orff for adults

Orff for Adults: Swing-En I


Today was the second-last rehearsal before the spring program.  It began for me, as it does for countless Orff specialists everywhere, with setting up instruments, distributing mallets, selecting needed non-pitched percussion instruments . . . and a sense of excitement!  Class members arrived.  Conversations reached forte and even became a bit staccato.

Rehearsal began as players reluctantly turned their attention to the business at hand and picked up their mallets to review last week’s lesson.  Yes, we remembered the bass part, even adding the glissandos on the right beat.  The harmony part was more difficult since it required three mallets and manipulating them felt awkward.  After some repetition, things fell into place and we could even play both parts together confidently.  The melody was new to us today and the rhythm was uncertain.  But with practice and the bass players joining in, the melody gelled.  Harmony players couldn’t wait to add their off-beat chords.

I wandered to the back of the ensemble, found an instrument and joined the bass section.  It was so much fun to play along, but was I shirking my duty?  When asked if they needed a leader up front, the group almost shouted their resounding “NO!”  We had previously decided to begin class earlier next week but today’s rehearsal was so successful.  Should we just start at our regular time?  “NO!” was the unanimous answer.

Does this sound like your classroom?  It could be except for the fact that these musicians range in age from 54-86!  Welcome to the world of “The Swing Ensemble for Pitched Percussion,” senior adults who make music together and have fun.  We want to share our story – how we learn to play the Orff instruments we have come to love, what kinds of music we like to play and why we keep enrolling in class year after year.  We welcome your comments and questions.  Stay tuned for news of our concert experience!

Mary Lou Richardson

Mary Lou Richardson taught elemental music and movement, K-6, for thirty-three years. She served as president of St. Louis AOSA, completed level and master Orff classes and presented at both the 1978 and 2012 St. Louis AOSA conferences, as well as in Cincinnati in 2001. In the fall of 1999 she became teacher/facilitator of an Orff class for senior adults, which she continues to this day. The past years have been filled with pits and pratfalls as well as laughter and joyous music-making.

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