Paying It Backward
I am a retired elementary school music educator and I taught over 30 years in Michigan public schools. I am now mostly retired. I am a teaching artist for an Aesthetic Education program and I have my own private Orff Music Studio, teaching 2 days a week. I love being able to stay in touch with educators and students while picking and choosing my work load. (I also do some work for a local university among other odd jobs.)
I am still active with my local Orff Chapter—the West Michigan Orff Chapter. As a retiree and past officer, I am able to attend our local workshops for free. (I am also an AOSA member.) I like to stay active with the chapter and keep in touch with current practices, as well as make new friends and keep in touch with previous acquaintances. It keeps me going!
I look back at my career and am so grateful for my mentor teacher when I was hired in at my first real elementary music job. I was trained to be a band director and I wasn’t sure what to do with these little ones. Beverly introduced me to the world of Orff Schulwerk. She introduced me to local chapter members. She encouraged me to attend my first national conference. When she retired she passed on all her materials—including a full instrumentarium she purchased herself when the school district wouldn’t buy them for her. During my time in my district, I became the elementary music team leader. We created an Orff based curriculum and included the instruments in our necessary materials. (I can say that all 8 elementary schools in the district have a full set of barred instruments.) My fellow music educators shared their ideas, songs, successes and those things that didn’t work out so well. Bottom line, the people I collaborated with during my 30+ years (including all those amazing clinicians) have given me so much.
In my (mostly) retirement years I’ve decided I need to pay it backward. I was given so much that helped shape the musical path I followed for over 30 years, I’d like to share that knowledge with others. I’m doing that through our local chapter. I have started a library of resource materials for our chapter members to use as needed. I donate materials I no longer use for a silent auction, as well as hand knitted items. 100% of the money raised goes to the chapter’s scholarship fund for Orff training. And I offer to visit members’ music rooms as either an observer to give suggestions or to demonstrate a process lesson with a class or two.
Our West Michigan Orff Chapter is a small but dedicated group. I hope that I can continue to work with and help this chapter that has done so much for me in the past. I encourage others to support their local Orff Chapters. Be a member, be an officer, recruit new teachers in your area. Music educators are amazing people with so many great ideas—and we like to share them. Join AOSA and attend a national conference. It is so good for the soul to be surrounded by like-minded people. And when you retire, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with your chapter. Your experience is worth sharing.