Our Guides

Elemental Soul

An Online Music and Movement Retreat
from Teaching With Orff

We are delighted to bring you this online retreat, led by some of our favorite humans. Each of them brings unique perspectives, experiences, and modalities to this project. Together they are collaborating to co-create a unifying and nourishing experience meant to support you in preparation for the coming year. You use music, art & movement every day to nourish your students – let our team guide you on a journey to do the same for yourself.

Drue Bullington

Drue BullingtonDrue Bullington is a bit of a renaissance man. He finds the world a fascinating learning environment in which he often gets lost for hours chasing butterflies into meadows of his imagination, and can find himself falling down and exploring any number of rabbit holes that catch his fancy. Living a playful life is a gift to be explored on a daily basis. Meeting and helping people is one of the true passions of his life. He spends most of his days delightfully creating and experiencing the art of music with his favorite musicians, his students from kindergarten through sixth graders at an elementary school. If you’d visit him there, you’d see him leading songs, dances, playing a ukulele, xylophones of the Orff variety, and sometimes even an accordion while the kids of all ages circle around him in various stages of community music and movement making. 

Outside of his classroom, he’s a volunteer president of a non-profit organization, a teacher educator in summer Orff Schulwerk levels courses and frequent presenter of professional development for the American Orff Schulwerk Association. Among other things he’s an avid cook, and an even more avid consumer of culinary delights. He’s a homebrewer of beer, reader and researcher of endless wonderings and possibilities, a woodworker, an erstwhile workshop tinkerer, biker, hiker, and lover of nature. The opportunity to be with family and friends is one of the great joys of his life which he shares with his wife, Elise, in Lititz, PA. 

Drue’s true passion in the world is in empowering the people around him to grow into their strengths and live the best lives possible. He’s beyond excited about being a part of a retreat that brings together beautiful humans with passions for life and willing to journey forth into the evolving renaissance of our spirits and souls. I’m so ready for this adventure!

K. Michelle Lewis

K Michelle Lewis

K. Michelle Lewis lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her two cats and a Jaguar named Kevin. She can often be seen walking through life with her head in the clouds dreaming up all kinds of eccentric ideas. A lover of life, K. Michelle delights in the miracles that can be accessed through music and movement. By day she teaches K-5 students the magic of music and empowers them to be the designers of their own learning. On nights and weekends, she is the CEO of DrumSmart LLC where she teaches percussion lessons and holds drumming workshops all over the world.

K. Michelle is a life-long learner who is pursuing a PhD in Music Education with a focus on Mindfulness and Drumming. She is passionate about the healing effects that drumming has on the body, mind, and spirit and believes the spirit of the drum has the power to connect humans to their highest self, create communities that are compassionate, and nourish individuals from the inside out.  When she is not drumming, you can find K. Michelle hanging from trees in a hammock like her favorite animal the Sloth, writing a book called, “For This I Am Grateful: My Journey of Healing From Multiple Sclerosis,” or wandering through the forest soaking up love from the earth, wind, animals, and sun.

Michelle Marie

Michelle Marie is a lover, not a fighter. She loves to eat, sleep, and move with passion and commitment, and takes her self-care VERY seriously. She thrives on embracing new adventures and loves telling people that she bought her first motorcycle to celebrate her 50th birthday. Michelle craves meaningful connection with others and is often the first one to name the elephant in the room. With her, no subject matters are off limits as long as the conversation is real. She starts most days in the gym, training her mind and inviting her body to follow. If Michelle says she’s in, she dives straight into the deep end of the pool, for better or worse. Most importantly, when she tells you she loves you, she means it every time.

Michelle is the founder of Teaching With Orff and your biggest fan. She’s the President of MMB Music, which has brought the beloved Studio 49 Orff Instruments to the United States since 1964. Michelle blends her background in music, business, and non-profit administration in her coaching and leadership consulting business, guiding teams and individuals on their journeys to greater empowerment.

Beth Melin Nelson

Beth Melin Nelson lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she relishes city life with abundant lakes and nature. Teaching music and movement to children and adults is the way she pursues her true passion – helping people connect within themselves and with others, to express that which makes us who we are in authentic ways. As a lifelong learner, she strives to be a culturally inclusive educator and advocate for social justice.

Beth is an endless dreamer of possibilities and she finds decision making difficult because there are JUST SO MANY choices! Dancing, gardening, cooking, travel and poetry fill her heart, but time with family, chosen family, and friends is the best.

In addition to teaching and administrating in a K-5 school, she teaches graduate courses and workshops, bringing Orff Schulwerk to teachers in the US and abroad.

Roger Sams

Roger Sams makes his home in a 10th floor apartment in St. Louis that serves as his launch pad as he dances through galaxies of time and space. An intrepid traveler of the internal landscape, Roger uses his training as a Gestalt therapist and his lifetime of pedagogical skills as a music and movement educator to hold sacred space for transformational experiences through the expressiveness and healing power of the arts. He recognizes that pain is a portal to possibility and thrives on making lemonade, when life gives him lemons.

A certified Trance Dance Ritual Facilitator, Roger finds joy in supporting others as they go through the challenging seasons in life and discover the light that resides within. He is madly in love with the island of Bali and plans to spend the rest of his life sharing the spiritual delights of this beautiful island with his friends, once we are all able to start traveling again.

David Thaxton

David Thaxton lives in Reno, Nevada near his natural habitat of the snowy mountains, towering forests and crystal-clear lakes of the Sierra. He is frequently seen sitting in a circle with children from ages 0-99 creating beautiful experiences in music, movement, language and art. His predilection for such matters makes him easily distractible. He is frequently the first kid in camp to notice animals in the clouds and faces in rock formations. He is also the one most likely to be abandoned during a long road trip after exploring all the amazing sounds and rhythms that a plastic straw can produce. He hears music in paint, sees color in sound and poetry in movement. David gets very excited about exploring these experiences with intrepid souls willing to take the journey with him, and is thus delighted at the prospect of being part of this retreat. Also, he is very creeped out about car-carrying semi trailers with vehicles perched precariously and hanging of the edge – those things are just not right.

As an AOSA certified teacher trainer for Levels pedagogy recorder, David teaches Summer Courses for the University of Nevada, Reno and the San Diego Summer Orff Course.  David has presented workshops and clinics at local, state and national levels and presents to Orff chapters throughout the country. David was also recently awarded the “Spotlight Educator Award” for the Winter of 2017 from the American Center for Elemental Music and Movement (ACEMM), and is excited that his new book “Making Tracks: Recorder Explorations, Creations and Improvisations” was recently published through Sweet Pipes.

Judy Thompson-Barthwell

Judy Thompson-Barthwell

Judy Thompson-Barthwell grew up in and still lives in Detroit, Michigan. She is a city girl who enjoys her apartment near city parks and the Detroit River where she explores nature and city spaces.  Judy is a person who loves to move and at any time can be caught moving to whatever inspires her. She loves to help people connect to their inner spirit through movement and music.

A retired music and dance teacher, she continues to work with children and adults. As a lifelong learner, she dwells in the world of possibilities, leaning into the discomfort that sometimes is a part of the path to growth. Reading, playing, dancing, singing, traveling and being with friends and family keep her heart happy.


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