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Take Note


Summer is on the way and so are all of our fantastic Orff Schulwerk courses. Registration is now open for Levels I, II and II, as well as for the Introduction to Orff Course and this summer's master class with Debra Giebelhaus-Maloney, "2, 4, 8, 16... An Orff Circle!" Come one, come all and sign up for the Orff course that's right for you! Please help strengthen our community by letting your friends and colleagues know about our summer offerings. Thank you!


News Highlights

Scholarship Winners!

Congratulations to this year’s Birthe Kulich scholarship recipients! Delia Major, Rebecca Visser and Lucy Chang.

Delia Major is from Vernon B.C. She is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for music and dance. She taught public school before she had her children. Delia says that “she looks forward to learning the Orff Schulwerk way of teaching children about music that engages their mind and body through singing, dancing and playing percussion instruments.”

Rebecca Visser teaches K-1 music at John Knox Elementary s

School in Burnaby. She has been teaching since 1997. She is currently in the Arts Education program at SFU and she “loves music and loves learning.”

Lucy Chang is the music teacher at Gilpin Elementary school in Burnaby. She has a Masters degree in Violin Performance from UBC. Lucy is hoping to “provide students with a better classroom experience in music” by taking the Orff Level One course.

Have a great course in August scholarship winners!

President's Message Spring 2018

2018 is an exciting year for Orff in Canada!  The 25thNational Conference in Niagara Falls was a whirlwind of workshops and opportunities to connect with ‘Orffans’ from across Canada and beyond.  It was inspiring to see what other chapters are doing to keep their members engaged and what other teachers are doing to motivate their students.  I hope that at the next conference in Edmonton we will have many more participants from BC. 

The start to this year was bittersweet as I returned to the my school following maternity leave.  I am thankful to the Orff community for keeping me connected to music education during my year away from teaching.  Involvement in the BC Orff Chapter has allowed me to take the time I need to continue to make connections in the music education community and take time for myself to continue to improve my teaching through planning and attending workshops. I feel lucky to have had this as I reflect on how changes in my personal life will influence my teaching.  

On my return to work, and in talking to music teachers across the country cannot help but thinking about how challenging the last few years have been for teachers in BC.  We have a new curriculum and new reporting systems.  There have been major changes to class composition and sizes in many districts that have led to many of our colleagues being displaced from their dedicated music spaces, myself included.  It is important that music teachers support one another and maintain their connections with each other through these challenging times.  Participation in professional development opportunities is a great way to do this…

We began our calendar year with a workshop from Pam Hetrick and Sarah Willner that opened our hearts and minds to Balinese music and culture.  They presented the material in a way that could easily be used to introduce music from around the world.  This summer will be a busy one for the chapter: in addition to the levels courses in August, the chapter will offer an Intro course facilitated by Cathy Bayley and Debra Geibelhaus-Maloney will be coming from Alberta to teach a week long master-class.  All of these master teachers are past presidents of local chapters and/or Carl Orff Canada.  I encourage you not only to continue to participate in workshops, but to find opportunities to share your Orff expertise with colleagues in your own district and beyond.  

Best wishes to you as you wrap up your school year!  

A Salzburg Sampler Debriefed

After a year in Salzburg, James Jackson came back to teaching with the need to share. Bringing us back as teachers in September to the experience of being a student is always so valuable as we begin the year, and this workshop was just that.


Finding the space for improvisation within the classroom gives back the fun to the students, laying the groundwork for their interest and involvement. Building community and inclusion is so important and giving children in music class a chance to find their place.

One way James took this further was by asking us to reflect regularly in between activities. Reflection has to be taught, giving kids a chance to develop their vocabulary and ability to believe in their creative input. This is especially important in BC where our new curriculum requires us to incorporate this in our teaching.

Working from individual to partner to group work was a conscious choice of James to demonstrate the perspective shift that happens when you change how students have to respond to music activities. The importance of this is echoed in the Orff mantra pointed out by James, “first the voice, then the body and finally the instrument”.

The afternoon took us to the instruments, where we explored some different ways to open up instrumentation to improvisation through the pentatonic scale and easy visuals to simplify student playing. Again, taking a simple poem and letting us develop and play with composition activities. Handing over the arranging of a song to the group provided the proof that we can easily create our student performances from their own creative work.

In James’s year in Salzburg, he noted the focus on teachers as artists with teaching as the medium. With this mindset, we can teach the kids that same approach and allow them to find their artistic expression through improvised interaction, helping them to find their own entry point. Constantly returning to this idea of the seed being simple gives the teacher and students that artistic fuel to boundless creativity.


Orff Level 1 Graduates

Congratulations to all of the graduates of this year's Level I Orff Teacher's Training Courses. It was another memorable summer full of inspiring students. Best wishes to all of you!! Our scholarship recipient for Level One, Julia Walmsley, wrote this fabulous piece about experience with the Orff process this August:

My time in Orff level 1 at Vancouver Community College

Orff Schulwerk has always been important to me. My time in an Orff program during my elementary school years left a positive impact on me that carried forward into middle school, high school and eventually through two university music programs. It wasn’t just the experience of playing music that drew me in, it was the experience of living in the music. I remember exploring music in a way that I didn’t get to in my private lessons on the weekends. I remember using the music as a tool to explore and react to sound. I remember working with my classmates to develop beautiful pieces with the simplest of forms. I remember working hard towards the development of a winter or spring concert and finally the thrill of stepping on the stage and being part of something bigger than just me. I never wanted that to end.

Those music classes inspired something in me, something I work to improve everyday. Now that I am finally able to lead my own students on that path I wanted to have the knowledge of my elementary music teachers, so I could inspire young people as I was inspired so many years ago. Taking the Orff training program just made sense.

We began each morning with warm up games, something to get us in the bright and cheery mood you really must be in to work with young people. Sometimes it was a clapping game, sometimes a hello song from somewhere around the world, sometimes a beautiful round that you weren’t expecting from the simple way it sounded at first. Then we moved to exploring form, or timbre or using poetry and setting it to music. We experienced so many approaches to music that would have never  occurred to me, and yet worked so seamlessly, from words, to rhythm to melody to arrangement. Our movement classes helped us explore our bodies and understand the connection that movement and music has always had. We used ideas from poetry, nature, play and the elements to propel our creativity, and from that we were able to create several outstanding pieces as a group.

We worked on recorder and learned fantastic classroom management techniques. I feel that this was equally as important as all of the material we focused on, considering that a recorder class with children can surely get out of hand without these important management tools. After recorder class we moved to more basic Orff lessons, using techniques we had learned early in the morning to continue the development of beautiful arrangements. I have to pause here and just say how absolutely astounded I was with the musicality of my peers, the way they were able to take the concepts they learned and arrange them into beautiful pieces in such a short time. Not only that, but having to do this with the cooperation of several people at a time and create one cohesive final product, that job truly takes very patient and driven individuals. So a big thank you to all of those wonderful people I got to spend my two weeks with. I would also like to acknowledge the wonderful guest teachers we had for our course, Carrie Taylor speaking about choral directing, Karen Epp on recorder, and Emma, Susie’s assistant.

And on behalf of our class, I want to give a special thank you to Pam Hetrick and Susie Green for their knowledge, guidance and patience, to the BC Orff chapter for supporting the course, Vancouver Community College for offering the course, and to St. John’s Music for providing their beautiful instruments. It was a wonderful learning experience that I will continue to take so much away from. I look forward to continuing my levels in years to come.




First Nations Songs For the Classroom

As we entered the room on this clear, mild January morning we were welcomed into a circle of seats, creating a warm sense of openness and calm. After acknowledging the peoples on whose traditional territories we were on, Sherryl sang us a welcoming song in which we had to face East, then South, then West and North back to East. The power of Sherryl's high-reaching voice and the drum beating like the heart beat of Mother Nature had us all ready and keen to learn songs from the First Nations, embracing what the songs mean to people of the nations that they come from.

In the morning we were introduced to songs of chant, songs of praise, songs with drums, and songs with Orff instruments. The songs consisted of words the Cree, Blackfoot and Dene languages as well as English and French. Sherryl taught us all the songs with superb effectiveness through the oral tradition of echoing, welcoming us to record the songs on our devices to accompany the transcriptions included in the handouts, giving us all the freedom to take the songs away and be able to pass them on through our own teachings. Find a link to the lesson plan for "Music Alive" here.

The afternoon's activities varied wonderfully, keeping us all fully engaged right to the end. A song about water, with ocean drums and people moving with blue scarves to resemble ocean waves, was one of those unique moments in which we were all involved and looked around after with expressions to say "wasn't that beautiful?" Versions of familiar songs such as 'Old MacDonald' incorporating Metis words got us all thinking about how our teachings of First Nations songs can reach out across to Language Arts and other curricula. A song-based stick passing game at the end of the day rounded things off perfectly, making us all feel ready to take what we'd learned today back to our classrooms and provide all our grade levels with joyful musical learning. Find a link to the travelling stick game here.

Many people came today with the key motivation of discovering Aboriginal content that we can use in our classrooms and meet some of the demands of our new provincial curriculum. However, we all came away with way more than just that. Besides being enlightened from delving into Aboriginal perspectives and learning the songs, language and culture of many First Nations, we have furthered our abilities as practicing Orff teachers and discovered ways, as encouraged by our school system, to connect with other subject curricula, but with an Aboriginal Education focus. I cannot wait for it all to be passed onto our students!

Adrian Clift
Music Specialist
Seaforth Elementary - Burnaby

Susie Green - BC Orff Chapter Honorary Life Member

We are very pleased to award Susie Green an Honorary Life Membership to the BC Orff Chapter. Susie has been instrumental to the growth and development of the BC Orff Chapter for decades. An internationally recognized choreographer and master teacher in Dance and Movement Education , Susie has brought immense skill and experience to the Chapter and all of her students. Susie finds unique ways to reach each of her students and reveal the dancer in each of us. Opening worlds of creativity and expression to thousands of Orff members in BC and around the world, Susie is truly a special and gifted and teacher.

Congratulations Susie! We are incredibly grateful to you for your enormous contribution to our Chapter. May you continue to dance with us for a long time to come!

2016 Graduates of Level I and II

Congratulations to all of the graduates of this year's Level I and Level II Orff Teacher's Training Courses. It was another memorable summer full of inspiring students. Best wishes to all of you!!