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James Harding

At play with the building blocks of music

I grew up in New York City. My schools were in high-rise buildings and we had recess on the roof! Some of my favorite learning moments were in after-school music lessons in a three-story brownstone, at first happily running around and freezing to music played by my teacher, but before long learning to sing and play the piano and clarinet myself. Although I majored in biology at Yale University, I was drawn back into music through playing in a Balinese gamelan (Indonesian percussion ensemble). Playing by ear, accompanying dance…I fell in love with music all over again! The Bay Area was the place to be for world music study, and I thought I would come out for a year and then go back to start Medical School. A visit to the San Francisco School changed my plans- I saw creative music and movement classes that excited me and I knew I wanted to try my hand at this kind of music teaching. Over 20 years later, I am still excited and challenged by the task of bringing the delight of music to children. I lead workshops for other music teachers in Orff Schuwerk, and I have published a book “From Wibbleton to Wobbleton” a collection of musical lesson ideas with the theme of creative play. 

I share the teaching of general music classes with my colleagues Doug and Sofia, and I direct the San Francisco School band, an elective ensemble.