A Day in the Life of Orff Certification: Day 3

Orff Level I – Day 3

When I found out I was going to be blogging about my experience in the Orff Level I class, I asked some of my friends that teach elementary school what questions they had about Orff-Schulwerk.  The question I heard time and time again was:

How much does it cost to start an Orff program?

This was something we discussed some today and have been indirectly learning about over the past several days.  To be honest, I’ve only played an “Orff instrument” maybe two or three times over the past three days.  That does not mean we aren’t using the Orff philosophy, but we are learning how to utilize all sorts of other instruments – voice (speaking and singing), hands (clapping, snapping, patting), feet, rhythm sticks, drums, un-tuned percussion, recorder – to achieve that goal of creation.  I think what it really boils down to with Orff Schulwerk is do what you can with what you have.

I’ll take you step by step through a typical activity we’d do in my Level I class and keep a running total cost of all materials needed.

1)    Teach the students a poem in rhythm ($0.00)

2)    Teach the class a spoken ostinato created by you ($0.00)

3)    Have half the class speak the poem and half the class speak the ostinato ($0.00)

4)    Teach a second spoken ostinato to the class ($0.00)

5)    Have a third of the class speak the poem, a third speak Ostinato 1, a third speak Ostinato 2 ($0.00)

6)    Change the spoken ostinato patterns into body percussion ostinato patterns ($0.00)

7)    Have a third of the class speak the poem, a third play Ostinato 1 with their bodies, a third play Ostinato 2 with their bodies ($0.00)

8)    Teacher claps rhythm patterns (improvise) and students echo ($0.00)

9)    Have a third of the class speak the poem, a third play Ostinato 1 with their bodies, a third play Ostinato 2 with their bodies ($0.00)

10)  Student claps rhythm patterns (improvise) and students echo ($0.00)

11)  Repeat Steps 9 and 10 ad nauseum ($0.00)

I may have not majored in mathematics in college, but I’m fairly confident that the total cost was $0.00.  If you happen to already have some instruments in your room then, by all means, add them in!  You could make a step 7.5 where Ostinato 1 is played with rhythm sticks and Ostinato 2 with hand drums.  You could modify step 8 to have the teacher play a simple pattern on recorder which students echo.  The possibilities are there, you just have to use your brain to find them!


Roger’s Nuggets of Wisdom

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

 “Start the box small and let it grow over time” – When teaching students to improvise, you don’t want to just say “play something” unless you want that deer in headlights look (or even tears in the case of the bitty ones).  Start really easy and slowly then build up to the harder stuff.  For example, you might start by asking students to lead the class in putting the beat in different spots on their bodies.  Then work up to students leading four-beat echo clapping with simple rhythms.  Add instruments or melodic improvisation once students are grasping the basic concepts.  You wouldn’t put a baby on a track and ask him to run a 100 meter race, so don’t expect your students to be able to improvise without some guidance!

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.

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