orff for adults

Orff for Adults: Swing-En III



*(The official title of our class, as listed in the OASIS catalog, is “Swing Ensemble for Pitched Percussion.”  My abbreviation for us is Swing-En – a good name for these episodes.)

 In the fall of 1999, I was hired to teach Orff for Adults.  My new employer was not a school district, but OASIS, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “promote successful aging through . . . lifelong learning, healthy living and social engagement.”

There was no syllabus or mission statement or even a guideline – just start doing Orff with mature adults.  Recruiting these adults was done by catalog.  OASIS publishes three of these per year listing, in each issue, a variety of about 150 lectures, ongoing classes, trips and other activities. Participants choose according to their interests, register and pay an enrollment fee.  My class would meet one hour a week for ten sessions.  There were no pre-requisites for class membership.   Everyone was welcome.

The first thing I did was create goals and objectives.  It is embarrassing to share these with you now, as my “cluelessness” will be painfully evident, but here goes:

  • echo rhythm patterns performed by the teacher using movement, body percussion, metered speech or instruments
  • learn the meaning of the term ostinato and use ostinati as accompaniments (to what!)
  • learn the meaning of the term bordun and be able to play borduns in simple, broken and arpeggiated forms
  • use correct mallet technique and alternate mallets
  • learn to improvise in pentatonic and accompany these tunes

There are five more goals, but enough already!  Looking back fourteen years later, it seems impossible that this class could succeed.  And after the initial class, I was sure that it would not!

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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  1. Mike D on August 12, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I think this program sounds very interesting. I am a first year high school teacher and am looking for Orff repertoire for my upcoming school year. Any suggestions?

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