September has arrived and so has a new school year for all working teachers in B.C. I am gearing up, as most of you are, to greet my students again for a new school year. I am steeling myself for the challenges of this coming year and the intense energy that the job of a music teacher entails. There are few positions in the school that need to be so “on” as we do all day.
I hope everyone had a restful summer, but also one of learning and discovery. I had the joy of teaching summer school to some very energetic children and having both the challenge of keeping up with them energetically, and the joy of seeing them through some great learning moments.
I also finished the third course of my Masters of Arts Education program through SFU. It was an embodiment course and it was full of discovery and joy.
Then my daughter and I spent August having fun in Vancouver and in other parts of B.C. camping and playing and only one can in the summer. I spent time with my sister and her children and visited all of my daughter’s grandparents too. It is so nice to have a chunk of time off every summer to play and connect with people in real ways.
So now I feel refreshed and invigorated. I feel joy and I feel grounded in my family and in my body.
I had the opportunity to visit the Orff Levels students at VCC in August as well. It was so great to see so many faces experiencing an Orff course for the first time. The absolute engagement that they showed is what your students feel when they experience an Orff lesson through you. It is so important to get them moving and creating and exploring music in this authentic and embodied way. In my embodiment course, I really felt Carl Orff applauding all of the arts teachers for learning and teaching the way he always preached – through a full body experience! I always know I am doing the right thing with my Orff training. It just feels right.
So look for Orff opportunities coming up during this school year. Our job is draining, but when you go to a workshop, you get a boost of energy from playing music and from connecting with your colleagues who know your job as only another music teacher can. You get practical ideas for lessons and units that you can implement right away. You expand your own learning that you can pass on to your students. And you feel that embodied joy of being and doing music for yourself. An important part of a musician’s life that is often ignored when you are teaching all day. In the Orff workshops, you are the student and you get to create, experience and play. A great way to let go and have fun for a day!
We have a workshop coming right away on September 23rd with James Jackson from Nova Scotia. He is the First Vice President of Carl Orff Canada and Nova Scotia’s Levels Instructor. He just finished studying in Salzburg and is going to share his year’s worth of learning at the Orff Institute with us!
On November 24th, we will run a Children’s Day. This workshop is free for members! Myself, Dawn Haylett and Curtis Matheson will bring a story to life through movement, instruments and voice. We will teach the component parts to real grade 4 and 5 students while our members observe our teaching. Then the children will perform what they learned at the end of the day for their parents. This is a practical workshop to watch the Orff process used with a group of children and to see strategies of classroom management at work in real life.
Pam Hetrick, our local Level One Instructor, and Sarah Wilner from Washington, will open our ears, hearts and minds with their Balinese workshop on January 20th. I am particularily looking forward to their lesson on shadow puppet theatre. Teaching music from other cultures is so important. Our students get stuck in their North American pop music point of view. We are usually their only influence to explore music from other cultures and eras. This is an important part of our job, and Pam and Sarah will show us how to interest our students in another culture’s music with the grace they bring to their teaching every day.
In April the next National Conference is in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The conference is a fabulous way to network with music teachers from all over Canada. It also will have the most amazing workshops and a banquet and celebrations with Orff music teachers. I do hope we get a good turn out of music teachers from B.C. Look into funding through your district to see if you can go. We need to show Canada that we have strong music programs too!
So, in planning your upcoming school year, try not to forget about yourself and your own learning. Your professional development will see you through your career, hopefully in positive ways. Just keep the Orff courses, conferences and workshops in mind. They have been the most useful professional development experiences I have ever experienced, and I know they will be for you as well. Carl Orff will be pleased if we all have our own embodied musical experiences this year as well as providing them for our students!
Also, look for our table at BCMEA in October!
Happy Fall semester!
BC Orff Chapter President