Thursday, July 20, 2017

Teaching with the Orff Approach

From a fellow music teacher:  
I started classroom music teaching at the age of 40. It was only after I attended an Orff workshop that I knew I had found my teaching style. The rhythm of the words, the patterns and connections, the free flowing creativity, the movement, the instruments---all of those elements drew me to Orff. -MS

I am often asked, especially by new teachers, why Orff?
Orff Schulwerk (school work) is named after composer Carl Orff, who, along with his colleague Gunild Keetman, worked with children in post-war Germany. In the 1960's what became known as the "Orff Approach" spread the US and is joyfully embraced by teachers around the globe!
When I first began teaching music, (cough cough 24 years ago!) I was ill prepared to teach elementary age students. I had planned to teach high school choral music and only had one elementary methods class.  During my student teaching experience I feel in LOVE with the wee ones and knew without a doubt that tying shoes, peeling toilet paper from shoe bottoms, and zipping zippers was in my future.
I felt a huge pull towards those beautiful Orff instruments, and bought a couple without really knowing how to use them.
If you were like me, you probably had the (common) misconception that the Orff Approach, was ALL about those beautiful xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels.  Nothing could be further from the truth!!!  Add in speech, singing, playing instruments (including Orff instruments), creative movement, improvisation, creativity, active listening, and hands-on music making and you have a very busy, fun-filled, playful music room full of happy, excited children who are collaboratively music making every day! It's a truly beautiful, magical music making experience!
For a history of how Orff and fellow teacher, Gunild Keetman, developed the methodology we now call the Orff Approach, check out the American Orff Schulwerk Association's page here. There is a fabulous 2 minute video at the top of the page, I've included another one below.


Speak, Sing, Say, Play

Teaching with Orff is similar to teaching children language and it is PLAYFUL!  In music classrooms taught by Orff teachers you will hear children rhythmically speaking, singing, saying rhythms with body percussion and transferring that to unpitched percussion and pitched Orff instruments.  You will see students creating their own music, playing and singing pieces in which they have participated in deciding how or what to play.  You will see students dancing and creating movement to accompany a speech piece or a song.  You will also see and hear elements of Dalcroze and Kodaly.

Imitate, Explore, Improvise, Create

Orff is process based, child-centered music education with imitation, exploration, improvisation and creativity at its core. 
Imitate/Explore
Students are taught using the sequence of IEIC; imitate the teacher, then move on to explore the piece of music. What if we played the A section 2 times?  What if we spoke an ostinato over the rhyme?  What if we played the ostinato on drums?  What if we sing the piece in our heads and only sing the parts that have Mi Re Do?
Improvise
Improvisation begins as students move from exploration into discovering new ways of doing things.  Structure and form are still often provided; play the rhythm of 2, 4, 6, 8 on glockenspiels in C pentatonic.  What is played is up to the performer; the rhythm (structure) is dictated as is the form (play the rhyme in full).
Create
Students in Orff classrooms are often creating; small groups may be creating word chains that will be used as a "B" section in a poem or song. Students may be creating movement or ostinato to accompany songs or dances. I love the creative component and it is one of my favorite elements of Orff Schulwerk.

Don't Just Take My Word For It!

Orff is my passion; we are not called "Orff-Fans" for nothing!  To give you a few more perspectives, I asked fellow Orff teachers about teaching with Orff - here's what they said:


Most children can "Say"..Most Children can "Sing" & "Dance"..All Children learn through "Play"..the best teaching strategies I have ever come across!  -LN

I use the approach to guide my students into independent thinking as they create and note how much they enjoy the process. -KS

Orff allows all children to have musical success at whatever ability level they are personally, all while also having fun! -RW

My favorite thing about the Orff approach is that you start simple, allowing everyone the opportunity to contribute and participate with success. -KD


Have you tried an Orff workshop? I highly encourage you to "give it a go"!  There is a list on the AOSA website, most chapters have between 3 to 6 workshops per year. Go, enjoy, and get ready to change your teaching forever!

Get ready for excitement, get ready for joy, get ready for fun!!


Thursday, July 6, 2017

How to Teach and Not Lose Your Mind


At times teaching music can be particularly overwhelming. Duh, you say. At times you may feel like that poor spud; coming apart at the seams. Oh YES, you say.
Like the beginning of the year when you have hundreds of children's names to learn, or the first concert of the year, or how to deal with all those IEP's or behavior plans.  Or holiday concerts; sacred versus secular, or how about recapturing their attention after the holiday break, or what about that one class that consistently misbehaves? And how to integrate technology in a meaningful way?   Time management, how do you balance it all?  Or how about keeping up with whatever new educational trend your leaders are encouraging/mandating?  Project Based Learning, technology integration, differentiation, relational teaching, integration, Maker Space activities, Assessment Models, Gamification, Flipped Classrooms, Autonomous Learning Model, Brain Based Education, and more! 

Which can lead us to all feeling like this:
 
See the horse on the top, yes, at times that is me.  Although with a bit more of bottom horse's eye roll and neck twist. 
Is your head feeling like an overfilled balloon? Is it going to explode or simply take off on a five year trip to Mars?  Deep breath.  Music teaching (without losing your mind), really filters down to two BIG ideas. PAB and Tightrope walking.  Yup, really.
PAB:  Plan, Anticipate, Be (Prepared).  I'll go over that in just a minute.  Let's get to the one you are scratching your head over first. 
Let me ask you, tightrope walkers, what do they do?  If you answered eat or drink nothing for an hour before a performance you are probably right, but we are not talking about that.  BALANCE!!  Read on...
 

1.  Plan, Anticipate, Be Prepared

Plan

Many successful, happy teachers will tell you it's all in the planning.  Organize and plan your scope and sequence for the year, anticipate the problem areas in the lessons, and be prepared to adjust. I know teachers who have a complete specific plan for the year, but snafus happen with snow days, field trips and those lovely, last-minute assemblies or pep rallies.  Hip hip hooray! 
What skills, concepts, and behaviors will be studied each month?  I have lists of songs along with musical elements and select ones that will work together.  At the beginning of each month, and then each week, I plan more specifically. This allows for adjustments to be made without throwing off (and out) the complete scope and skill sequence for the year.
Plan how you are going to organize your materials and files; everything digitally, a mix of digital and written, files organized by theme, grade level, month, etc.  Sometimes these evolve over time and there is no "One Size Fits All".  Everyone has their own system that works for them and sometimes they need BIG overhauls; plan for what works for your strengths and situation.
Plan to be involved in your school; frequency, length of time, etc. This is a BIG one folks; plan for balance between home and school.  Will you work an extra hour on that program after school in order to avoid bringing it home?  My rule is always "Family First".  My family, and my daughter who is in elementary school, come first before anything else, hard and fast rule and NO apologies about it.  Plan ahead to understand the IEP's or behavioral issues, plan for consequences when students misbehave, plan for the bad days; they will happen.  If your school follows a specific educational model, engages in a behavioral idea, or uses technology 1:1, plan for how YOU are going to use it in the music classroom. 

Anticipate

Anticipate not only the lesson (what might they struggle with) but for the time when your principal walks in with visitors and the superintendent and wants your "elevator speech" (quick 5-7 sentences, 1-2 minutes) about music education. Anticipate that there will be days when a parent might give you a dressing down in the hallway, or send you a nasty email about how you treated their child.  Anticipate that the copier might not be working today, or that the secretary forgot to order post-it notes, or that your paperwork request for _____ got lost.  Breathe, smile, force your face to relax (be mindful of wrinkles, dear), and move ahead.  The world will not end, I promise.

Be Prepared

As you anticipated, you also were probably thinking, "If that happened, I would do _____".  Be prepared to follow through on your plan of action, whatever it may be.  Be prepared when the classroom teacher is 5 minutes late picking up their class. Oh, that never happens?  Lucky you!  Here is a blog post about ideas and activities for just those times.
Be prepared when the classroom teacher drops them off and says, "Have fun singing!".  Instead of knee-jerking to let them know there is more to music than singing and going into a long explanation about Italian dominant 7th chords, say, "Thank you, we are going to be making some fabulous music, can you come back a minute or two before the end so the children can share with you?".
Make sure that your attitude is prepared also; "Choose your 'tude".  You have the power to make it a lousy day, and to crawl home feeling like a worm, or to have a little cry, pick yourself up, slap on some lip gloss, and sing "Let It Go" at fff!   
 
A friend once told me to think of teaching as a marathon:  The good stuff doesn't happen all at once. 
A moral of a race between a rabbit and a turtle:  Slow and steady wins the race.
Sometimes you just need to give it time.
 
 


2.  Balance

When I first started teaching I gave ALL my energy to the students. I quickly found I had no energy left for anything else. I still struggle with this as I really love what I do.  As my sister says, "Everything in moderation including moderation".   That is not to say I don't give my all every day, I do, just as there are moments I have to give 110%,.  But I also have had to learn to pace my energy levels for each class and not to jump/dance/move with the kids for every lesson when there are 6 classes all doing the same thing that day!  Although it is a fabulous workout and gets my workout out of the way, I just end up hot, sweaty, and tired by lunch!
I have taught for 24 years and in that time I have had some major life changes; cancer, 14 surgeries, moving from Maine to North Carolina, marriage, adopting from China, 6 more surgeries, knee issues, presenting at workshops and conferences, publishing my first and second books and now working on third and fourth.  Oh, and blogging.  All of these things were filled with many emotions and all of these were time consuming.  I didn't fall into a black hole in the sense they consumed my whole life, but I was able to have balance through most of these life events.
Teaching music is different from many other educational fields in that our jobs are often 24/7; music is pervasive. Whenever we go to a concert//listen to music/go shopping we are analyzing the music and looking to see if that ____ (book, bowl, ball, etc., fill in the blank) can be used in our classroom.  Most of us perform in an ensemble or as a soloist outside of school, and music is as much a part of our lives as breathing.
A teacher friend once said, "School is school and home is home".  Define in your mind where that line is drawn.  Try to NOT work on school outside of school.  I know... easier said than done. 
When I began this blog it was an extension of teaching music, but it's not school related. I happen to enjoy writing music and sharing lessons and ideas, so while it is music education related, it is not school related and it is something I enjoy greatly! This brings balance to my life.
I also exercise, hike, draw, sew, craft, bake, and ensure that my weekends and summers are not filled with school stuff; I have found I need summers and weekends "OFF".  That means while I enjoy children, I do not teach Sunday school at church or summer camps at my school.  I indulge in binge watching Orphan Black or Odd Mom Out, read books that are not about education, usually Dean Koontz or thrillers, travel, hike, watch movies, and enjoy my family. 
Find other things you enjoy and ways to become involved in those activities; recharge your batteries and leave some energy in reserve at the end of your teaching day so you can find your balance and be
.
Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

End of the Year; Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something TRUE

Yes, I know, the word is supposed to be blue, but for our end of the year purposes, it's going to be "true". 

As I write this, I have 5 days of school left - YAY!  And.. Nay.  I know what you must be thinking; are you crazy? Nuts? Over the edge looney?  No - I look forward to making music with the kiddos and although I am ready for summer break and all that means, I like where my classes are "at" now in their ability, skill level, and knowledge. I also remember well the four to six week re-learning and review process that happens at the beginning of each school year and the constant, "Remember quarter notes? Yes, we learned them last year".

So while I am excited for summer break, it has been several weeks of "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something True."

1. Something Old

Activities/Games/Songs that are Favorites.  Break out the parachute for the Trepak activity that was a hit in December, or the Rattlin' Bog song they loved in March for St. Patty's Day.
Camp Songs - I always sing camp songs at the end of the school year and my students have really come to LOVE these. I have several already on the blog; check the right side tags and you will find "camp songs".  If you are looking for a more "formal" resource. I just put together a HUGE set (19!!) of these with music notation, projectable/printable lyric slides and directions and though I usually offer things for free, this was a MAJOR undertaking, so it is on my TpT store and is on sale here!

Review Games - Candy Land Games I made using donations of Candy Land (ask and ye shall receive!). I have six of these games and the kids love them!
Kaboom- I really need to make new ones but basically it is a cup with 4 beat rhythms written on popsicle sticks inside.  Four of the sticks have "Kaboom" written on them.
Hula Hoop Conducting - Elizabeth of caldwellorganizedchaos blog has a great post about how she uses these and I play in a very similar way.  I love the games you can play with hula hoops and this is a great review of playing unpitched percussion or Orff instruments.  Let the children take turns, too.
 

2.  Something New/Something Borrowed

Recently found a new resource/lesson/activity?  Borrowed a lesson or activity from another teacher (or from a blog.. hint hint)?  Want to test drive it?  Go for it!  Now is the time to see how you need to tweak it and where it might fit best into your year long plans for next year?  Is it a rhythm lesson but you have an idea for how to make it a form lesson - try it now, tweak, and jot down notes on how you need to further develop it.  I keep a file called, "Things I want to try".  It is old school- a manila folder where I print out or jot down ideas, lessons, songs, listening pieces I need to develop further. 
 

3.  Something True

While it is true that this time of year is typically filled with fun activities, be true and authentic; sometimes the songs that were "deep" are the ones they want to sing again. My oldest students have wanted to sing, "Give Light" which I blogged about in December in this post.  The song resonated with them, and while it is not a "fun" song, it honors those with more serious personalities.  My second graders have chosen to sing "This Land is Your Land" as one of their song choices on their last day..  Another more serious song, and not as light-hearted as  "Found a Peanut", but I was true to their choice. 
Hope you have a wonderful end and a great summer- check back, I'll be here! :)
 


 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Around the World - Musical Vacations

This is the final installment of "Musical Vacations" to finish out the school year.
 I just finished an Immigration Celebration unit with my second graders and do another unit on music around the world with my fourth grade students earlier in the school year.  With my second graders, who are oh so wiggly and squiggly, this has been the perfect unit to complete our time together!  I would highly recommend having a globe handy or projecting a world map to show the children where all these songs come from.

1.  Rattlin' Bog - Ireland

My students learn this in March for St. Patrick's Day and they love it.  They choose or create rhythms to play on drums, bodhran style, during the chorus.  Of course we add motions to each of the cumulative verses!
 

2.  Yesh Lanu Tayish - Israel

Another favorite shared by a fellow music teacher who has a heart for songs from other cultures! Thanks, Marilyn!

3.  Cuddly Koala - Australia

This is from my book, "Hands to Hands", available here. This one was sent by a lovely Australian friend, Susan!
 

4.  May There Always Be Sunshine - Russia

I am always amazed at how deeply this touches children, and this version is my favorite English version:

Others and Resources

There are several others we sing (so much music, so little time) including,
"Bow, Wow, Wow" (England), "Mexican Counting Song", "San Serafin del Monte"
 "When I First Came to This Land"., music available from Beth's Notes here.
"This Land is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie, and "America".
 
Beth's Notes site also has a HUGE compilation of songs from around the world including various national anthems.  This is a fantastic resource!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Mountains, Lakes, and Camp Songs - Musical Vacations

 A couple weeks ago I posted about taking your children on a musical vacation before summer begins.  Many of our students do not get to take fun family vacations in the summer, and so a virtual visit to the ocean and a camping trip might be a fun activity for your students.  I haven't met a child yet who did not like to sing silly camp songs and it is the perfect ending to your time together and keeps the kiddos singing right up until the final day of school!! So today we are heading to higher elevations - we are going to the mountains!

1.  I Love the Mountains

My students love this song and I was lucky enough to find a big book of it from Scholastic several years ago, with additional words including famous American landmarks such as Lady Liberty, Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore among others.  I don't think it is available any longer, but this book is available from Amazon:

This is a link to the sheet music from Beth's Notes. 
Here is a link to the song, with instrumental and vocal sound clips. 

2.  Crazy Moose

I am a proud Maineiac, meaning I am originally from Maine, home to the beginning or end of the Appalachian Trail.  Beginning or end depending on when you start and if you through-hike the AT which can take many moons to complete!  I now live in NC, another AT site!  While taking a hike, in bear country, particularly in warmer months, it can be important to make a little noise to let the bears know there are people near by.    Singing songs also helps keep everyone hiking together, especially up those steeper parts of the trail.  "Neat-o repeat-o songs" are great for kids unfamiliar with camp songs and this one is perfect! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Alligator

Yup, this is the "lakes" part of our theme today.  Alligators can be found in marshes, wetlands, rivers, ponds and, you guessed it, lakes!  Another "Neat-o Repeat-O" song, this one is so funny!  To truly understand, you have to watch it: 

Here is the music and the version I learned (slightly different than the video):
Oh- and by the way, my third graders loved to play this on recorder- just make the low A into a high one.

 

4.  The Other Day I Met a Bear

Perfect song for hiking!
 

5.  For other camp songs, check out this previous post!

Hope you enjoyed your mini-vacation!  What other camp songs do you sing with your kiddos?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sing a Song of the Sea

As the end of the school year is in sight, why not take your students on a few "vacations"!  Musical ones, of course! 
First up is the beach.  This shot is from Maine, my home state. Our beaches are more rocky than sandy, but incredibly scenic with lobster boats, rocks, lighthouses and sea roses (pink flowers at bottom left of pic).
 
 
Some of the children we teach may never have experienced a beach before; mix some salt in water and give them a smell or have them dip their fingers in to taste the salt water.  Bring in a variety of sea shells but you will definitely need some ridged ones today; these are called cockles.  Yes, like the song "Cockles and Mussels".  They look like this:
Here are a few song suggestions for your trip:

The Waves

This is a lovely song by Lynn Kleiner from "Songs of the Sea" book.  My kids love to sing this with a stretchy band; up, down, in, out.  On "out" we pull back as faaaaar as we can!  Beautiful song, you will get the idea here, although with preschoolers using scarves.

Aquarium

This is an idea developed by my friend Laurie and I. Buy a bunch of colored Dollar Tree paper plates! Cheap and colorful! Ask your art teacher to have the kiddos cut these into spirals or do this yourself.  Hold the middle part and let the rest of the spiral fall. Use Carnival of the Animals "Aquarium" music. Tell the students you are going to take a trip today under the ocean; share pictures of octopus, coral, whales, jellyfish, etc. Tell them today they are going to be a jellyfish; ask them how jellyfish move; can they move their hand like a jellys? Legs like jellys, head like jellys, bodies like jellys?
Stand, hold the paper jellyfish (aka spirals) and move to the music; no jellys touching each other because they'll sting each other and die (you, the shark, will tap on their shoulders and they'll sit). Parts of the music have lots of descending passages, demonstrate to the class how to move your jellyfish from high to low. 
Usually I have half the class as part of the ocean (under big blue scarves) or seaweed (green scarves or other green props) or coral (orange/pink scarves).  These students stay grounded on the ocean floor and can't move about.  We play about half the piece of music and then switch jobs and begin again. 

Scuba Diver


 

 Mermaid's Song

I recently came across a beautiful quote and wrote a song around it.  Wish I knew who to contribute the words to.  I don't often write in modes but really wanted something mysterious and dorian was it! 
 

Long Legged Sailor

This is from my book, "Hands to Hands, Too". 
 

Going Over the Sea

Younger children will love this one!  It's an oldie but a goodie.  Song starts at :40.
 

Hole in the Bottom of the Sea:


 4.20 UPDATE with links!!
Here is list of other ocean themed songs and a short list of concepts and skills to work on with each:

At the Bottom of the Sea (Amidons) 6/8, movement, names of children
Baby Beluga (Raffi) picture book, movement, phrasing, expressive qualities
Baby Shark (Camp song)  movement, repetitive melody
Blow the Man Down 3/4, dotted half note, low C for recorder
The Boatman Dance MRD (ending), sixteenths
Cape Cod Girls (AKA Heave Away or We Are Bound for Australia patterns in 4/4, pantomime
Charlie Over the Ocean echo, chase game
The Coast of High Barbary call and response, movement, 6/8 fast tempo, British
Cockles and Mussels 3/4, in key of G easy for recorders to play, Irish
Come All Ye Young Sailormen AKA Blow Ye Winds Westerly, 3/4, dotted quarters
Drunken Sailor (change lyrics to “wobbly pirate” or “silly pirate”) minor, eighths, quarters
Going Over the Sea 6/8, repetitive phrasing, rhyming, sequencing #'s, Canadian 
Highland Laddie (Sea Shanty)  
Humuhumunukunukuapupa'a (Music K8) Hawaiian fish, phrasing 
I Saw a Ship a Sailing 6/8
Ickle Ockle Blue Bottle eighth, quarter, SLM
I’se the Bye 6/8, Newfoundland, clapping game in Hands to Hands, Too
Isle Au Haut (Maine island song) lullaby
 La Vibora de la Mar Mexico
Land of the Silver Birch Native American, eighth, quarter, eighth pattern
The Mermaid dotted half note
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean 3/4 time, dotted quarter, phrasing, Scottish
Octopus AKA Slippery Fish (Charlotte Diamond),cumulative, movement
Old Ark's a Moverin' eighth quarter eighth, spiritual, BAG song/MRD
Once there Was a Pirate (The Silly Pirate Song by JackHartman) cumulative, movement, pantomime
Our Gallant Ship MRD ending, eighth sixteenths
Peg Leg the Pirate ti ta ti, passing and guessing game, solo
Phantom Ship by Patricia Lou Harris (Galliump CD)
Sail Away Ladies Sixteenth, eighths
Sailor on the Sea, MRD, recorders can play BAG, game
A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea eighths, sequencing, clapping game
Sea Shell Half notes, Do-Sol, Mi Re Do

Talk Like a Pirate Day (Music K8)
There's a Big Ship Sailing on the Alley-Alley O 6/8, Irish
Three Jolly Fishermen MRD ending
Turn the Glasses Over Double circle game, extended pentatonic; low C/high C

Vamos a la mar SMD, quarters, eighths, rest, Guatemala
 Wishy Washy 6/8, dance, cumulative movement



 
 
 
What are your favorites??

 

 

 
 



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Rabbit Songs Two Ways - Minor and Major



I am going to begin this blog post with a bit of discomfort - one single word; contentious.  While the celebration of Easter is not controversial, for some of my families it is certainly debatable and disputable.  As we sing songs about eggs and use rhythm eggs and other spring music, I do not want my Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish children to look like this as we sing songs about spring that they might interpret as being about Easter:
As a Christian I must put aside my feelings about the meaning of Easter yet still honor the spirit and joy of the holiday. 
I love contrast; light/dark, joy/sadness, minor/major, etc.  In that vein, and needing a few more activities this time of year that celebrate symbols of the season yet are not overtly about "Easter", I wrote a couple songs yesterday. 
The first, Bunny Run, is in minor!  A song about a bunny in minor?  YES!!! This one includes an optional created B Section using Haiku poems. 
The second, Bunny Rabbit (original title, right?) is pentatonic and includes options for the B section using instruments.  Enjoy!!