This photograph from 25 years ago was a great way to kick off our Guess Who series, because this photo was a stumper! There were over 27 guesses before someone guessed the correct answer. So without further adieu, I’d like to present Ms. Stasia Verdoljak, String Ensemble Teacher here at City of Lakes Waldorf School.
I had the chance to chat with Stasia about her musical family, the beauty of live performance, and how making music enhances childhood. Read on to learn more about her!
Now at the beginning of her third year at City of Lakes Waldorf School, Ms. Verdoljak says that her first Michaelmas Festival stands out as a wonderful memory. “It was a beautiful day, and the spirit of the school really shone through,” she says. The raucous fiddle and bagpipe music filled the air with excitement, and the procession of children made her smile. “It was something organic about music bringing people together, the kids sensing something joyful going on, and giving them this special memory in their childhood,” she says.
As a musician and teacher, she has a special belief in the power of live music. She described the ephemeral nature of performance- that musician interacting with that environment, that day, that instrument, that place, that piece of music- none of it can be replicated exactly that way again. This creates presence in both listener and performer, because you become aware of the one-time nature of the experience. During her summer classes at the Association for Waldorf Music Education, her teachers and fellow students talked at length about how live music speaks to the soul differently than recorded music.
Ms. Verdolak grew up in Duluth, Minnesota with live music flowing through her home every day. Her mother taught piano lessons in their home, and she and her two brothers were always singing and practicing their instruments. She is a violinist, her middle brother is a cellist and her youngest brother- the rebel- is a saxophone player. Her dad used to play the sax too, but now mostly plays the role of appreciative audience.
Growing up with so much music was a powerful influence in her life, and she feels that it deepened her capacity for certain human emotions. As a teacher, she is still learning how to be herself while effectively giving the students something to take hold of and bring forward themselves. “There’s a reason we’ve met, there is something special about this time, right now, so how can I best meet them? I want to bring that to my teaching wherever I am,” she says.