On January 21st, 2023, Lorelei Batislaong shared with us her unique approach to teaching ukulele in the elementary classroom.
Lorelei’s carefully crafted workshop offered very child-friendly exercises and visuals to teach the ukulele, which can often be tricky instrument to teach young children, as method books can be so focused towards older learners. Teachers experienced the thoughtful scaffolding that is unique to Lorelei, from finger warm-ups to strumming pattern visuals and finger picking patterns. Those in attendance not only had a ton of fun, but were even challenged themselves, as Ms. Batislaong covered ukulele techniques of strumming, chunking, and finger picking through engaging repertoire, which spanned from a Philippines folk song to “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The workshop definitely gave teachers insight on where students might struggle in their learning process and Lorelei was able to offer tips and tricks on how trouble shoot students’ (and our own!) challenges.
Throughout the workshop, Lorelei never neglected the cultural context from which the ukulele and songs we learned emerged. Through a series of videos, she deliberately and tactfully started conversations amongst teachers to consider the implications of colonialism on how we view the songs we teach and the process in which we teach them. As a Filipina-American, Lorelei shared some anecdotes from her own life with her great sense of humour and vulnerability, allowing us into her world and as a result, thoughtfully considering the implications of how we teach the future of the world.
Carl Orff Canada’s first National Virtual Conference “Intersections” was held on Saturday, April 30, 2022, and the Alberta Orff Chapter held an in-person watch party at the U of A in conjunction with the conference. Sessions were scheduled to be broadcast live throughout the day, and over 40 teachers came together to watch sessions together. Everyone enjoyed a great lunch provided by the Chapter and prepared by the Upper Crust Cafe. It was our first in person event since COVID began, and everyone was so excited to gather together in person to make music and enjoy sessions together.
After the watch party, the Alberta Orff Chapter hosted an evening reception at the Muttart Conservatory where teachers had a chance to socialize, have some drinks and appetizers, enjoy music by Keri Lyn Zwicker and guests, and explore the pavilions.
Our chapter also honored one of our lifetime members, Diane Shieron, as she was presented with a Special Certificate from Carl Orff Canada. The certificate was originally supposed to be presented at the Visions 2020 conference, and then with the 2022 conference going virtual, our chapter wanted to make sure we honored Diane in person. Part of the presentation to Diane included the presentation of a song written specially for Diane by Sherryl Sewepagaham.
It was a wonderful evening where we were able to celebrate music, friends and being together!
On Saturday, September 24, we hosted our first in-person workshop in over two years with local Edmonton drum facilitator Lucas Coffey. We started off the day with a community drum circle. It was so great to see teachers, children and community members all drumming together. Lucas shared his 4 elements of improv, games were played, laughs were had, and so much music made.
“Wash it away, next time bro, I’ve got your back” were just a few of Lucas’ reminders that improv is for everyone and mistakes are happy accidents. He spoke about how to engage with students and encourage students while meeting them where they are.
On January 29th, 2022, Dr. Jody Stark shared with us her approach to combining the pedagogies of Orff and Kodály in our music classrooms.
Dr. Stark led teachers through a series of engaging activities for both Div I and Div II that foster exploration and creativity, while also focusing on scaffolding to a deeper understanding of musical elements such as rhythm, meter, form, melody, and harmony. The concepts were all explored through brilliant repertoire from an original arrangement of a Shel Silverstein poem to an adaptation of a short selection form the Orff & Keetman Music for Children volumes, as well as a gorgeous arrangement of a French folk song.
Not only were participants gifted with a wealth of musical activities to explore with our students, but because of Dr. Stark’s wizardry in walking between both Orff and Kodály so seamlessly, we experienced the magic of how both pedagogies work together to enrich one another, offering “the best of both worlds” for our students.
On October 30th, 2021, Dr. Kathy Robinson and Kim Friesen-Wiens presented a fantastic workshop, “Faces, Spaces, and Places,” pushing music educators to challenge our Eurocentric views of music education and to honour the many voices that exist within our classrooms.
Each thoughtfully planned activity Kathy and Kim walked us through encouraged participants to consider the lived experiences of their students, allowing for a deeper connection to our communities, and celebrating the diversity within our schools. The repertoire and literature covered an incredibly wide range of cultures, languages, and religions. Beyond being challenged to push our own boundaries, teachers were grateful to be able to take away a plethora of rich activities and ideas to implement in their own classrooms.
Jamaica Play With Dawn Muir
On January 25, 2020, our local Chapter welcomed Manitoba's own Dawn Muir for a workshop called Jamaica Play. Coming off a deep freeze in Edmonton, we were extremely happy for ideas for our classrooms that took us away to the warm and sunny shores of Jamaica!
Dawn started the workshop with some familiar circle activities with a few new surprises! As the teacher, playing a catchy rhythm on the conga "reinvents" some classic songs such as "Punchinello" and "Bluebird". It was nice to have some ideas on how to use rocks/bean bags, solo movement and partner clapping to accompany songs in circle formation.
Participants were introduced to a song "Chicken and Hawk" which provided the foundation for a series of activities-- amazing! Some of the different ideas that participants tried out were: call and response improvisation, creating word patterns and body percussion, using non pitched percussion, creating a drumming ensemble and adding movement groups.
Dawn also shared some literacy and music connections using the classic book "The Mitten" by Jan Brett. As educators, we understand the importance of cross curricular connections. It was nice having some ideas on how to create movement representing the different animals while choosing a fitting piece of music as a listening activity for students based on the book.
One of the highlights during the day was listening to the participants create beautiful accompaniments to "Water Come A Me Eye" and "Day-o". Dawn shared accompaniments that included recorder, I-V-I and I-IV-V accompaniments and percussion accompaniment on claves, grater, maracas, conga.
Dawn also shared some ideas on how adding dramatization to songs can allow children's creativity to shine. Songs like "Linstead Market", "Tingalayo" and "Anancy and Brother Tiger" can be used to bring together vocal, percussion and movement qualities. A shout out to the brave teachers who demonstrated their own creative actions and dance moves during these activities!
Our thanks go out to Dawn Muir for allowing us all to discover a bit of her world through music and for providing us with a day full of singing, playing and moving... in the Jamaican Way!
On September 28, 2019, the Alberta Orff Chapter welcomed Artie Almeida to present for our members. Many of us were familiar with Artie's Mallet Madness series, but she blew us out of the water with her diverse array of materials for singing, moving and instruments.
Throughout the workshop, participants learned engaging and accessible activities for students in all elementary grades. Some of the amazing ideas Artie showed us where: how to use low cost props (like paper/plastic plates or sports equipment from your phys ed department) to teach listening and beat keeping, using cumulative actions to entice reluctant singers and how to introduce opera to even your youngest students in the most a-meow-zing way! The materials from her workshop were mostly pulled from her resources: "Percussion Parade", "Woods, Metals, Shakers, Skins-Hoop Group Activities" and "Parachutes and Ribbons and Scarves, Oh My!"
It was such a treat for us to learn from Artie! The activities from her workshop were so fun and accessible and we have heard from many teachers that they have tried lots of the activities already with great success.
For more information on Artie Almeida, please check out: http://www.artiealmeida.com
This workshop also hosted a fundraiser for Vision 2020, our National Orff Conference, which will be held in our hometown, Edmonton, AB, this upcoming April. Chapter members helped by purchasing specially selected books to use in the music classroom. Thanks for Tim Paetkau and Lorna Walker who worked on gathering the books and creating lessons to go with them as well as working the sale.
For more information on Vision 2020, please check out: http://www.orffvision2020.ca
Alberta Orff Blog
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