A Day in the Life of Orff Certification: Day 4

Orff Level I – Day 4

Time and time again this week, I keep being reminded of just how engaging and active an elementary music lesson should be.  I know that my students have been sitting and listening to me talk too much this year because they were off-task very frequently which was overwhelming and exhausting.  Although I knew the problem, I didn’t know how to teach in any other way so I just kept doing what I knew how to do.  I am so grateful to be gaining not only engaging songs and activities to do with my students, but also tools to help me teach differently.  This change is going to involve a lot of work on my part, but I think the payoff of improved musicianship and better behavior will be completely worth it.


Roger’s Nuggets of Wisdom

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


“Working memory”– Working memory is what your brain is remembering at any given moment in order to complete a complex process.  In Level I today, our class had to be reminded several times to keep simple concepts – like keeping steady beat – in our working memory.  When given a difficult rhythm, we frequently lost the steady beat because we were focused on getting the rhythm right instead.  When we added body percussion or instruments, the same problem happened because steady beat was, again, shoved out of our working memory.  We must be sure to keep the basics in our working memory at all times in order to ensure a successful performance.  This is what makes music special – it is a cerebral subject that requires many things to be active in your working memory at once; there are no lazy brains when performing music!

“Prosody” – Okay, this is actually a Brian Burnett word, but since Roger used it today, I’ll give both of them credit.  Prosody is the natural rhythm of speech and is very important to consider when turning text into a song or speech piece.  Try to follow the natural inflections that happen in the text when deciding the rhythm instead of trying to mold the text into the rhythm you want.  Think of writing the rhythm as trying out different clothes on the text – you don’t want to force it into some super-tight skinny jeans, but you don’t want it to be drowning in an over-sized t-shirt either.  If the rhythm fits, wear it; if it doesn’t, try on something else until you get it right!

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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