Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why Orff?

A recent post on Facebook asked, "Why Orff"?


They were not only asking why people choose or use Orff Schulwerk but also wanted to know why teachers identify as "Orff/Kodaly/Gordon/Dalcroze/Music Learning Theory/Feierabend" specialists.

Part One of this I wrote last year:  Check it out here. 

Find Your Tribe

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” — Jane Howard, Margaret Mead
I think it is basic human psychology to identify with a group of like-minded people.  When you find your "tribe", there is a sense of belonging, kinship, and sense of community.  Add in the language that is specific not only to teaching music, but the language of the approach or methodology and the kinship/community/friendship/ support/connection is powerful as we see not only how our students are impacted, but how we are impacted professionally and personally.  Some of my deepest and most impactful friendships are with other music teachers who live and teach in other states. We might only see each other once a year at the Orff National Conference.  These are my "go to" people; I highly respect them professionally and enjoy their impact not only on music education and the Orff community, but also value their friendship. The first moment I attended an Orff workshop I found "my tribe" and knew these were like minded, creative, artful, and artistic musicians.

 Orff Schulwerk

There are many common misconceptions I often hear -
"It is a methodology".  Nope- it is an active and creative approach to developing musical understandings in every learner through the integration and development of music, movement, speech, and drama.

"It's all about the instruments and I don't have any".  Nope!  At its core, teaching with the Orff Approach is based on the way children learn- through PLAY!  Students imitate, explore, improvise, and create as they grow and develop.  Students use their bodies, voices, and classroom instruments. The "Orff instruments" - pitched percussion instruments (glockenspiels, xylophones, and metallophones) are used to create accompaniments but are "nice, not necessary".

"Orff is focused on folk dancing."  Nope!  The Orff Approach focuses on student centered creativity, speech, singing, improvisation, creative movement and so much more!  I happen to love folk dancing, and it is a part of creative movement.  Folk dancing involves movement, provides opportunities for creative physical responses to music and acts a scaffold on which students can build expressive movement language.

"The focus is not on sight singing."  Right, and Wrong!  There is not a singular focus in Orff Schulwerk.  Elements of the Kodaly and Dalcroze methodologies are also a part of the Orff Schulwerk.  Personally, I think the Kodaly sequence of "prepare, present, practice" approach aligns beautifully with the "imitate, explore, improvise, and create" approach of Orff Schulwerk.   Students become artistic, expressive, and creative musicians who develop their personal musicality and expression. Many of us have come to embrace the quote, "Speak, sing, dance, and play in a tuneful, beatful, artistic way.". I love this!
So, what is Orff?  Here is a 2 minute video that does a great job explaining in a more visual and auditory way!

Want a little more?
Here is a little longer video (7 minutes) that shows a classroom in action.

Workshops vs. Levels Courses

Workshops are a great way to experience Orff, and just like any workshop, clinicians offer a variety of activities and experiences.  The subject areas are diverse.  Many of my workshops focus on hand clapping games, songs, and dances and children's literature, art and music activities.  If you are new to the Schulwerk, try going to at least four different workshops to experience the diversity of subjects and teaching styles.  For a list of chapter workshops that might be near you, check out the AOSA page. AOSA is the American Orff Schulwerk Association.

Levels Courses
Workshops give you a "taste" of the Schulwerk, but your taste buds haven't fully experienced the full array of flavors!  That is what Levels Courses are for!  These are certification courses held for two weeks throughout the summer in every region of the US.  There are 3 Levels, and a post-Level III, which used to be called "Master's Level". I would strongly recommend taking one level per summer and not trying to "double up" as you need time to let things "sink in" and time to apply your new experiences with your students.  Many local chapters also offer scholarships as does AOSA,  Here is a list from 2018.

Have more questions?
Drop me a note below.  Hope this was helpful!

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