Actually ...

By Mathias Maurer, February 2021

... what we imagined the life of a Waldorf school to be like and what we experienced in pre-Corona times no longer happens – despite all the imaginative education we might feel called upon to develop: the risk-free personal encounter, the exchange between people without fear, the bubbly togetherness.

No monthly festivals, no concerts, no Advent bazaars, no class plays, no school trips. Instead: separate pupil cohorts, designated routes where to walk, parents’ evenings and teachers’ meetings at a distance, compulsory masks...

In some places, teachers threatening punishment act as guardians of a school “operating under pandemic conditions”, pupils report delinquent pupils. It is registered very precisely who is more lax in their individual handling of the regulations. An unpleasant, morally charged atmosphere between adaptation and deviation is spreading. Socially, school communities – teachers and parents alike – reach their limits when there are different opinions on the question of the proportionality of official requirements or – more generally – when the balance between freedom and responsibility stumbles. We live in times in which it is no longer possible to speak openly about what we think without running the risk of polarisation. And children in particular notice this.

What is undisputed is that – with all the leeway that each school has – we currently have to make do with a minimum of Waldorf education.

And now here we come with an issue on the theme of “Music and singing” which might appear to be totally inappropriate at this particular time? Certainly not, because it makes us all the more aware of two things:

Singing and music accompany the life of pupils and teachers from class 1 to class 12. From every corner there is singing in the classes, the sound of piano, violins and trumpets ...

The performances come from the heart, the hall full to bursting is symbolic of the unifying power of a community that makes music and sings. Singing and music are socially essential at Waldorf schools.

If the little or big person expresses themselves with their “voice” through singing or with an instrument, their inner self “speaks”. The key thing is not how good we are but the cultivation and care for the soul space, in that new impressions are received from the world through listening and the expression of our own “voice” sounds out, a constant giving and receiving through which the school breathes. It is the antithesis of communication through the obstacle of a mask which makes us re-inhale our own carbon dioxide. Singing and music are educationally essential at Waldorf schools.

When we sing, we produce greater amounts of aerosols; when we make music together we are at risk of undermining the required obligation to distance – but “making the best of it” cannot mean that we turn into buzzing, humming beetles or make music between separators. Such recommendations touch on the dignity of the human being, the activity and task of education.

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