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.

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

At Home Practice for Perfect Harmony

How can a choir or music group practice together while sheltering at home? Our grades music teacher, Ms. Mallard, used her talent and ingenuity to create these wonderful videos demonstrating a four-part harmony on flute and with voice for 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students, who would usually be practicing their parts together as a part of the spring music curriculum.

“I figured out how to use this app Acapella … I have often wished I could sing more than one vocal part at a time, and now I (virtually) can!” says Ms. Mallard. “I plan to use this app more throughout the spring as a way for the students to continue with their ability to sing and play with multiple parts, and to have an experience of singing in rounds.”

Ms. Mallard explains, “The ‘Siyahamba’ recorder video for 6th grade was posted in the Google Classroom as well as a video where I walk through each of the parts individually. The students also have a copy of the sheet music. We had begun working on this song for recorders in music class and were just starting to broaden into using multiple recorders and parts.”

Listen to Ms. Mallard play all four parts in the video below.

For the 4th and 5th grade, Ms. Mallard recorded the four-part harmony for the song “Bring Me A Little Water Sylvie.”

“They already know this song and the body percussion pattern, so now they can practice singing with all the harmony parts in there,” says Ms. Mallard. I have not yet made individual tracks, as I wanted them first to sing what they could remember and what was already in their bodies. The assignment was also to teach the body rhythm and singing melody to someone in their household.”