We’re back at it for another school year! This year is my 10th year teaching and I am so excited for what this year holds. This is my second year at Clark Creek STEM Academy and our second year open! We will be the first school on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education Annual Bus Tour where 140 dignitaries from the community and educational leadership will visit our school. Very exciting times!
The most exciting part of this school year is the addition of a full Orff instrumentarium from Peripole-Bergerault. My PTA and school fundraised our rear-ends off last school year and raised enough dough to get the full set! My dreams are coming true!
It was tough to teach an entire school year with no Orff instruments, as I have taught with them and have been trained in Orff pedagogy since I started teaching. I definitely believe I am a better teacher for last year as it forced me out of my comfort zone and made me really explore new ways of teaching the same concepts and music.
However, now that I have my lovely instruments, we are using them daily, all day long, from the little Kindergarten friends all the way to the Fifth graders. Since I am not sure of the experience level of my students (I only taught a small percentage of my current students at my old school, most of the 900 students were new to me last year), I am spending time working on building a foundation of good mallet technique. I believe if my students are going to be successful with Orff, they need to first start with fundamental techniques. Then the instrumental world will open up to them and we can play anything we want!
My go-to method for building mallet technique is Artie Almeida’s Mallet Madness
. Technique is built through games and activities and explores hands together vs. alternating, counting and rhythm, following a conductor, high vs. low, as well as tons of other book and song related activities. I highly recommend this book and cannot speak of it high enough.
Music For Children: Keetman and Orff vs. Tossi Aaron
I also love the Schulwerk by Karl Orff and Gunild Keetman. These volumes are essential for any music teacher using the Orff instruments. The UK editions (the “yellow books”) come in 5 volumes and are the “true” editions, according to Orff-Schulwerk teachers. However, I am particularly fond of the American edition by Tossi Aaron, which comes in 3 volumes. That may be sacrilege to many Orffians but I find the American editions, suprisingly, to be more appropriate for American children! Imagine that! Either way, read them, teach them, use them!
Last but not least, I would like to share a link to an article the embodies the idea of Orff-Schulwerk, which is taking the ideas of the Schulwerk and adapting them to your classroom setting, situation, and most importantly, the ideas of your students. Remember, the students are the music makers and they are to take ownership of the music to the point that they are creating their own ideas!