I Notice I Wonder I Value

I Notice – I Wonder – I Value

As Executive Director of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, I have spent the past 10 years coordinating the strategic and programmatic activities of the organization. As part of this work, I was encouraged to not only learn about our many programs and activities, but also participate in them and learn from the talented Orff Schulwerk educators passionate about promoting the approach.

In 2016, I began the AOSA Teacher Education Program, becoming a fully certified Orff Schulwerk Educator after completing Level III in 2019. My experience, along with the ever-growing resources AOSA offers, truly makes a difference in who I am and how I do my job. Here’s a nugget from my journey that has taken on so much more meaning in the past year…

During my Level I course I was introduced to the assessment tool: “I notice – I wonder – I value.” At the time, I understood it as a means of evaluating something I had read because that is the context in which I used it in the course. It was one more assessment tool for me to use when I wanted to know what the people I worked with thought, felt, or understood about whatever the topic of the moment was. And I’ve used it this way ever since.

Now, five years later, 2020 and 2021 have brought events I could never anticipate: wildfires in Australia and the United States; a global pandemic; injustice that leads to an awakening in racial and social justice; tornadoes, hurricanes, and snowstorms; political divides at home and abroad; the loss of many influential leaders; a reinvention of space exploration and landing a rover on Mars. History has been made these past 18 months at breakneck speed. The world around us has changed so much, it will never be able to reset to what we remember pre-2020.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, I rediscovered the assessment tool that I learned back in 2016. And the rediscovery brought with it more clarity and understanding of how to use it, not just when analyzing something I’ve read – or a project I’m reviewing – but how to use it when going through the daily work of life. The power of “I notice – I wonder – I value” is much stronger than my first perceptions in Level I. In fact, the power of this way of thinking has helped me find clarity, focus, and even purpose in this new era of hyper-connectivity through a virtual platform with less personal connectivity to each other.

I notice… I spent much of the summer of 2020 noticing so much about music education that I had never observed before. I always knew our music teachers have a significantly higher level of dedication than might be expected from teachers in general. And I recognized that music education has too many challenges for a person to choose it for a career unless they care deeply about this work. I was aware of a lack of resources many music educators have come to accept – and work around – all in the name of love for music and children. What I noticed in 2020, however, was:

  • The depth of the passion and focus of music educators
  • The perseverance and tenacity so many music teachers possessed that kept music alive in the adverse conditions of virtual learning
  • The fight and fortitude of musicians who wouldn’t allow their students to lose the powerful experience that comes with learning music as a core part of their education

I wonder… as I noticed all these things, I began to wonder, what AOSA could do to make this work easier, more attainable, and maybe even more enjoyable as our music teachers reinvented the field of music education while on the job…and without missing a beat. I wondered about the optimal way to present the most valuable content in ways to best serve those who served our students every day. I wondered what gaps AOSA could fill as we moved forward in this uncharted territory.

To that end, I posed these questions to the servant leadership of AOSA and we got to work. Mondays with Music Virtual Learning Events, the reinvention of summer studies in OS including what universities and colleges offered along with the roll out of the AOSA Independent Study Units, an entire Virtual Symposium…these are only a few of the many things that AOSA did to shift how we serve membership in this time of more virtual connection with less community involvement. AOSA continues to come up with new ways to serve and always welcomes input from membership. We are here to serve you as we navigate this together. And that leads me to the final part of this three-part assessment.

I value…

  • The amount of time spent and level of training so many music teachers endeavor to attain so that they can serve their students in the completely new world of virtual learning
  • The way music educators overcome the challenges of not being able to play together, use instruments, or sing in community
  • The high level of connectedness our music teachers created through an uninviting, remarkably un-connected screen
  • Something that I had known, but not acknowledged, for a while: Music educators are awe-inspiring, mind-blowing, truly amazing human beings.

And this acknowledgement goes further because I value the work you do – not just as the executive director of AOSA – but as a friend, as a parent, and as a musician. What you do is not easy work and sometimes it’s not appreciated work. However, I can assure you there are many out here in the trenches of life who truly value what you do. We see the commitment. We see the extra dedication. We see the passion.

If you want to learn more about AOSA – the many resources, networking opportunities, programs, and activities we offer – visit www.aosa.org. For a free two week trial membership, go to https://member.aosa.org/register/free-trial.

My appreciation is unending. Thank you.


Carrie Barnette

Serving as the Executive Director of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association for nearly 10 years, Carrie Barnette honed her non-profit leadership and management skills in various position throughout her 25+ year career. Carrie’s experience includes grant writing and fundraising in the human and social services sector, major gift fundraising in a university setting, and serving in both education and executive roles in the performing arts industry. With an undergraduate degree in Music from Western Kentucky University and a Masters of Arts in Community Arts Management and certification in Non-Profit Management from the University of Illinois-Springfield, Carrie uses her learned skills and experience to meet and exceed the mission of AOSA: demonstrating the value of Orff Schulwerk and promoting its widespread use; supporting the professional development of AOSA members; and inspiring and advocating for the creative potential of all learners.

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