09 Mar Denver Waldorf Teacher Spotlight – Mariko Murase
When students at The Denver Waldorf School are asked what they love about their education, they often comment that they treasure their close relationships with teachers. They are full of gratitude to be surrounded by caring, dedicated and inspiring teachers.
Our Teacher Spotlight series highlights a new teacher each month. This month, let’s get to know Mariko Murase.
What grades and subjects do you teach?
I teach Middle School and High School Choir – this is my dream job! It is a joy for me to hear beauty come alive in our collective voices.
What is your educational background?
As an undergraduate, I earned a bachelor’s degree from Nagoya University of Arts in Japan for Performance Piano with a minor in Vocal Performance. Upon moving to the United States, I earned a master’s degree in Performance Piano from the University of Denver.
What were the next stops on your journey prior to coming to The Denver Waldorf School?
Upon graduating from DU, I began working as a piano accompanist with The Denver Waldorf School as well as at Shining Mountain Waldorf School, Tara Performing Arts High School, Rocky Mountain Children’s Choir, The DU Men’s Choir, Graland Country Day School, Kent Denver School and Stanley British Primary School.
How many years have you taught at The Denver Waldorf School?
I joined the Music Department at DWS in 2006 and became the Choir Director in time for the 2019-2020 school year.
What drew you to the Waldorf curriculum?
I love how the Waldorf approach focuses not only on the mind, but also on the heart and hands. Music has a way of engaging our hearts that brings our spirits alive while also connecting us to one another in a beautiful way. I also appreciate that music is an integral part of Waldorf education from the very beginning of a child’s journey. And it’s not just in the music room that you hear music – it’s everywhere! Wander through our hallways and you’ll hear singing, wooden flutes and string instruments adding warmth and culture to our students and our community.
What is your teaching philosophy and approach?
When it comes to teaching music, it is important to me that my students are exposed to a wide variety of genres and musical styles as artistic diversity is essential for creating both an aesthetic and cultural perspective. Additionally, it is important to remember that it takes time and discipline to accomplish something meaningful in class. Put simply, if you want to be good at it, you must work at it. However, it’s just as important to enjoy the experience – we try to have a lot of fun in class together!
The Waldorf philosophy of education focuses on the whole child. What does this mean to you?
This means going beyond academic pursuits and thinking more holistically about a student’s development. That is, inspiring the students’ natural creativity and imagination is essential – not just in music or art, but in all areas of learning. To learn not only how to think critically, but to also feel and act with care, creativity, compassion and enthusiasm.
What makes The Denver Waldorf School unique?
DWS goes above and beyond to create a supportive environment for students and families at every developmental phase of a child’s learning, from nursery school through high school.
This year has been a wonderfully positive experience for me and I feel grateful that I get to spend my days in such a passionate community of students, colleagues and parents.