Category Archives: Music

Waldorf–Inspired Poetry, Song, and Movement Books for Preschool and Kindergarten

One thing that has proven extremely frustrating for me while pursuing information about Waldorf-inspired education, is the inability to see previews of Waldorf books before I order them. My library system carries very few of the books, so I can’t peruse them that way, unless I want to deal with an interlibrary loan, which may or may not get filled and even if it does get filled, usually takes months to receive. Then, many of the stores that sell Waldorf books have a “no refund” policy on books or charge restocking fees or only give store credit. So I’ve ended up purchasing several books that I have regretted. In an effort to help other people avoid the same pitfalls, I thought I would try to give you all the previews and information that the online Waldorf stores do not provide. I do want to note that many books were written many years ago, before computers were available, and had to be self-published. Also, some books were written by Waldorf pioneers, who have since passed on. I am going to be honest and tell you if the typography on such books leaves something to be desired, but I  mean no disrespect to the authors’ hard work.

Today I am only going to be discussing the books of songs and poetry, which often form the very foundation of a Waldorf-inspired preschool or kindergarten education. The three things that I have found most lacking in these books are good typography, indexes, and accompanying CD’s (I can read music, but I prefer, whenever possible, to listen to someone else sing a song before I sing it to Dora).

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For a list of online merchants that sell these books, click here or scroll to the end of the page.




Dancing As We Sing CoverLet Us Form a Ring CoverAcorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten and Nursery has released two anthologies, which are distributed by The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN)Dancing As We Sing and Let Us Form a Ring were written with the Waldorf teacher very much in mind and are more appropriate for larger groups of children than are available in most homeschools. They both provide a variety of seasonal and other circle plays and singing games. Each circle play/singing game is comprised of several poems and songs put together, tied by a theme. There are some movement directions provided for the teacher. It so happens that Dora and I are very good at improvising with circle games, so these work very well for us and I have a soft spot in my heart for these two books. At the same time, I must acknowledge that the print quality of these books is not great. The music and lyrics are handwritten and the poems are typed. The tables of contents leave much to be desired. There are no indexes. I am unable to find a copyright date or ISBN number for either book. Each is spiral bound, with a cardstock-like cover. The books are not illustrated. They measure 8.5” x 11” and are 70 pages each. Each book does have a companion CD available. These sample pages are from Let Us Form a Ring:Let Us Form a Ring 3Let Us Form a Ring 4 Go back to the top of the list of books




A Child’s Seasonal Treasury (ISBN #978-1-300-11492-5), by Betty Jones is a 2nd edition  book, with a 2012 copyright. It is a softback book, that measures 11” x 8.5”, and is 139 pages long. It has beautiful, color illustrations and very professional typography (a cheaper black and white version is also available). It has a complete table of contents, and “Subject and Title Index”, as well as an “Index of First Lines”.  The poems, songs, riddles, and activities are grouped by season (there is also one category for all year round) and then sub-categorized by “verses and poems”, “fingerplays and riddles”, etc. The crafts are good for inspiration, but I don’t consider the directions to be sufficient to consider this a craft book. The recipes are well-written. Unfortunately, there is no companion CD available, that I am aware of. Here are some sample pages from this book:A Child's Seasonal Treasury 1A Child's Seasonal Treasury 5 Go back to the top of the list of books




Clump-a-Dump and Snickle-Snack (ISBN #978-0-936132-23-5), by Johanne Russ, is a 8” x 5.5” booklet of 47 pages of songs. There is no companion CD offered. The copyright is from 1966. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. It is a black and white collection of pentatonic songs, with a couple of basic illustrations. The music and lyrics appear to be done by hand. While the lyrics are neatly done, the music is a bit hard on the eyes. Here is a sample page:Clump-A-Dump and Snickle-Snack Go back to the top of the list of books




A Day Full of Song (ISBN #978-0-9816159-7-4), is a book from The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). It has a 2009 copyright. It is spiral-bound, measures 8.5” x 7”, and is 64 pages long. It contains a collection of 42 original work songs in the mood of the fifth from a Waldorf kindergarten. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. A companion CD is available. The entire book is done in black and white, with some cute illustrations throughout. The music and lyrics, though very neatly done and easily legible, do appear to be done by hand. Here is a sample page:A Day Full of Song Go back to the top of the list of books




Gesture Games for Spring and Summer (ISBN #978-0-972223-80-5) and Gesture Games for Autumn and Winter (ISBN #978-0-972223-89-8) are both written by Wilma Ellersiek. They are translated and edited versions from The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) and were published in 2005 and 2007, respectively. They are 8.5” x 11” softbound books with spiral ring covers and are about 140 pages each. They are printed in black and white, with illustrations showing the gestures. The text is professionally printed, but the music looks suspiciously like it may have been done by hand, though it is easily readable. Companion CD’s are available. They have complete table of contents and due to the nature of the books, indexes are unnecessary. Wilma Ellersiek has also written two other books of note. The first, Dancing Hand, Trotting Pony (ISBN #978-0-979623-28-8), is a collection of gesture games, songs, and movement games. Unfortunately there is no CD to accompany Dancing Hand, Trotting Pony. Giving Love, Bringing Joy (ISBN #978-0-979623-26-4) has an accompanying CD, but the book is comprised mostly of lullabies. Here are some sample pages from the Gesture Games for Spring and Summer book:Gesture Games of Spring and Summer 1Gesture Games of Spring and Summer 3 Go back to the top of the list of books




Golden Beetle Books publishes a series of four handbooks, entitled Lono & Coco Boato, Snowdrop and Ulba Bulba, Silver Story of Silver Stork, and The Flower Flamers and The Earthy Men. The books are 5.5” x 4” and are about 100 pages long. They are bound in pretty, shiny cardstock and tied closed with pretty ribbons. They are obviously self-published, though lovingly so (there is even some glitter on some pages!). They have some cute illustrations, but the photographs are of poor quality. Unfortunately, the print borders on the microscopic at times, so the books can be a real strain on the eyes (I do have 20/20 vision, BTW). They have table of contents, but no indexes. No companion CD’s are available. These books are greatly loved by many Waldorfians, so I hate to disparage them, but I have not brought myself to use them yet, simply because of the hard-to-read print. I would love to see someone professionally re-edit and reprint them as the stories are quite cute and the books exude a deep love for children. Here are a couple of double-page spread samples:Lono and Coco Boato 1Lono and Coco Boato 2 Go back to the top of the list of books




Let’s Dance and Sing (ISBN #978-0-936132-82-2), by Kundry Willwerth, is a spiral bound book, with a card stock-ish cover. It measures 8.5” x 11” and is 55 pages long. It contains 13 circle play/game types of arrangements with drama, music, and movement intertwined. It is has many beautiful and elaborate black and white illustrations. The music appears to be hand written, but most of the lyrics are printed.in a professional manner. There is a good table of contents and an index is unnecessary. The third printing copyright is from 2012.Let's Dance and Sing 1Let's Dance and Sing2 Go back to the top of the list of books




A Lifetime of Joy (ISBN #0-9722238-6-X) contains a collection of circle games, finger games, songs, verses, and puppet plays. It is a softbound book with a 2005 copyright. It measures 8.5” x 11” and is 113 pages long. The music and lyrics are handwritten, though easy to read. The rest of the book is professionally printed. The book contains a thorough table of contents, but no index. Here are some sample pages from the book:A Lifetime of Joy 1A Lifetime of Joy 3 Go back to the top of the list of books




Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures CoverMovement Journeys and Circle Adventures, like the Acorn Hill anthologies, was written with the Waldorf teacher very much in mind and is more appropriate for larger groups of children than are available in most homeschools. It provides a variety of seasonal and other circle plays and singing games. Each circle play/singing game is comprised of several poems and songs put together, tied by a theme. There are many movement directions provided for the teacher. As I mentioned previously, I have a soft spot in my heart for circle games, but once again, I must admit that this book is not the most professionally printed book in the world. It is more professionally printed than the Acorn Hill anthologies, however, with all of the music and lyrics printed in a professional manner. The table of contents is fairly thorough, but no index is provided. There is an accompanying CD. It is a comb-bound book, with a cardstock-ish cover. It has a 2006 copyright, but no ISBN number that I can find. There are no illustrations. The book measures 8.5” x 11” and is 113 pages long.Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures 1Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures 3 Go back to the top of the list of books




Naturally You Can Sing publishes song books that were arranged and sung by Mary Thienes-Schunemann. Each book has a an accompanying CD included. The book I refer to the most is Sing a Song of Seasons (ISBN #978-097083970-1). The books measure 8.5” x 11” and are spiral bound with stiff, semi-laminated-like, covers. The copyrights vary with each book, but are from the early 2000’s. Each book is about 60 pages long. The printing is very professional and the book includes adorable black and white drawings. The books have complete table of contents and some have an alphabetical-order list of the songs in the back of the book. Here is a sample page from Sing a Song of Seasons:Sing a Song of Seasons Go back to the top of the list of books




Pentatonic Songs, by Elisabeth Lebret is a 38 page, 8.5” x 5.5” booklet of pentatonic songs. There is no companion CD offered. It has a 1985 copyright. It has a complete table of contents and due to the nature of the book, an index is unnecessary. It is a black and white collection of pentatonic songs, with a couple of basic illustrations. The lyrics were typed and the music appears to be done by hand. Unfortunately, the print quality seems more like the pages were photocopied, so overall, the book can be a strain on the eyes. Here is a sample page:Pentatonic Songs Go back to the top of the list of books




****The Singing Year (ISBN #978-1-903458-39-6), by Candy Verney is a very thorough song book that includes a CD. Were I to have to choose one, and only one, book from this list, this book would be it. The songs are grouped by season, with an extra section devoted to “Anytime”. It is a black and white, softbound book with a 2006 copyright. It measures 8” x 10” and is 136 pages long. It has a thorough table of contents and an index of first lines. It is very professionally printed, with a scattering of illustrations throughout the book. The end of each section of the book contains a small nature study and seasonal craft section. Here are some sample pages from this book:The Singing Year 1The Singing Year 2 Go back to the top of the list of books




Wynstone Press offers a 6 book set of poetry, songs, and stories. Four of the books are seasonal books. The books are softback and measure 8.5” x 6”. They all have original copyrights from 1978, with various revisions and final reprints in 2010 (except Gateways, which, at least for my copy, was reprinted in 2005). The books are all black and white, with professional typography, and no illustrations. They have good table of contents, which are in alphabetical order, rather than page order, so are kind of like indexes??? Though I do have one Seasonal Songs collection CD from Wynstones School, it does not appear to correlate whatsoever with the books.

Spring (ISBN #978-0-946206-46-9) – 88 pages longSummer (ISBN #978-0-946206-47-6) – 112 pages longAutumn (ISBN #978-0-946206-48-3) – 88 pages longWinter (ISBN #978-0-946206-49-0) – 96 pages longSpindrift (ISBN #978-0-946206-50-6) is the largest of the books, at 224 pages, and contains a very general collection of songs, poems, and stories.Gateways (ISBN #978-0-946206-51-3) is 96 pages long and offers songs and poems about mornings, evenings, and fairytales (not the full fairytale). Here is a sample two-page spread from the Spring book:Spring Go back to the top of the list of books




Online Merchants That Sell These Books

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Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Circle Time, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Music, Poetry, Preschool, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Teaching Yourself to Play the Choroi Quinta Pentatonic Flute

Learning to Play the Choroi Pentatonic FluteI want to start off this post by making it clear that I am not a professional musician in any way, shape or form, nor am I professionally trained Waldorf teacher. I am, however, trying my darndest to make sure that I have taught myself as many of the necessary Waldorfian skills as possible, before Dora enters first grade. With that, comes learning to play the pentatonic flute. Some Waldorf educators will tell you that a student recorder is just fine and I would say to them that it really depends on what you are hoping to gain from the experience. I played the recorder for years, while in elementary school, and the music quality of traditional student recorders just does not come close to that of the Choroi pentatonic flute. In addition, recorders have more complicated fingering, so I do not believe it is reasonable to expect your average first grader to play a recorder. Choroi Flute OilI’m also going to stick  my neck out here and say that you should….yes, I’m going to “should upon you”… buy the Quinta Pentatonic Flute and not the traditional Choroi flute. My reason for this is simply that it appears to me that Choroi is phasing the traditional flute out, so it may become difficult to find replacement tone blocks as time goes by. Not to mention, why would you want to deal with tone blocks that have to be replaced and can get lost in the first place? What even is a tone block? Who cares what a tone block is? I’m not a professionally trained musician, so maybe my ear is just not discerning enough, but I cannot imagine saying that the Quinta sounds anything less than 100% beautiful! The best price I have found the Quinta for is from A Toy Garden. It is currently $85, which is $22 cheaper than most other stores, but it is still nothing to sneeze at. It is worth the cost in my opinion, given the quality of the instrument, but once again, it depends what you are hoping to gain from the experience. If you decide to buy the Quinta, do order some flute oil while you are at it (you can use jojoba oil, and only jojoba oil, instead if you want), as you need the oil immediately (the flute comes with directions on how to oil your flute).

Now, I have a confession to make, not only did I play the recorder for several years, while in school, I also played the clarinet for a few years, and the Saxophone while in university, so I do have some woodwind instrument experience that most people don’t have. This has come in real handy for me in learning to play the Quinta, because I already knew how to tongue, tie, and slur, which I will explain later.Waldorf Teachers' Companion to the Pentatonic Flute 1I have bought many, many books (e-book and bound) that purport to teach you how to play the pentatonic flute, but there is only one book that I could, in good conscience, recommend. It is a spiral bound book (8×11”-ish), published by a small company called Promethean Press, and is entitled Waldorf Teachers’ Companion to the Pentatonic Flute, by John Cyril Miles. Unlike other flute instructional manuals, it is printed in a professional manner (some of the others are actually illegible photocopies of typing and/or handwriting). The Teachers’ Companion clearly shows you how to finger and hold your flute. It presents the notes in a logical order, but with the most difficult notes saved for last. Finally, it has a lovely selection of songs. There are two potential problems, however, that others might have with this book. The first problem is that the foreword is anthroposophian, which might make some people uncomfortable, but can be skipped completely without any negative consequences (you can simply start on page 7, where is says “Begin Here”). The second problem is that the book starts with the assumption that you know the fundamentals of reading music.

 

So, in case there are some of you out there who want to learn to play the pentatonic flute, but don’t know the fundamentals of reading music, I am going to attempt to teach you the basics. I’m going to beg forgiveness ahead of time for any and all mistakes I make or confusion I cause. I never, in my wildest dreams would have thought I’d ever be writing a music tutorial (I haven’t played any music in two decades and was never very serious at my best, Mr. Mo is the musician in our household). I feel strongly, however, that this is an area of weakness in the Waldorf community. There just appears to be a major dearth of good books for learning the pentatonic flute and this is the only book I feel is even acceptable, much less good.
Waldorf Teachers' Companion to the Pentatonic Flute 2
When reading music, you will read a staff, which are the five lines that run across the page and are shown below. The staff includes a symbol that tells you which clef you will be using. For our purposes, we will only be using the G clef. Next to that swirly, “S” thingy there may or may not be a fraction. If there is no fraction next to the clef, then the default fraction is 4/4, which means that there are four beats per measure. If the fraction was 3/4, there would be three beats per measure and so on. In the Teachers’ Companion, all the songs are in 4/4 time. In 4/4 time, a whole note lasts for four beats. A half note lasts half of that, or two beats. A quarter note lasts 1/4th of that, or one beat. An eighth note lasts 1/8th of a whole note, or 1/2 beat. A sixteenth note lasts for 1/16th of a whole note, or 1/4th beat. A 1/32nd note lasts for 1/32 of a whole note, or 1/8th of a beat (yes, that does get confusing, and remember that this is only for 4/4 time). For our purposes, I consider a beat to be the amount of time that it would take for you to tap your foot, which is why some musicians tap their foot while playing music. Sometimes the beats are faster or slower, but to just get yourself going, consider a typical foot tap to be one beat (I am well aware that any and all music experts who have read this post this far are currently experiencing apoplexies from my words, but please, just take a deep breath, remember I am writing this for total beginners, and roll with it).
clefs - Visual Dictionary Online
You read music from left to right. The note symbols look like the ones shown on the chart below. The book will show you what note to play, depending on where the note is located on the staff, vertically, but it doesn’t explain that a hollow circle is a whole note, that a hollow circle with a straight line coming up out of it is a half note, or that a black circle with a straight line coming out of it is a quarter note. The one symbol that this chart does not show and you need to know is called a dotted note. A dotted note is a note with a small dot next it (on the right side). The dot means that you increase the the length of the note by 1/2. So if you have a dotted half note, that means you would hold the note for the two beats for the half note and then an extra beat for the dot, for a total of 3 beats. If you have a dotted quarter note, you hold the note for one beat for the quarter note and an extra half beat for the dot, for a total of 1 1/2 beats. Once again, this assumes 4/4 time.
note symbols - Visual Dictionary Online
These are the symbols for rests, which are times that you don’t play any music. They last as long as their note counterparts.
rest symbols - Visual Dictionary Online
When you play a woodwind instrument, you tongue each note, unless the music tells you otherwise. To tongue a note on the Quinta, you basically tap the mouthpiece with your tongue. Your tongue stops and starts the air from going in and out of the instrument. So if the music shows 5 “D” notes in a row, you would tongue the mouthpiece 5 times, articulating each note independently. Sometimes, you will tie or slur notes together (the technical definition between a tie and a slur is not something you need to know right now, but you can read about it here). This means that you do not tongue between the notes, but will continue to blow for the duration of all the notes together, moving your fingers as applicable (i.e. a half note and a quarter would be held for 3 beats). The symbol for a tie is the same as for a slur and is shown below.
other signs - Visual Dictionary Online
Whoo! That is a lot more information than I thought I was going to need to give. Later, I will discuss the why’s and wherefores of the pentatonic scale.

If I actually managed to convey this information correctly and you work through the Teachers’ Companion, Promethean Press also publishes another book of folksongs that have been adapted for the pentatonic flute by John C. Miles.

Folksongs for the Pentatonic Flute

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Music, Pentatonic Flute, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

pi10k – The Online Experiment That Meshes Math and Music

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pi10k is a really cool experiment for anyone with a little bit of inner geekiness. Felix Jung has created a program that converts the first 10,000 digits of pi into a musical sequence. You select ten notes and your corresponding selection translates into an integer. As your computer cycles through the numbers of pi, it will play the note that you selected to correspond to that number. The result is not exactly beautiful, at least using the notes I selected, but it is really interesting.

Labels: Math, Music
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Art and Music Currciulum

 

Previously, I posted about online curriculum resources for teaching art and music, but I also wanted to post about art and music curriculum sources that aren’t online. I will also add this list to my art and music resources page, where I will update it as needed. Please let me know of any curriculums that you know of that I have not included.

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  • Art Curriculum and Supplies 
    • Art for Homeschool – in addition to being able to watch this video series online, you can purchase the DVD’s. The Elements of Art Series is over 5 hours of 8 lessons covering line, value, shape, form, texture, space, and color.
    • Artistic Pursuits – This award winning homeschool art program meets the specific needs of homeschoolers at home. A variety of fun applications teach both the expressive and technical aspects of art while allowing children to make choices about what and how they will draw, paint, and sculpt.  Assignments work within the stages of artistic development of children and  guide them to mature artistic expression in the visual arts.
    • Atelier – Atelier by Arts Attack is devoted to developing and publishing high quality, easy-to-teach, DVD-based visual art lessons for children. Used extensively by homeschool parents & co-op art-teachers, Atelier is known for enabling home educators to achieve exceptional artwork from their students and for its process oriented and experiential approach to teaching – which teaches to the right side of the brain, developing learning and creative skills that enhance student performance in all areas and throughout life. 
    • Core Knowledge Bookstore – sells sets of unbound, shrink-wrapped, full-color art prints, which includes all of the artworks listed in the Visual Arts section of the Core Knowledge Sequence for the grade in question (What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know).
    • Dick Blick – has a humongous selection of all types of art materials and supplies
    • Discoveries in Art – In addition to their regular curriculum, Calvert offers enrichments. You do not need to purchase the full curriculum to use these enrichments. This two-DVD course will introduce your student to hundreds of images of paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and photographs by artists ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to school-aged children. Projects include a self-portrait, cartoons, papier-mâché sculpture, printing, and more. Art supplies and an easy-to-use Lesson Manual are included.
    • Evan-Moor – offers a limited selection of books for teaching art to children
    • Exploring Art Media – is a guide for discovering the methods and creative techniques of the visual arts. It was expressly written and designed for the independent learner and individuals who want to improve their basic art skills.
    • Harmony Fine Arts at Home – Year-long learning plans for studying fine-arts. Plans include week by week schedules, materials and supplies lists, and an explanation of how to implement the program. You can purchase the books from their website directly, borrow them from the library, or use online resources given in the plans.
    • How Great Thou Art (Christian) – Barry Stebbing’s curriculum teaches topics like Fundamentals of Drawing & Painting, Manners & Etiquette, Journaling and much more.
    • Klutz – offers a variety of unique art and craft books/sets.
    • Miller Pads and Papers – is a discount art and educational supply warehouse
    • Mister Art– discount art and craft supply store

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  • Music Curriculum and Supplies
    • Discoveries in Music – In addition to their regular curriculum, Calvert offers enrichments. You do not need to purchase the full curriculum to use these enrichments. Discoveries in Music introduces students to a variety of musical forms. Students learn about the various instrument families, study basic music theory concepts, and are introduced to important composers. Children will learn some basic skills by playing string, percussion, and wind instruments, using the included lap harp, triangle, and flutophone. The course presents thirty-two lessons on DVD.
    • Discovering Music – a music history and appreciation course
    • FJH Music Company – publishes music instruction books for a variety of instruments
    • FreeHand Music – offers music learning software and the most extensive selection of legal Digital Sheet Music and Guitar Tab Downloads available for musicians online
    • Harmony Fine Arts at Home – Year-long learning plans for studying fine-arts. Plans include week by week schedules, materials and supplies lists, and an explanation of how to implement the program. You can purchase the books from their website directly, borrow them from the library, or use online resources given in the plans.
    • McGraw Hill Higher Education – Publishers of Music: An Appreciation curriculum by Roger Kamien, which is an excellent resource for a high school music history and appreciation curriculum
    • Morton Subotnick’s Creating Music – a variety of fun software programs so that allow teachers to help and guide the children to learn the fundamentals of music theory and to create and compose music.
    • Music Wizard – software curriculum that teaches how to play the piano
    • Phonics 4 Piano – curriculum that teaches young children to play the piano or keyboard while preparing the child to read music
    • Simply Music – the “learn at home” program uses software to teach students to play the piano

Labels: Curriculum, Music
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff