Inside SFS

James Harding

Music Teacher
Faculty Trustee

James grew up in New York City where his schools were in high-rise buildings and he had recess on the roof! Some of his 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 his teacher.  Before long, he was learning to sing and play the piano and clarinet himself.

Although he majored in biology at Yale University, he was drawn back into music through playing in a Balinese gamelan (Indonesian percussion ensemble). Playing by ear, accompanying dance… he fell in love with music all over again! The Bay Area was the place to be for world music study, and he thought he would come out for a year and then go back to start medical school. A visit to The San Francisco School changed his plans – he saw creative music and movement classes that excited him and he knew he wanted to try his hand at this kind of music teaching.

More than 20 years later, he is still excited and challenged by the task of bringing the delight of music to children. He leads workshops for other music teachers in Orff Schulwerk, and he has published a book “From Wibbleton to Wobbleton,” a collection of musical lesson ideas with the theme of creative play.  

He is honored to serve on the board of The San Francisco School. His experience teaching as a guest in international schools and his previous experience working at SFUSD’s Clarendon Alternative Elementary School for six years (1993-1998) and also at Marin Country Day School for three (1998-2000) gives him some perspectives on schools outside of SFS. He also finds that his involvement with music teachers throughout the Bay Area through the Orff Association gives him connection to many other schools, and he imagines this might be useful in his role as a trustee.