Music is an essential part of the Waldorf curriculum and permeates the school day from kindergarten through eighth grade. Music not only enlivens the spirit but increases a child's capacity for learning. Through the study of music, we learn to sensitize our hearing, allowing us to better listen to the sounds of the world and to each other.
In the earliest years (kindergarten through first grade), the children sing primarily pentatonic melodies without harmony. In grade one, the interval flute and pentatonic flute are introduced and in second grade we add the pentatonic harp.
Beginning in grade three, the students learn a more mindful approach to music, in keeping with their developing self-consciousness. In this grade, we move on to the diatonic flute and sing rounds and write music. Most importantly, each student begins individual instruction on a string instrument. With guidance from the music and class teachers, parents are responsible for the arrangement for a private teacher and the fees involved, and the procurement of an instrument. Group string lessons are part of the third grade weekly curriculum, and are therefore free of charge.
Playing violin or cello, whichever the student chooses, trains the ear in a deep way. Students refine their sense of pitch as each note is created by their fingers. The tangible vibrations of the string resonate near their heart through the flowing movements of the arm. In keeping with the Waldorf understanding that children aged seven to fourteen are in the feeling phase of life, we strongly encourage students to play their string instruments throughout their elementary and middle school years. However, we recognize that for some children a change to a wind or brass instrument may be beneficial in fifth grade or above.
In the middle school, string ensembles, recorder groups, and choirs are formed and offer musical performances to the community within and beyond our school. Elements of musical theory are woven into the musical curriculum each middle school year. We also explore the lives of composers and aspects of music history. The soprano recorder is introduced in fifth grade, the alto recorder in sixth grade, the tenor often in seventh grade, and the bass in eighth grade.
The Waldorf music teacher takes a primary interest in each child's musical development but other adults also contribute to and support these efforts. The class teacher plays a vital role either by singing with the class and/or by playing recorder with them. The relationship each student develops with his or her private teacher is an important one, while parents help by supporting concentrated and regular practice times at home.
Waldorf School of Atlanta's middle school String Chamber Orchestra playing the Allegro from George Friedric Handel's Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No. 1 arranged by Sandra Dackow recorded on May 14, 2015.
Our music faculty members include Mary Horst, Brittney Jaynes, and Eleanor Winship.
Mary Horst has been playing cello since the fifth grade, and studying music in some way since the age of three. An Atlanta native, she studied cello performance at Indiana University in Bloomington and graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Mary’s truest love is chamber music, and she has performed in ensembles from duet to octet and everything in between. She is a founding member of Clairemont Strings, a performing string trio in the Atlanta area, and coaches high school ensembles for Franklin Pond Chamber Music alongside members of the Atlanta Symphony. She performs with several regional symphony orchestras, including those of Augusta, Macon, and Valdosta. Mary has also enjoyed venturing into the worlds of musical theatre and opera, and has performed at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Serene Playhouse, and Capital City Opera Company. She has toured in China with the Hollywood Concert Orchestra, performing music from film and television. Mary teaches music lessons to students aged 3 to 103, is on the faculty of the Suzuki Talent Education Program in Buckhead, and teaches privately at The Galloway School. She loves to travel and recently spent a month teaching English and Math in Jaipur, India. After she finishes teaching for the day, you might find her taking yoga or ballet class, or practicing while her dog, Dolly, sleeps under the chair.
Brittney Jaynes, born in Seoul, South Korea, was adopted as a baby. She grew up in Conyers, GA and graduated from Rockdale County High School in the top ten students of her class. While growing up, Brittney studied dance and piano, and participated in jazz and marching bands, musicals, and chorus. Brittney graduated cum laude from Berry College in 2006 with a Bachelor's in Music Education. She began her teaching career at Morrow Middle School and then went on to teach at Conyers Middle School, her alma mater. Her students participated in many musical activities, including chorus, ensembles and workshops. Under the direction of Walter Huff, Brittney was the Children's Choir Director at Morningside Presbyterian Church and a member of the Atlanta Opera Chorus. Brittney is currently the Associate Director of Music at Snellville United Methodist Church where she conducts the Women's and Men's Ensembles, and the Middle and High School Choirs. She also teaches vocal, piano, and flute lessons and is an accompanist for several high schools in her spare time.
As a child growing up in New York, Eleanor Winship was a student at the Waldorf School of Garden City. While in high school there, she attended the pre-college division of Julliard School of Music. Eleanor earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory, where she was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society. Eleanor has been involved in Waldorf education for more than thirty years. She joined the WSA faculty in 1993, after teaching music at the Toronto Waldorf School and the Great Barrington Waldorf School. Eleanor has mentored and evaluated music programs at a number of Waldorf schools and has given courses to prospective Waldorf teachers at Rudolf Steiner College, Antioch University Waldorf Teacher Training Program, Sunbridge College, Steiner Early Childhood Teacher Training (Bangkok), and the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training. She is frequently asked to conduct workshops and share her expertise at Waldorf and Anthroposophical conferences and summer programs in the United States and abroad. Married for more than thirty years, Eleanor has two grown-up children. Her son attended WSA, completed his studies at Athens Academy, and graduated from the University of Georgia. Her daughter graduated from WSA, attended St. Mary's College in Maryland for her B.A. and received her M.S.N. at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta.