Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, recommended thepentatonic harp or lyre (also known as a kinderharp or kinder lyre) as an ideal instrument for use with young children.
Its dreamy, quiet, and heavenly quality is calming and soothing for babies, toddlers and young children, and it’s simple enough for children and adults with little or no musical background to play.
Tuned in the five-note pentatonic scale (D, E, G, A, B, d, e), anything played on the instrument will sound beautiful and harmonious. There are no wrong notes!
I get phone calls and emails every week asking about the differences between the various pentatonic harps and lyres that we sell at Bella Luna Toys, so in this week’s video I demonstrate the differences between them, talk about the benefits of these instruments for in early childhood, and let you actually hear them.
Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching several sessions to LifeWays students who had come to Maine for the east coast training. The experience allowed me to take a welcome break from the endless data entry I’ve been doing to ready the new Bella Luna Toys website. The LifeWays Child Care Training is a comprehensive training to give students the understanding and skills they need to transform themselves and their work with young children, and is inspired by Waldorf education and the insights of Rudolf Steiner. These students teach in Waldorf schools, childhood centers, pre-schools or home programs.
Among the classes I taught were crayon drawing with beeswax block crayons, and wet-on-wet watercolor painting, as practiced in Waldorf education. I had a marvelous week preparing for the class, immersing myself in form and color! With thanks to Madrona Wienges and her camera, I am able to share images of our classes with you.
Below is reprint of an article I wrote a few years ago. I thought I would repost it here, since this is a perennial question that I am asked by parents of three- to seven-year-olds. Is there a perfect time to start music lessons? Here are my thoughts.”>I am a trained Waldorf early childhood teacher and have also completed training as a “Music Together” teacher (a music and movement program for preschoolers and their parents) through the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, NJ. In addition, I am a Suzuki parent and a strong supporter of Suzuki music education. I have been interested in comparing the similarities and differences between Suzuki and Waldorf pedagogy ever since discovering how much they share in common.
In spite of the number of similarities in approach, one fundamental difference between the two pedagogies is regarding the age at which a child should begin formal music instruction. Suzuki students are encouraged to begin instrumental lessons as early as age two or three. On the other hand, students in a Waldorf school do not begin lessons with string instruments until third or fourth grade. My personal opinion is that Suzuki, for many children, starts too early, and that Waldorf schools may start too late. Based on my research and observation, I believe that the age of seven may be a more appropriate age for most children to begin private music lessons — for many of the same reasons that make seven the ideal age for a child to begin formal, academic learning at school, according to Waldorf philosophy.