By Veronika Roemer, Lehighton, PA - firstname.lastname@example.org
Music With Young Children – Last autumn, I was part of a homeschooling initiative, a group of six families with a total of twelve children aged 18 months to 12 years old. The group met one day a week for eight weeks. There was strong interest in Waldorf education and related topics among the mothers. They met at the end of each school day for a session with the main teacher to discuss child raising questions. I had the great fortune to make music with them all. This was a unique and new learning experience for me. I had never before taught music to preschool children or to mixed age groups. The school-aged children were a familiar age group from teaching instrumental lessons. We did a lot of singing and instrumental playing, like the youth group at the lyre conference last summer in Detroit.
But little ones – that was something completely new. It was a small group, seven children including the 18 month-old. All the mothers and the Kindergarten teacher participated, too, which was wonderful, as one or more children were often missing. I used pentatonic and mood of the fifth songs, pentatonic and bordun lyres, iron and copper rods, gongs, triangle and cymbals, drums, and my solo lyre. I attempted to adjust to this particular age group the games I had learned from Par Ahlbom, and also new ideas I gained from a fantastic book by Reinhild Brass: “Discovering Ways/Paths of Listening.” (This book is only in German, as far as I know, and needs to be translated).
The children enjoyed the instruments (and so did the mothers, I think, even more so than the children). Sometimes they could hardly wait to play them! Every child had opportunities to play every instrument, and some made a strong connection with the one or the other. Towards the end of the eight sessions, I noticed a big difference in one child who initially didn’t have enough inner quiet to listen to the resounding of a rod or gong and never lasted until the end of the session (about 20 minutes), but walked away or declared she was hungry. Now she had become much quieter, participated with the group, and stayed to the end. But the biggest gift was to hear her sing strongly and confidently with a clear, pure, high voice.