creative movement

Why Creative Movement in Music Class?

Why Creative Movement in Music Class?

Last week we shared how to begin using creative movement with your students. This week Judith Thompson-Barthwell shares why including creative movement is an important part of an Orff-Inspired curriculum.

Creativity does not occur in a void!

  • Teach directive lessons to give specific material for exploration
  • Let students experiment with what they know while the teacher facilitates their creativity

Levels of Creativity

  • “Windows of opportunity” – within a teacher directed activity, there are little windows where the teacher offers the students a choice (from two to as many as the class can handle)
  • Guided Exploration – Teacher is the spokesperson offering clear suggestions during an exploratory activity.
  • Improvisation – Students experiment with known concepts. Teacher offers guidance and facilitates as necessary.

What is it good for?

  • Introduction – Through creative movement, introduce a step or figure of a dance in various ways before it is attached to the actual traditional dance.
  • Understanding – Movement is a great way to see if your instruction is actually penetrating toward understanding. Are students regurgitating what you want to hear/see or have they understood the concept and interpreted in their own way?
  • Practice – Creative movement can allow students a chance to practice a skill or concept at their own pace.
  • Ownership – When students have the opportunity to show their own way of understanding a concept, they begin to own and be prideful of their learning.
  • Affirmation – Through creative movement, each child can be good at something. It is a way to acknowledge and affirm individual uniqueness.

Movement is how most children respond to music

  • Plan for meaningful, creative ways of how children can respond to the music in your classroom
  • Creative movement gives children more awareness of the possibilities of their bodies
  • Being more aware of their bodies leads to making movement more musical
  • Learning comes through engaging as many senses as possible. Creative movement should not be ignored as a mode of learning

Movement is how we learn

  • Movement/dance is worthy of attention by itself because it is an important art, just as music.
  • We learn by moving toward what we want.
  • We succeed by creating our own path and moving along it.
  • Creative movement exemplifies the bigger picture of life.

Creative Movement makes aural sound more concrete

  • Beat /Rhythm/Meter
  • Contour of melody
  • Harmonic changes
  • Energy/Force/Quality/Dynamics
  • Form

Creative Movement aligns with National Standards


  • Analyze: Analyze how the content of varied musical works inform the response.
  • Enduring Understanding: Response to music is informed by analyzing content (social, cultural, and historical) and how creators and performers manipulate the elements of music.
  • Essential Question: How does understanding the structure and context of music inform a response?


  • Connect #11: Relate musical ideas and works with varied context to deepen understanding.
  • Enduring Understanding: Understanding connections to varied contexts and daily life enhances musicians’ creating, performing and responding.
  • Essential Question: How do other arts, disciplines, contexts, and daily life inform creating, performing and responding to music?

Judith Thompson-Barthwell

Judith Thompson-Barthwell is a retired music educator of 44 years. She taught general/vocal music, dance, and choir K-12. She has taught in many Orff courses in the U.S., and some in Europe. 2012 Michigan Music Educator of the Year, she has worked on the AOSA Teacher Education Curriculum Ad-Hoc Committee and the Diversity Sub-Committee. She is presently the Director of the Michigan Orff Collage for professional development.

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  1. Sarah Hassler on October 14, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Perfectly written and perfectly spot on!!!! Thank you, Judith!

    • Alyssa Anderson on October 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      I had totally been thinking of you as I read this. 😛

  2. MN music teacher on October 16, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Moving is important for all learners in all subjects!

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