Inspiring Music From Kusi Kawsay

A few months ago, we shared some gorgeous pictures and an update from our sister school, Kusi Kawsay Andean School, an indigenous nonprofit educational project in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Pisac, Peru. Today, we are delighted to share that Kusi Kawsay has released its Pukllay album, a beautiful compilation of student songs for the fertility season of the traditional Andean Calendar.

Kusi Kawsay’s mission is to foster personal and cultural self-esteem based on respect, reciprocity and dignity while providing its students with the skills to navigate both modern and traditional worlds. 100% of proceeds from this benefit album will go to Kusi Kawsay School. Let’s support their important work! Click here to listen to a sample and purchase the album.

You can learn more about Kusi Kawsay and their unique community on their website.

MWS Recommends: Activities at Home

Since our school closed in March, our families have been sharing resources with each other in our weekly newsletter and through word of mouth. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite activities and recommendation for children at home… and please send more if you have them!

“The Great Pause” — A Tale for Young Children
Once upon a time, in a land far away, but not too far away, in a time long ago, but not too long ago, there was a lovely little kingdom of very hard workers. This kingdom was built up of four villages, each ruled by a wise and kind Queen…
Click here to read the rest of the story on the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) website.

You can join the Marin County Free Library online then borrow from their huge selection of e-books and audiobooks at home.

During the closures, the Marin County Free Library has started recording their weekly story times for young children.
Click here to hear more about online story time or to check out the many crafts and activities the library recommends.

Audible is also offering free audiobooks while schools are closed.

Founded by preschool mom Heidi, Blue Dot Kids Press is a small press that publishes stories that connect us to each other and the Earth. Click here to check out their beautiful offerings.

A MWS kindergarten family recommends family-friendly martial arts with Oakland-based Peter Ajemian. He leads daily workouts for adults, and three weekly kids classes on Zoom. More info on Soja’s website.

MWS families recommend Quarantine Clay Club with Petaluma Pottery! Clay kits (for pickup), online tutorials, and more. Click here for more information about their programs.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is sharing free nightly live streams of their operas, which remain available to watch throughout the following day. Click here to watch the most recent performance.

Keeping it local, San Francisco Opera is also offering free streaming of their performances on their website, as well as steams of previous performances.

America’s test Kitchen Kids: Downloadable and printable recipes, as well as food-based activities, like salt painting.

Mapbox created a printable map coloring book to use at home, with instructions on how to download software and create your own color-able map. Click here to download the maps or create your own.

Celebrating Pianist Carolyn Binford

Anyone who has the good fortune of meeting Carolyn Binford knows she is a ray of sunshine: kind, patient, always impeccably dressed, and a beautiful musician who has brought her craft to our choir and eurythmy programs. During her 20 years at Marin Waldorf School, Carolyn has accompanied countless eurythmy classes, provided music at hundreds of class plays and special events, become a reliable member of our faculty salad squad, and helped middle school students perfect their piano playing as an after-school piano teacher.

This year, Ms. Binford is retiring from MWS and we can already feel her absence!

“Her good will and receptivity has made that the intimate work between me as the Eurythmy teacher and her as the musician rich and filled with light for the students. It’s not easy for a pianist to play pieces over and over so the students can practice and learn their parts. Mrs Binford has given her whole heart ever and again selflessly and joyously for the Eurythmy program to grow. I am deeply thankful for her as a colleague and as a friend. May the wind be always at you back, Ms Binford!”

Juan Carlos Lancelloti, Eurythmy Teacher

We asked Ms. Binford to share a little bit about her 20 years at Marin Waldorf School. Read on to hear how she became our school’s pianist, what she knew about eurythmy before she took the job, and what she’ll miss most about MWS.

Tell us a bit about your history at our school. How long have you been at Marin Waldorf School as a pianist and parent?
My daughter Catherine joined the MWS Hollyhocks when she was 6 years old. She is 27 now!  My son Ben (24 years old) joined the Hollyhocks the following year. Catherine moved into the First Grade class with teacher Frances Santaguida. During Catherine’s First Grade year, a pianist was needed to fill in for the Winter Assembly because of a conflict their current pianist had. At the end of that school year of 2000, our Eurythmy teacher, Barbara Newman, asked if I would like the position of Piano Accompanist. I said “Yes!” with trepidation because I was terrible at sight-reading music. I spent most of that summer practicing all of her Eurythmy pieces so that I could “get them down.” Needless to say, my sight reading has improved over these last twenty years with experience and a few tricks learned along the way! Pablo Rodriguez joined the faculty as Choir Director that same year.

Describe your typical week.
In a typical week, I have 15 classes to play for, 14 Eurythmy classes and 1 Choir class. And no, I had never seen a Eurythmy class before I began accompanying the classes that fall!

In addition to the classes, I play for assemblies, class plays and musicals, the faculty Shepherd’s Play (I may know the lines by heart) and May Faire dance rehearsals. A typical day involves arriving early to receive lesson plans from the Eurythmy teacher and play through some of the pieces to help with choreography.

How many Eurythmy teachers have you worked with during your time at MWS?
Through the years, I have had the pleasure of playing for 5 Eurythmy teachers. I have learned to love the collaboration between my music and movement. Through the wooden flooring in the Eurythmy Room, you can not only hear the stepping, skipping, and stomping but you can also feel the vibration. Students can fly by as if they are playing along with me. It is a partnership and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed! Every class, every group of students is unique even after 20 years!

Every class, every group of students is unique even after 20 years!

What will you miss most?
One of the highlights for me has been the musical collaborations with many of the class plays. Rehearsals were during main lessons over several weeks. Being part of these class performances was the icing on the cake! 

Where are you off to now?
Within this new chapter of my life, I’m looking forward to working on more of the classical piano repertoire and continuing to teach piano lessons in the After School Music Program. Beyond that, I’m not exactly sure what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to it!

I will miss being a part of the inside of the Waldorf classroom on a daily basis, hearing beautiful poetry, songs, being part of the choir, watching the students grow, change and meet new challenges. I feel blessed to have been a part of this school in this capacity for so long! 

With love, 
Carolyn Binford

An Update From Our Sister School in Peru

As we shelter at home through the remainder of the school year, our sister school, Kusi Kawsay Andean School, in Pisac, in Peru’s Sacred Valley, is also navigating the challenges of maintaining community and encouraging learning for its students.

We want to share a few beautiful photos from the school and, below, introduce the concept “ayllu,” which the school shared with its extended community in their April 2020 newsletter.

Our Andean culture and traditions are rooted in building and nourishing community. We share food, music, stories and more as a community. During these troubling times, encouraged to practice physical distancing, is very difficult for the needs our hearth and soul. We are guiding our community through these challenging times as best as we can.

Ayllu means community in Runa Simi. Ayllu – Comunidad – Community. This year, we are embracing our Ayllu, near and far, sharing, as we always do, to build towards a future that respects, honors and celebrates life.

As we all practice patience during uncertainty, we are well aware that this crisis is affecting all of us, emotionally, physically, economically. Our Ayllu is working very hard to ensure our students and their families well-being.

We will also be sharing with our supporters, allies, partners and international community, what is happening in Peru and stories, songs, photos and words to carry us into a hopeful tomorrow.

Click here to visit Kusi Kawsay Andean School’s website and learn more about this amazing community of families and teachers.

May Flowers: MWS Celebrates May Faire

Last Friday, we would have gathered to celebrate our traditional May Faire in the shade of Grandmother Oak. It’s a favorite event, one we all look forward to, and since we couldn’t be together, we asked our families to celebrate the spring at home and to share their pictures of their May Faire celebrations with us.

The beauty, kindness, and creativity of our community is always astounding! Thank you to everyone who shared their celebrations with us.

Flower crowns are a tradition at our May Faire, and many children made their own with garden flowers, paper, or felt, while others gather wildflowers or roses.

Some of our sweet families dropped off spring baskets for their neighbors.

Others made maypoles for dancing or for their toy gnomes, including a very inventive maypole made from an outdoor umbrella!

Others gathered wildflowers on their hikes or gifted garden flowers to their neighbors.

Did you celebrate the May Faire at home? Let’s keep our celebration growing! Please share your pictures with us.

Video: Baby Deer in Preschool Play Yard

Yesterday, we shared the story of our newest addition to the Marin Waldorf School family: a mama deer and her two spotted fawns, who are spending their precious first days of life exploring our preschool and kindergarten play yards.

Today, we have a short video of the deer family, shot by alumnus Jack Berkenfield (Class of 2012).

Rest assured, even after their frantic escape, mama and her babies have returned to campus, where they are enjoying the quiet atmosphere and spring flowers.

Spring Blessings: New Family Joins MWS

Throughout the world, there are reports of wild animals roaming freely in what were once crowded urban areas or tourist destinations, from the bears strolling comfortably through Yosemite Valley to pumas in the streets of Santiago, Chile.

At Marin Waldorf School, we are always blessed to be surrounded open space, hawks circling overhead, and even the occasional wildcat sighting. But our campus closure has drawn in some new and beautiful visitors. Just last week, a doe found a quiet corner of the preschool play yard to give birth to twin fawns.

Here, kindergarten teacher Peggy Rock recounts her explosive introduction to the deer family that is now making Marin Waldorf School its home.

Last Sunday, as I was attending our Sunday morning coffee, in the Morning Glory classroom, teacher Nicole came to my door. She said to come out and look. I left the meeting and went outside our classroom to see a beautiful young doe leaping back-and-forth in the preschool play yard. We thought she was trying to get over the fence, as we couldn’t figure out how she got all the way into the play yard with the gate closed. A little fawn was lying nestled immobile against the fence. It looked like it might be brand new.

The mother continued frantically leaping back and forth back and forth. Suddenly she turned and took a great leap at the building and violently broke a window in the Morning Glory classroom with her hooves. It was only then that I realized that she was trying to distract us from her baby, and that we needed to go back into the room so she wouldn’t be so anxious.

When we had backed away, she and the fawn suddenly raced toward the kindergarten play yard.  Later that day I saw her munching leaves on the hillside, gazing through the window at me quietly and peacefully as if nothing had happened to make her frightened.  She hadn’t hurt herself a bit. We continue to see her every day that we are here. Although I have only seen her with one of her babies, I hear that there are two!

It seems our new Marin Waldorf School family is making itself right at home! Enjoy a couple more photos of our dear deer, snapped by kindergarten teacher Adriana.

This Week: May Faire 2020

In the open space around our Lucas Valley campus, the hills are blooming with poppies and buttercups. In our school garden, spring flowers are emerging in brilliant colors. No wonder we choose to celebrate spring at the beginning of May each year!

For our May Faire 2020, we planned to welcome our beloved grandparents to campus to celebrate May Faire as our guests of honor, which would have made the day even more memorable.

While we can’t be together on campus, we can still celebrate spring (and honor our grandparents) as a community. Here’s our plan for May Faire 2020, and, as always, the more MWS families who get involved, the more beautiful it will be.

Create!
MWS families, please take this week to create something at home to celebrate spring: make paper flower garlands, use garden flowers to make a traditional May Faire flower crown, link together a daisy chain, or create a vase full of tissue-paper flowers. Make a collection of beeswax buttercups. Or you might collect wildflowers, scatter wildflower seeds outside, or find a flower in nature and draw it in detail. Use the items you have in your house! Love is the most important ingredient!

If you need some inspiration, we have many tips and tutorials for creating homemade flowers in the post It’s Spring! Flower Projects to Celebrate May Faire.

Spread Joy
Now that you’ve made something at home, let’s share our spring celebration with the people around us. Deliver a paper flower, a bunch of wildflowers, or a note of spring cheer to your neighbors. Or leave a beautiful gift on your mailbox for the mail carrier, at grocery stores, or for anyone else in your community.

Share It Here
Send a photo of your flower creation and your acts of kindness. We’ll create a beautiful collage of images and good cheer right here on Grandmother Oak.

… And we’ll use our images to create a small token to share with our beloved grandparents. Please send them to Julie at grandmotheroak@marinwaldorf.org. (If you’d like to dedicate your flower crown or creation to a grandparent, please let me know!)

Come Together
On Sunday morning, wear your flower crowns, bring your paper flower bouquet, or show up in any other flower trappings to celebrate the May Faire at the Community Coffee on Sunday. We’ll have a special lineup of music that day! Stay tuned for details.