Music teaches focus and concentration; it enhances the learning of academic material; it brings culture and social graces to the student. At San Francisco Waldorf School, we come to our work in music with the belief that it is important to us as human beings because it speaks to us of our spiritual homes. Music reminds us that we are beings of body, soul, and spirit.
In first and second grades, our class teachers introduce the Choroi pentatonic flutes, and all the children learn to play simple melodies together by the end of second grade. This instrumental work is brought through stories and pictures rather than through theory and conscious technique. In second grade the music teacher introduces the pentatonic lyre, singing games, and experiences of the elements of music; recognizing light and dark, high and low, fast and slow, soft and loud.
Beginning in the third grade, the children are ready for quite a different approach to music and music‐making. The third graders begin note reading, look at the instrument families, and experience playing and singing in parts, beginning with simple rounds. About this time the children begin to think about choosing an orchestral instrument to study and play in their class orchestra, which will begin in grade four.
Each class in grades four through eight becomes a self‐contained orchestra. In the fourth and fifth grades, orchestral arrangements are written specifically for each class to help the children move inwardly from self to other in the alternation of playing and listening. Repertoire is chosen for its melodic integrity, appropriateness of key and meter, and for the way it
harmonizes and balances the individual class.
By the time the students reach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, they are coming closer to the earth and its rhythms. They need to be met musically with material that is challenging and diverse. The strong pull of gravity can be balanced artistically through the music of the classical composers. Another characteristic of the older student is the strong desire to be seen and heard as an individual. As they find their own voices, both literally and figuratively, music that brings strong and clearly differentiated tone qualities is very satisfying.