Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia: Three Approaches for Music Learning

Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia are well known as popular preschool approaches, but what is not well known, is that each of these approaches has a defined music pedagogy.


Waldorf

Philosophy- Anthroposophy (spiritual science)

Education develops the soul’s capacity to experience individuality and relationship to community.

Waldorf Music Learning Pedagogy

A world of sound, tone, and rhythm begins as unformed and undifferentiated.

Waldorf schools believe that the experience of listening is imperative for children to develop before moving onto more formal music learning experiences.

Waldorf schools believe that the experience of listening is imperative for children to develop before moving onto more formal music learning experiences.

Listening is something that must be slowly and carefully acquired.  A very different skill from simply hearing sound.

Listening is something that must be slowly and carefully acquired.  A very different skill from simply hearing sound.

In the early years of a Waldorf education instruments are only used for tone color and mood- never for melodic or rhythmic purposes.

In the early years of a Waldorf education instruments are only used for tone color and mood- never for melodic or rhythmic purposes.

The Waldorf curriculum uses daily movement, dances, and song games with the purpose of nurturing children’s physical and spiritual development. Central to the Waldorf approach are carefully selected materials and activities based on developmental stages and sensitive periods for learning.

The Waldorf curriculum uses daily movement, dances, and song games with the purpose of nurturing children’s physical and spiritual development. Central to the Waldorf approach are carefully selected materials and activities based on developmental stages and sensitive periods for learning.

Music pedagogy begins in the “mood of the fifth”- five note melodies containing open fifths centering around the note A.

Music pedagogy begins in themood of the fifth”- five note melodies containing open fifths centering around the note A.

Specially composed music corresponds with specific grade level curriculum lessons. 

Specially composed music corresponds with specific grade level curriculum lessons. 

Songs are often about nature, the seasons, saints and heroes and relate well with dramatic play.

Songs are often about nature, the seasons, saints and heroes and relate well with dramatic play.

As children reach higher developmental levels rhythmic instruments are introduced.

As children reach higher developmental levels rhythmic instruments are introduced.

The Choroi flute is the first melodic instrument introduced to children.  The keynote C is used as a central grounding tone for developing the child's ear for hearing and understanding diatonic and other tonalities.

The Choroi flute is the first melodic instrument introduced to children.  The keynote C is used as a central grounding tone for developing the child's ear for hearing and understanding diatonic and other tonalities.

Recorder is studied after the diatonic ear is developed and recorder instruction introduces how to read music notation.

Recorder is studied after the diatonic ear is developed and recorder instruction introduces how to read music notation.

Children are also expected to learn traditional string and wind instruments as they mature musically.

Children are also expected to learn traditional string and wind instruments as they mature musically.

Older children are encouraged to integrate their musical skills with the grade level cultural and historical curriculum they are currently studying.

Older children are encouraged to integrate their musical skills with the grade level cultural and historical curriculum they are currently studying.

Children also study Eurythmy, a performance art combining music, dance, and speech.

Children also study Eurythmy, a performance art combining music, dance, and speech.

Eurythmy was a new art form created by Waldorf's founder, Rudolf Steiner

Eurythmy was a new art form created by Waldorf's founder, Rudolf Steiner

A Eurythmy performance by Waldorf high school students.

 

Montessori

Philosophy-

Independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child's natural mental, physical, and social development.

Central to the Montessori approach are carefully selected materials and activities based on developmental stages for learning.

Central to the Montessori approach are carefully selected materials and activities based on developmental stages for learning.

Montessori Music Pedagogy

Sensory, manipulative materials provide children self-paced exploration and problem solving skills.

In preparation for music learning Montessori schools begin with “lessons in silence” before moving onto discrimination of sound and music.

Listening and moving to music is important in the early years.  In Montessori schools there are "concert hours" that encourage children to engage in spontaneous movement.

Special instruments, designed by Maria Montessori, such as the Montessori Bells encourage pitch training through auditory discrimination problem solving.

Special instruments, designed by Maria Montessori, such as the Montessori Bells encourage pitch training through auditory discrimination problem solving.

Sets of wooden cylinders with varying dynamics and timbre are sorted by children into sound discrimination categories.

Sets of wooden cylinders with varying dynamics and timbre are sorted by children into sound discrimination categories.

Children use the Monchord to strategically place fret-like pieces of wood underneath the string to match specific pitches heard.

Children use the Monchord to strategically place fret-like pieces of wood underneath the string to match specific pitches heard.

Montessori instruments provide children with tactile, sensory problem-solving challenges and can be completed at each child’s own pace with little adult supervision.

Montessori instruments provide children with tactile, sensory problem-solving challenges and can be completed at each child’s own pace with little adult supervision.

After the child's ear is more developed, manipulative materials and games teach music notation and theory.

After the child's ear is more developed, manipulative materials and games teach music notation and theory.

Carefully prepared materials and musical challenges also prepare children for playing instruments in ensembles and singing in choirs.

Carefully prepared materials and musical challenges also prepare children for playing instruments in ensembles and singing in choirs.

 

The Reggio Emilia Approach

Philosophy- Social Constructivism.  

The child is capable, has rights, and learns in the relationships with others.

Reggio Approach Music Pedagogy

Artistic symbolic systems are valued as rich, complex, and meaningful languages for children to learn and express understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Aesthetically pleasing, natural materials are provided for open-ended exploration.

Aesthetically pleasing, natural materials are provided for open-ended exploration.

The environment of the classroom is aesthetically pleasing and reflects the beauty of nature.

The environment of the classroom is aesthetically pleasing and reflects the beauty of nature.

A professionally trained artist (atelierista) creates artistic provocations for group project learning.  Projects are based on the children’s current interests and a part of a non-planned, emergent curriculum.

A professionally trained artist (atelierista) creates artistic provocations for group project learning.  Projects are based on the children’s current interests and a part of a non-planned, emergent curriculum.

Children’s artistic work is carefully documented and later shared with teachers, parents and children. New project ideas are negotiated democratically between teachers, parents, children and community.

Children’s artistic work is carefully documented and later shared with teachers, parents and children. New project ideas are negotiated democratically between teachers, parents, children and community.


 

Comparison of Approaches and Music Pedagogies