and physical challenges in a Medieval tournament. The chivalry, steadfastness and valor that each student displays at the Medieval Games is truly amazing. The fun, friendship and memories of this experience will last a lifetime.
To learn more about this exciting event, please click here.
Maya finished 1st in the K – 12 Reserve Division. Maya was the only participant to achieve a perfect score (5 wins)! Mia finished 2nd in the K – 5 Non-Rated Division. Both Maya and Mia currently practice chess at Discovery Montessori with their after school chess program.
Mia’s brother Andrew Scott and Maya’s brother Rowan Miller, will also compete with Maya in the Ohio Elementary State Chess Tournament on Saturday, May 17th in Columbus, OH.
Congratulations to all our chess champions! Great job!
Main Lesson subjects expand in Grade 5 to include, History, Botany and Geography in addition to Mathematics and Language Arts. North American geography is studied both physically and culturally, meaning the physical understanding of landscapes (mapping and make-up of mountains, rivers and prairies) is linked with the way human life has been lived in each region such as how humans used natural resources, developed industry, and produced crops
As part of this curriculum, each Fifth Grade student is given a state to research. They then present to class their findings by creating a poster board, making a food that represents the state, and speaking about their given state to the rest of the class. Students then all take part in the Class 5 State Fair, where grades 3 – 8 tour and ask each student questions about their state.
Here are some wonderful pictures from this year’s Class 5 State Fair.
When parents are researching private schools, the myriad of options and different educational philosophies can sometimes be overwhelming. Many of our prospective parents are considering transitioning their children from public school into a Waldorf Education. And so, the question becomes, “What exactly is the difference between my child’s current experience and Waldorf?”
One might generally summarize the differences in this way: Waldorf puts high value in art, critical thinking, and creativity and does not pursue academic instruction before the age of seven. Public school puts a high value on standard and measurable academics, with a focus on math and reading starting at age five.
But this does not shed much light on the multi-layered and nuanced approaches of each system. In an effort to clarify, we have created this chart describing similarities and differences in each educational system. But, for true clarification about these methods and their appropriateness for your child, visit schools in your area and experience in-session classroom visits.
No matter what type of education is right for your child is up to you and your family, we encourage you to tour a Waldorf school while class is in session to experience Waldorf education first hand. Learn More HERE if you’d like to visit Spring Garden Waldorf of Northeast Ohio.
When: April 8th 9 a.m.-10 a.m. or April 8th 7 p.m.-8 p.m.
Mr. Gannon, an experienced Waldorf teacher, has graciously offered to give a talk for parents. His talk will cover how skills and curriculum are approached in the first grade. This is an exceptional opportunity to educate yourself on how Waldorf education meets the needs of the child by presenting developmentally appropriate material, or, as we like to say, “the right thing at the right time”.
This event is FREE and open to all SGWS families as well as the greater community. We hope you are able to join us for this informative presentation. Please feel free to bring friends, family or acquaintances who would like to learn more.
We look forward to seeing you there!