*(The official title of our class, as listed in the OASIS catalog, is “Swing Ensemble for Pitched Percussion.” My abbreviation for us is Swing-En – a good name for these episodes.)
In the fall of 1999, I was hired to teach Orff for Adults. My new employer was not a school district, but OASIS, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “promote successful aging through . . . lifelong learning, healthy living and social engagement.”
There was no syllabus or mission statement or even a guideline – just start doing Orff with mature adults. Recruiting these adults was done by catalog. OASIS publishes three of these per year listing, in each issue, a variety of about 150 lectures, ongoing classes, trips and other activities. Participants choose according to their interests, register and pay an enrollment fee. My class would meet one hour a week for ten sessions. There were no pre-requisites for class membership. Everyone was welcome.
The first thing I did was create goals and objectives. It is embarrassing to share these with you now, as my “cluelessness” will be painfully evident, but here goes:
- echo rhythm patterns performed by the teacher using movement, body percussion, metered speech or instruments
- learn the meaning of the term ostinato and use ostinati as accompaniments (to what!)
- learn the meaning of the term bordun and be able to play borduns in simple, broken and arpeggiated forms
- use correct mallet technique and alternate mallets
- learn to improvise in pentatonic and accompany these tunes
There are five more goals, but enough already! Looking back fourteen years later, it seems impossible that this class could succeed. And after the initial class, I was sure that it would not!