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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Discussions with Teachers
GA 295

Third Lecture on the Curriculum

6 September 1919 P.M., Stuttgart

Translated by Katherine E. Creeger

This morning it was pointed out that we can give only general guidelines for music, just as it is possible to give only general guidelines for the visual arts. The details, of course, must be left to the teacher’s independent initiative. If you take these general guidelines in the right way, you will find that, basically, they are able to incorporate whatever you may find reasonable as musical instruction.

In the first, second, and third grades, we will essentially be dealing with very simple musical relationships, which should be applied with a view to developing the human voice and listening ability — that is, we should use the element of music to call upon the individual to use the human voice and the element of sound properly, and also to listen appropriately. I’m sure we all understand this.

Then come the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. By then we will already be involved in explaining musical notation and will be able to do comprehensive scale exercises. Especially in the fifth and sixth grades, we will be able to go into the different keys and talk about D major and so on. We should wait as long as possible before introducing the minor keys, but by this point they too can be presented to the children.

However, the important thing now is to work from the opposite of our original point of view — that is, to get the children to adapt to the demands of music. This means leaning more toward the esthetic in our teaching. At first the children themselves were the focus, and we had to structure everything so that they would learn to listen and sing. But after having been encouraged in this during the first three grades, the children should then begin to adapt to the artistic demands of music, and the pedagogical element becomes the focus.

In the last two elementary grades — the seventh and eighth — I ask you to take into consideration the fact that the children must no longer have the feeling that they are being “trained” to do something, but must feel that they are making music for the pleasure it gives them, for the sake of enjoying it. This must be the thrust of our instruction in music. Therefore, during these two years the children’s musical judgment can be awakened and educated. We can make them aware of the different character of different pieces of music, of the difference in character between a work by Beethoven and a work by Brahms. In simple ways, therefore, we should encourage the children to form opinions about music. Earlier, it was important to refrain from such opinions and judgments, but now we must cultivate them.

Now it will be especially important to understand one thing. You know I said something very similar this morning about the visual arts — that the way we initially use drawing allows writing to develop out of it. Later, however, drawing is used as an end in itself, and art itself becomes the important thing. As soon as the children progress from utilitarian forms of drawing and painting to developing independent artistic forms — in the third or fourth grade — it is also time to make the musical transition just described. At first we must work to affect the children physiologically; our work must help them adapt to the art of music. There should be a correspondence between these transitions in the graphic arts and in music.

One thing in the state curriculum is to our advantage — that there is no physical education instruction during the first three grades. So we may take the opportunity to begin with eurythmy. It would be very nice if eurythmy could be done in harmony with music instruction in the first grade, so that eurythmy would in fact help the children adapt to geometry and music. Not until the second grade would we begin to develop the gestures for the letters. This would be continued in the third grade, always linking eurythmy to music, geometry, and drawing.

Forms are added in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades — for concrete and abstract expressions, and so on — since by now the children will have made enough progress in grammar to make this possible. This is continued in the seventh and eighth grades, but the forms become more complicated.

Starting in the fourth grade, this slot in the schedule is divided between eurythmy and physical education. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, instruction in physical education should focus on the movement of the limbs and include everything that has to do with running, jumping, and climbing. Any exercises on gymnastic apparatus should be kept simple.

More complicated exercises involving equipment should not be done until the seventh and eighth grades. Meanwhile, the freeform exercises should be continued, and they should still all involve running, climbing, and jumping. If you go through all of what you’ve been able to conclude, I’m sure you will find that it agrees with the way I have tried to present this.