Berlin, January 2015– The Musikkindergarten Berlin, set up a decade ago at the instigation of Daniel Barenboim, will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in September 2015. In these ten years, more than 250 children, representing approximately 22 nationalities and cultural backgrounds, have benefitted from this initiative. Much of the daily interaction in the kindergarten is structured through music, which fosters communication in this multi-national environment and enables the children to participate and access the world around them. Daniel Barenboim’s guiding principle for the kindergarten is “not music education, but education through music” or “Nicht Musikerziehung, sondern Erziehung durch Musik”. The goal is to give the children broad and integral learning experiences through the means of music. This approach is a portal for learning for all children, including those from more disadvantaged backgrounds.
A contribution of inestimable value to this endeavor has been the continuing voluntary involvement of the musicians of the Staatskapelle with their weekly individual visits to the kindergarten, which stimulate the children to hear and see (observe) differentiated music making.
As with the other publicly supported kindergartens in Berlin, the Musikkindergarten’s work is based on the “Berliner Bildungsplan”. The Berlin Senate stipulates that an external evaluation be made every four years of the quality and effectiveness of the implementation of the “Berliner Bildungsplan” of each kindergarten. In external evaluation carried out in December , the Musikkindergarten received the highest amount of points awarded—an honour and an obligation to maintain this standard.
The team of teachers and the leadership of the Musikkindergarten consider this evaluation to be an incentive to continue doing the best possible work for the children and to work, in addition, on constantly improving the benchmark. Even with our very good teacher-child staffing ratio, we have yet to attain the Scandinavian standard—something we would wish also for children in Germany. We would also wish that music would once again become a standard component in the early education of children. Learning through music in the sensitive early years of children’s’ development enhances their senses and schools their perceptive facilities. No matter what the cultural or ethnic background of a child is, his or her speech development, motor skills, awareness of structures and numbers, social competence and creative abilities are all fostered by music.
The musical training of kindergarten teachers also needs to be promoted in order to equip them to carry out this important social task, and it is equally evident that kindergarten teachers deserve a much higher level of recognition and remuneration for the fundamentally important work they carry out in our society. The foundation laid in the first six years of a child’s life is existentially of enormous consequence. Kindergarten teachers merit recognition and gratitude rather than a mere pat on the shoulder. Society needs to come to an understanding of what this work is worth.
The Musikkindergarten is engaged in these issues. At this interim stage, after 10 years of endeavor, we are looking forward to the next 10 years and to hopefully helping create a broad awareness and consensus of what music can give our children.