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.