A Day in the Life of Orff Certification: Day 8

Orff Level I – Day 8

I think it’s time to address the “c word”: concerts (get your head out of the gutter!).  For the past two years, preparing for concerts has gone in a very predictable way for me: pick a theme, find songs with CD accompaniments that fit with the theme, and then spend the month or so before the concert learning the songs (unless I happened to sneak some of them into earlier units).  I had fourth grade play recorder with CD accompaniment, did one simple whole-class composition with third grade, and had first graders help re-write the lyrics to “Ants Go Marching”, but other than that my concerts are almost exclusively singing with a CD and doing motions that go with the given lyrics.  This process has worked well for me so far – I think I’ve had some pretty darn adorable concerts so far!

Please indulge me while I delve into an analogy for a moment…Those cutesy songs that were so easy to program are kind of like the Harry Potter books – they are definitely entertaining, but they might not be the most effective for teaching curriculum.  There is a place for novelty songs in a concert, just like there’s a place for the Harry Potter series on my bookshelf, but they shouldn’t be the only thing there!

But Erin, what am I supposed to use for my concerts then?!  Great question!  You use the stuff that you’re already doing in class anyway.  Of course, you may have to beef up the arrangements by adding borduns, ostinati, repeat signs, canons, rondos, composition, and dancing, but all of that is going to fit into your curriculum!  You can still do songs that are more difficult than your students could analyze (who really wants to hear a bunch of do, re, mi songs the whole time first grade sings anyway?), but use them sparingly.  These songs are a great way to get students hearing how music should function, because, if your students are anything like mine, they’re probably not hearing quality music at home.  This kind of concert is going to be a lot of work to prepare, but, when all is said and done, I won’t feel like I’ve lost a month of instructional time to learning all those pre-packaged songs.  As an added bonus, the parents and staff will get to see what all the work that happens in music classroom and hopefully the music program will gain more support!

Roger’s Nuggets of Wisdom

(those small phrases that seem to pretty much sum up Orff Schulwerk)

 “Use your curriculum to put on a good show” – Do you really need me to explain it all again?  Put the music you use in your room on the stage for the parents!


About Erin Clevenger

Erin Clevenger

Erin Clevenger has been teaching K-5 music in University City, Missouri since 2011, has completed Orff Levels I and II, and is active in the St. Louis Orff chapter. Before that Erin had a variety of professional experiences, including substitute teaching for a variety of grade levels and subject areas, teaching general music to fifth and sixth graders, working with teenagers with developmental disabilities, and teaching English at summer camps in Italy. Erin attended Truman State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Voice and Master of Arts in Education.

One Comment

Aaron Gagnon

I’d love to hear more thoughts on this topic from other teachers. I just did my first “orff-style” concert this year but I only included two pieces with mallets. I’m scared to do any more. I’d like to know how orff-schulwerk teachers plan and organize their concerts…What grade levels, how many students, how many songs..? Do you try to include multiple elements…movement, hand drums, singing, playing etc..?? If so, how do you handle set up and transitions?

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