Here is a review of Living Music From the Heart Volume 1 from Kerri at Seed to Blossom. She says, Hi Jodie, I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know that we had our first penny whistle lesson yesterday and my daughter LOVED LOVED LOVED it! (I did, too!) The lesson fit seamlessly into our grade 1 circle time and my daughter (7 years old) could not get enough. 

Thank you for creating such a detailed, thoughtful, easy to follow curriculum. I enjoy learning along with the videos and feel empowered and excited to bring lessons to my child. 

I am a trained singer, but not a musician (I really don't even read music) and working with your materials has made playing an instrument accessible, fun and practically stress-free.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!I can easily say that penny whistle time (done 4x per week during warm up before main lesson) is Arabella's favorite time of day! I think she'd play the penny whistle all day if she could. 

Thank you again for creating such a complete, easy, fun curriculum! I'll keep you posted on our progress and hope to make you a little video at some point. 

Sending love and gratitude!
I have to say that her work is WONDERFUL!!!  We helped her edit and produce it and it is a great piece of work.  I will be using it for all of our children.  By far the best way I have found to introduce a blowing instrument.  I think the penny whistle is a great little piece - it is important for us to remember that he never actually said it has to be a recorder!  My daughter plays both and the two instruments are easily interchangeable in my opinion.

I think this is great no matter what your child's age but especially helpful for beginners.

Melisa Nielsen
Waldorf Essentials 
My daughter and I absolutely LOVED your Vol 1 music curriculum. Thank you for all the dedicated work that you put in to it! I am looking forward to solidifying our work with Vol 2. What a difference this will make for my daughter's music journey; much better than my own :o) And as a bonus I am learning and understanding music a little more than I ever did in the 20+ years that I spent in lessons and instrumental and vocal groups. What a blessing to have you in our Waldorf homeschooling community!

Joyce from Ohio

I have to rave about Jodie Mesler's Living From the Heart music curriculum. I just finished the first lesson and cannot believe how easy it was for me to play the pentatonic flute!

I have been teaching myself to play with David Darcy's book for about three weeks, but I have been feeling like I might not be able to teach my dd the flute in September. Now I know that I can do it, and Jodie already has the lessons all planned out for me in her book!

Nichole from California
Mother to Eliza (6yo)

The intended age is 7-9 for this program, but I am using it with my 

12 year old who hasn't had much recorder in the past. I think it
would also be wonderful for a mother of very young children to get
this program just to learn for herself. She could sing the songs as
part of daily life, and really incorporate them into the child's
memory, but she'd also have this magic flute! I imagine a mother with
little ones sitting on a blanket in the garden, and the mama plays
lilting songs on the pennywhistle and the children dance around in
the grass. :-)
Lauri from Pennsylvania

Thanks so much Jodie, you have put so much of your time, energy, love for music and passion into this.  Our children do love your curriculum and ask to play the pennywhistle often -  lots of interest and enthusiasm – it suits us well.  I have had no music training so for me, your gift to us is truly a godsend!
Kelly from the UK


Hi Jodie, I received my vol 2 package yesterday. I wanted to say thank
you. This is truly an amazing product. When i received vol 1 last year
it was a breath of fresh air. It brought fun and games and play into
our home and music lessons. This vol 2 carries your wonderful teaching
style and beautifully laid out lesson plans but expands from vol 1
into an amazingly complex and deep curriculum. You have gone above and
beyond with this volume. It can (and will be) used for several years
in our home. This is not a throw away after one year package.

Thanks again,
Rebecca from Indiana


I feel very blessed to have discovered your program. My husband plays some recorder (has a set of lovely wooden ones) but as we're Irish the tinwhistle is close to our hearts. ;)

My dd is in a neo-classical homeschool group called Classical Conversations. It's like having classical grammar presented in a very child-friendly fashion. They have a 6 week block of tinwhistle for part of the fine arts segment but it is short and just doing the typical learning notation and then which hole to cover etc. I am hoping this fall to make a co-op of the other members and do your material. I know the kids will get more out of it, and the moms will be glad to have more usage out of a required instrument (I am sure the other folks' whistles are just sitting waiting to be played but the method was too dry to continue with outside the group time.)
I am glad you're able to see your dreams becoming reality...gives hope to the rest of us!
Cat from California

"It's actually going much better than the recorder. Thank you! I think by late August, early September, I will feel comfortable teaching my girls. My youngest takes mine away and walks around the house just blowing it, hence the order of more penny whistles! Since I've had no musical background at all, I was very worried I wouldn't be able to teach them. How could I make music important if I didn't learn it myself, you know what I mean? I love the DVD, so helpful. Jordan (my youngest) watched a lot of it with me and kept asking about the alligator hold. "Mommy, show me the alligator again!" LOL!"

~Cindie from Texas
-How soon can Jodie get orders out?  I was curious what her turn around time is.
-Go to Jodie, she has everything you need. I'm in the UK ordered Sunday night and had my parcel here next Saturday!

I thought I'd give a little review and tell you what I think about
Jodie's program. The exact title is Living Music From the Heart
Volume 2, and this is the kit I purchased to use with my daughter
Gracie this year.

First of all, I do have to tell you how impressed and pleased I am
with the program. This isn't an infomercial - I have no affiliation
with Jodie whatsoever - but I keep getting even more and more
impressed with the material as time goes on. I don't mean this to be
any kind of formal or professional review - just my informal
experience with the program so far! :-)

I bought the whole kit (dvd, book, and two recorders). My goal was to
go through the lessons myself quickly during the summer, to get
comfortable with the pennywhistle first, then do the daily lessons
with Gracie over the course of this school year. Let me give a brief
overview of the material itself. Included in the kit are two
historical style tin whistles, made from rolled sheet metal with
wooden fipples, a clamshell dvd case with three dvds which can be
used in a dvd player or on the computer, and a paperback 95 page
lesson book. The fipple is the wooden part at the mouth that you blow
through, and the wood rests against your lower lip. The lesson book
begins with eight pages of introduction. I read it through the first
time, before beginning the lessons, but I found coming back to the
intros a few times during the first two lessons to be very helpful.
In the intro portions, Jodie explains the Waldorf approach to music,
the importance of singing, and the format of the daily lessons

So at the end of July, I started taking myself through the lessons. I
wanted to use the Waldorf three-day rhythm. I'm a firm believer in it
and not just for children. I felt like I needed all the advantages I
could get, having tried and dropped the Recorder (using different
booklets) several times over our almost 20 years of homeschooling! I
admit I'm very sanguine, and there have been things here and there
that I just did not make myself persevere with - music is one of
those things. I love the idea of playing an instrument, but lacked
the perseverance, and I always felt a bit badly about that.

I set a kind of schedule for myself with the program. I decided to
watch the video after dinner (eveningish) with the first page of the
lesson open. Let me stop here to explain. Each lesson has two parts.
The first part (one page on the first lesson, but often two pages on
later lessons) is in TEXT. The second part is in musical notation -
you know - lines and notes. So the first part will say LESSON 1 at
the top, and has the step-by-step daily lesson plan with all its
parts (long tones, scale, technique, rhythm, lesson son) AND includes
the fingerings: B, A, G, E, etc. The second part says LESSON 1 at the
top, but contains the musical notation (if that's the right word) for
the lesson - the sheet music. A parent who did not want to learn to
read music could work from the TEXT portion where the songs are
written out with the fingering letter above each word. I hope that
makes sense. :)

So I kept that first part (words/fingerings) open while watching the
video for the first time, and I had a pencil to take notes right on
the lesson pages for myself. I noted things like the metronome speed
(60 beats per minute, etc), and also any hints or tips Jodie
mentioned in the videos such as "fixing my leaky tire". On lesson 1
this is also where I wrote her instructions for the daily format: 1.
Say It, 2. Say & clap, 3. Say, Clap & March, 4. Teacher plays &
sings, 5. Call & response. I wanted to have those steps down on the
lesson page so we would be sure to do ALL the steps in the FULL
lesson each time, and not take short cuts. Because it's the
combination of singing, movement, hearing, and playing which will
make it stick.

The first several lessons have longer video segments (20 minutes or
so) as she gets the adult familiar with the instrument and the
general lesson plan format. So, I played along with the video that
first evening as much as I could, and after the video was over, would
go back and practice a bit more from the lesson pages. Then I'd sleep
on it. The next day (this was summertime) I'd get up and watch the
video again and play along with Jodie. I decided during the first
lesson that I wanted to learn to read music, too, although I knew
that would make the process take a bit longer for me. So on that
second day, I turned to the next set of pages with the musical
notation and would attempt to practice and play for about 20 minutes
from the sheet music.

So, on the third day of each lesson, I would skip the video segment
and go straight to the book and practice for about 15-20 minutes.
Sometimes I did have to fire up the video to re-listen to the folk
song or lesson song. I would continue like this until I felt I really
"got it", and was pleased with the way I could play the songs for
each lesson. I wanted it to be fairly automatic. Then, I'd watch the
next video that night and take notes on the lesson plans as before. I
repeated this multi-day process throughout the book. There were some
lessons which needed almost a whole week of practice before I moved
on to the next lesson, because the songs were a bit more challenging,
but I persevered through them because they were really rewarding.
After a few weeks, I found (to my surprise) that I was not only
reading the music but starting to learn the fingerings for the songs
automatically and feeling - dare I say it? - almost like a musician.
No -- not a musician, but Someone Who Can Play An Instrument.
LOL! :-) I'm up to lesson 18, and had no problem beginning Gracie
with lesson 1 three weeks ago when we began school. Progress (for me)
has slowed down a bit just because of being back to school and a bit
busier, but I am still playing every day.

So my general three-day rhythm (for learning this material MYSELF)
looked like this:
day 1: watch video in evening, take notes on the text page, practice
day 2: re-watch video, playing along
day 3-?: use the musical notation to practice until I was confident
and smooth, then watch the next video that evening. As I said,
sometimes it was 3 days, sometimes it was 8 days of daily practice
before I watched the next video. Hope that makes sense.

This is only how I familiarized myself with the program. Jodie says
over and over that the videos are not for the kids - they are for the

Next I'll share how I'm using this material with my daughter. Even
though I went through each lesson myself in a few days (or more) the
lessons are intended to be used over TWO weeks with the child. So on
Monday morning (during my prep time before the kids get up) I re-
watched the appropriate lesson video. My 20 yo ripped the dvds to my
ipod, so I can unobtrusively re-watch the video before the lesson
where necessary, and the kids don't hear it at all. So I open the
book to the appropriate part - where I already put my notes from
going through it myself - and re-watch the video checking my notes to
refresh my memory. When it's time for the lesson (no ipod or dvd!) I
simply have the book open and off to the side. Just as Jodie has
demonstrated, I go through the lesson step by step, doing each part
of the lesson just as written in the book. This program is not open-
and-go, in that the adult does have to prepare ahead of time and
understand what she's doing (as well as watch the video ahead of time
and learn the songs), but once that is done I can truly just open the
lesson and work from it.

Daily, it takes us about 10-15 minutes to go through the whole lesson
together. Monday and Tuesday of the first week take the longest, as
it's new. By the end of the first week and then in the second week of
the lesson (each lesson goes for TWO weeks) it's second nature. It
really is as easy as that. At the top of each lesson page, Jodie even
tells you what time of year the lesson is intended for, for ex.
"weeks 1 & 2 of April" or "weeks 3 & 4 of October". While it isn't
critical to stick with her schedule, many of the songs are seasonal -
so it makes it really nice to have songs to fit the season. :)

You know, I think what makes this different for me is the parent-
friendliness of the program. The videos are set up so Jodie talks
right to me (the parent). She tells me exactly what to do; first to
learn the pennywhistle myself, then to teach it to my child. I was
pleased at how many things she seemed to anticipate would happen, and
teaches how to handle them. Such as what to do when the whistle clogs
and sounds funny, what to do when I can't quite get the note to sing
the song, places where the child might have a hard time, etc. Jodie
is really sweet and encouraging on the videos, and it was - honestly
- like having a friend visit each day. A few times I emailed
questions to Jodie (who replies personally) and said it was funny,
but I felt like I knew here just because I'd spent so much time with
her over the summer via her videos! LOL! She is VERY encouraging,
very gentle, she takes it very slow - and very normal. Jodie says she
doesn't have a confident singing voice, and that's OK. It's OK to
lack confidence. It's OK to forget the note and need to play it
first. It's OK to go off key - the important thing is the singing
itself. I think I forgot to mention that part! The program isn't just
playing, it's singing as well. It wasn't far into the program that I
realized if I began singing these songs around the house NOW (over
the summer), they would be old friends by the time Gracie began
playing the pennywhistle in the autumn. So, she wouldn't be learning
new songs AND a new instrument. I found (for myself) that "singing"
the song in my head while I played made it easier and seemed to help
me play more musically. Gracie has an excellent singing voice (don't
know where she got it!) and she has no trouble singing out these
songs confidently, but I tried not to let that bother me and just
sang anyway.

The intended age is 7-9 for this program, but I am using it with my
12 year old who hasn't had much recorder in the past. I think it
would also be wonderful for a mother of very young children to get
this program just to learn for herself. She could sing the songs as
part of daily life, and really incorporate them into the child's
memory, but she'd also have this magic flute! I imagine a mother with
little ones sitting on a blanket in the garden, and the mama plays
lilting songs on the pennywhistle and the children dance around in
the grass. :-)

I should probably mention how much I like the music itself. While
many of the songs are based on well-known rhymes and folk songs,
Jodie wrote original music for many of the songs. Because she sings
AND plays on the videos, I didn't have to guess at the rhythm or the
intonation (which has happened to me before when learning to play the
recorder from a book alone). So it appealed to my own ability to
imitate - as it's so much easier to imitate when someone is looking
right at you and playing, as she is on the dvds. I often paused and
repeated to get parts right. Oh - Jodie also tells you how to break
down a song and work on parts before putting it all together. I have
to do that a lot.

Now, as I've been playing for a couple of months now, I've made some
discoveries. When I do a review I try be fair. First of all - my
lungs ACHED for the first few weeks. Wow! I was pleased to realize
that I was building up my lung capacity, which is nice and healthy.
But it's something to realize right off the bat, it's hard work
building up those lungs. Secondly, I found if I played for more than
15 minutes, the sound of the whistle changed and even clearing out
the spit didn't help. The kit contains two whistles (parent & child)
so I'd switch to the second whistle and find the sound was perfect.
So, I believe the wooden-fipple (that's the mouthpiece) gets a bit
warp-y and needs a break after 15 minutes or so. Also, some wooden
fipples can be rough against the lower lip. We very lightly sanded
the surface and applied a very, very light coat of beeswax and found
that it was much better. I'm not sure that's the best thing to do,
but it didn't seem to adversely effect the sound of the whistle in
any way. Also, I've beat the blue blazes out of this lesson book over
the past couple of months - LOL - it's dog-eared, wrinkled, tea-
stained and the central pages are falling out. (LOL! Now you have a
glimpse into the way I abuse books!) I wish I had taken it to the
Copy Shop when I first got it and had them put on a comb or spiral
binding with clear covers. I think it would have longer life for me
that way.

I also began reading up a bit on the Waldorf approach to music. I've
read a lot of Steiner over the years, but very little about music.
When I began reading, I was even more impressed with Jodie's work and
knowledge. There's a great article at the waldorfmusic.org website by
Lebret Shepherd, a waldorf music teacher in Ontario. In it, he talks
about Steiner's lecture on "The Human Being's Experience of Tone".
How Steiner taught that man and music are a *unity* and cannot be
considered separately, because the development of music runs parallel
with the development of man. (We've heard this before in regard to
the Main Lesson curriculum, too. It's a recurring theme.) So, he says
we can't just start singing a song - we have to be aware of the
child's developmental stage. I hadn't thought of this, but of course
it makes sense in the light of the whole of Waldorf education. So
Steiner said before age 9 children "live in the mood of the fifth
interval". (As in five notes. Penta = five as in pentagon.
Pentatonic = five notes.) Only gradually, as the child grows down
into her body can she start hearing notes in the 7th, 9th, etc. AHA!
(I think) Perhaps this is why our attempts at the 9-note recorder
were flops? Mr Shepherd goes on to say that in those places that
were untouched by Greek Thinking (such as Scotland and Ireland the
music of which the Scotch Irish brought to the Appalachians and Nova
Scotia in North America, as well as South America and many places in
Eastern Europe) retain the mood of the fifth. This makes sense. OK!
THIS is why Jodie uses folk songs! They're not just convenient,
they're pedagogically correct. Folk music has always been a
particular favorite of mine, anyway, but this gave me an even greater
and deeper appreciation for it - not just Folk Songs, but the
beautiful folk music of Ireland, Scotland, the Appalachians, and such.

Another thing I noticed is that some of Jodie's original music
doesn't always end the way I think it should. So, I'd be playing a
song and which goes UP at the end (such as Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater
in lesson 5) and I think, "No, no. It should go DOWN at the end." Do
you know what I mean? Well, back to Mr Shepherd's article and I made
a fascinating discovery. Mr Shepherd indicates that developmentally,
children in the lower grades do not end songs tonically (going down)
as we adults like them to be with our adult ears. They end them still
in the mood of the fifth which is... going UP. Shepherd goes on to
indicate that this fact (the going UP) means many existing children's
songs which end tonically should be changed - he goes on to indicate
samples of this phenomena. I picked up my pennywhistle to play along
and see what he means, and - yes - this is just what Jodie has done
in her book. That explains it! There's so much more to Jodie's
program, so much more Waldorf/Steiner, than I had even realized.

Steiner also said that songs should first be sung, and then played.
So, children are playing out of what they have already sung. I think
that a mother who spends a few weeks teaching herself the
pennywhistle, and (like I did) beginning to sing these songs around
the house will find this super easy. The children will already be
signing (and hearing) the songs in the lesson book before he/she ever
begins playing. Because the songs are catchy and pleasant, that's not
at all hard to do. He (Steiner) said the finger movements should
operate on hearing, and when they know the song and can hear it in
their heads, a great part of the work is already done for us.

Steiner also said that young children should use a "blowing
instrument" (not recorder, not wood, just blowing). He also gave one
golden rule which MUST be followed by teachers: loud playing should
be prevented from the very first moment. The pennywhistles Jodie
included in the kit are old-fashioned beginner's tin whistles. One of
the things that makes these pennywhistles unique from other whistles
on the market is the wooden fipple and the "large bore", meaning the
windway is large. The pennywhistle is thick, so it takes a lot of
air. Did I say a lot of air? I meant a looooooooooot of air. :-)
While this was a little bit of an irritation to me when I first began
playing, NOW here I saw the great wisdom in it. These tin whistles
almost can't be overblown or blown too loudly, thereby teaching the
children breath control from the very first day. Brilliant.

Shepherd states that this type of music lesson isn't meant to be
constraining, but meets the child where he is. It lets the child
gently down on a parachute. Isn't that a pretty analogy? It may not
be Suzuki, but it's "gently down on a parachute" - which is much more
my speed. Caroline Von Heydebrand (who worked with Steiner and was
the head teacher in charge of formulating Steiner's indications into
curriculum) says this, "Through the musical lyrical element, we
mollify [mitigate, reduce, soften] the hardening influences of the
intellectual life of concepts and ideas and preserve the freshness of
the life forces." I think in this world where more and more of our
life is cold, hard, plastic and intellectual, bringing any softness
into my children's life forces can only be a good thing.

I found the curriculum to be really complete. Each lesson plan has
warm up, games, scales, rhythm lessons, a musical lesson (such as
tonguing, slurring, etc) and a folk song in the important mood of the
fifth, written pedagogically correct. Pretty much the whole
enchilada. When I first began the lessons I was impressed with how
easy it was with the videos and the clear layout of the lessons and
the step-by-step instructions, but when I began investigating the
pedagogical reasons and Steiner's indications, I was really pleased
that I was also following Steiner's indications without even
realizing it. I really appreciate curricula that gives me that
helping hand toward applying Steiner.

Whew! I meant this to be short, but I wanted to hit as much as I
could. There really is so much to the material, and has a depth that
I didn't realize when buying it just to "learn to play".