This year we were happy to award four scholarships. Please read their reflections on their experiences below and be sure to look at the photo gallery of pictures taken at the Sharing Session.
The time is now 2:47am. I realise that I arrived home, put the kids to bed and then I passed out around eight o’clock myself. I haven’t been this exhausted since I was in the training camp as part of Namibia’s national basketball team. Not to worry though, it is the good kind of exhaustion. What makes it good is the fact that I have something to show for all my hard work.
As a thirty-something year old father and family man, I discovered that I could not keep my two best-loved passions apart: “teaching” and “music”. If I had it my way, I would have acted on these ambitions years ago, but Namibia does not have a music teacher position like we do in Canada. So now I am make the best of the time and resources I have in a new country. I made a decision to do a few courses a year in the hope of completing some sort of music and/or teacher related program over the next decade. The slow pace will enable me to maintain a steady income for my family while I pursue my passions. With that intent and background, I stumbled upon Orff Level 1, and I am so glad I did.
I love the fact that I can walk away from the course and implement things right away. I may not be a classroom teacher in the traditional sense, but my workshops and residencies in schools will benefit immensely from this. I have been writing songs for the last fifteen years and this introduced to me a new channel for my creativity. Above all, I felt most at home among the students. I left a country and culture behind years ago, and I haven’t felt so at home as I did these past two weeks among fellow students who I now call friends. I love the broad backgrounds, skills and aspirations of the group. Their friendliness and passion for music education helped me feel right at home since the very first day.
On a personal level, I want to acknowledge Sue Harvie who reminds me of Ena Venter. Ena took this wandering young man under her wing years ago and gave him direction and purpose. Mentors such as these, set the bar extremely high for the next generation of music educators, but also work tirelessly to prepare us for the challenge. We are so fortunate to have these people in our lives.
I do not know exactly what the future holds, but I know I will be back for Level 2. It may or may not be next year. It all depends on how long it will take me to process what I have learnt. So to all the staff and faculty I say thank you for a wonderful time.
Level One Reflection by Leah Schryver
This past summer I had the opportunity to take my Orff Level 1 training at the University of Alberta. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of work load and such but it turned out to be an amazing experience that will only begin enhance my teaching abilities. Sue Harvie the pedagogy instructor was amazing beyond belief. Her energy and positive attitude just made everything so much fun. Even though the assignments were challenging and took a fair bit of work to complete, she was always there to answer any questions and guide you in the right direction. The three other instructors were passionate and extremely knowledgeable and I was able to learn so much from them. Being a beginner recorder player, I found this part of the course to be the toughest for me. But Wendy was able to challenge me and allowed me to play songs way beyond what I thought I was capable of. I really enjoyed the movement section of the course as well. It opened my eyes up to what I can do with my students and was very applicable to the classroom. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of this summer course was the ability to connect with others. I met 20 amazing individuals, all with differing backgrounds. Pre-service teachers, new music teachers (like myself), music teachers who have been in the classroom for 20 years, people opening up their own music studios, etc. It was a joy to learn about each and every one of them. Everyone was open to helping one another and I know that many friendships were made! Overall, this course was wonderful! I am now going back into the classroom at the end of the month with a new wealth of knowledge, wonderful ideas and ways to go about engaging my students and allowing them to create musical masterpieces! I highly recommend taking the Levels Courses and look forward to continuing on this journey next summer! Thank you to the Alberta Orff Chapter for this award!
Level Two Reflection by Charlene Greenwood
Summer 2015. I entered the Orff Level I classroom having no idea what I would encounter over the next ten days. I had heard about Orff, had seen my children demonstrate their skills in their school concerts but I had never had the opportunity to really experience Orff first hand.
The two weeks of Level I were a rollercoaster. At times I found myself overwhelmed by the learning curve but all the while I enjoyed each skill that I learned and benefitted from each challenge and assignment. Each day of the course was a confirmation that I was doing what I loved and I was in the right place. By the end of Level I, I had learned a great deal about myself and teaching elementary music through the Orff approach. I was hooked. I looked forward to taking Level II and implementing and experimenting with all I learned in the classroom.
Summer 2016, I entered the classroom with a good idea of what the next ten days would hold and this time some of the faces in the desks beside me and teaching in front of me were familiar. I had friends, colleagues to join me on the next chapter of my Orff journey. Initially I had been intimidated by the thought of the increased challenges that I would face in Level II but as I came to class each day I found that the new concepts and skills presented were layered upon what I learned the day before and enhanced what I learned in Level I. I learned more through each assignment and at times the most beneficial learning came through learning from my mistakes.
Each morning was filled with Pedagogy and the afternoons were divided between Creative Movement, Recorder and Choral development. The pedagogy was clearly explained and demonstrated and I was provided with opportunities to experience and apply the new Orff material. The instructors, Dr. Robert de Frece, Wendy Rae and Kim Friesen-Wiens, shared their expertise and knowledge, encouraged questions and clearly desired for each student to excel and succeed.
I was stretched out of my musical comfort zone and guided to success in new areas. The days were long but rewarding and mid-way through the second week I found myself feeling a mix of relief and disappointment that the course was almost complete.
Over the two weeks we had many fun and relationship building moments. There are some memories I am reluctant to share do to pride, for example, we were playing through Folk Melody from Java, Arranged: Jos Wuytack and I had been assigned to play the Gong. Being an Orff beginner I had never really played a Gong before, but how hard could it be? The music was soft and beautiful and my measure to enter with the Gong was coming …. and Gooo—ooo—nngg! Oops! I had played harder than expected which resulted in a calm piece being jarred and the instructor’s eyes widening and head slowly turning towards me and him saying, “play a little softer next time”. I can assure you that I did play softer and when we played it as one of our performance pieces at our final concert the piece was beautiful. There was also a moment in a concrete stairwell where a I may or may not have accidentally knocked off a metallophone bar while doing my best to carefully transport the instrument to another room. Oh the ringing! Perhaps I should also mention attempting the Shim Sham Shimmy Routine where I desperately tried to learn the steps but my 5’10” uncoordinated self could not make it look quite right. I tried to hide behind the more accomplished dancers who performed in front of me but being several inches taller it was not possible to hide! These are the moments that will make me a more gracious and understanding teacher. I have made friends and am looking forward to going with some of them to a Swing Dance Club as there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to my dancing skills.
I am grateful for the opportunity to take Orff Level I and II, through the University of Alberta Summer Music Academy, and look forward to taking Level III, albeit with some respectful intimidation. I am confident that taking the Orff levels will make me a better teacher and help me to create a positive learning environment and musical experience for my students. In a day and age where music in the school system is struggling to survive I find the Orff approach inspiring me to persevere and share my passion for music and its importance with others.
As musicians and teachers of music we know that it is not ‘just music’ but so much more. We have the privilege and responsibility to be the keys to unlock the treasure of music in the world around us.
Thank you to the Alberta Orff Chapter for supporting me on my music education journey and I am honoured and appreciative that I was selected as a recipient of the Chapter President’s Award. I will strive to do my best with the Alberta Orff Chapter’s investment.
Level Two Reflection by Katie Cuthiell
Thank you to the Alberta Orff Chapter for choosing me to receive the Chapter President’s Award. From July 18-29 nine music educators from Edmonton, Calgary, Peace River, Fort McMurray, and Egypt sang, played, and moved together to continue our Orff Education.
As the upcoming school year approaches and I’ve had a few weeks to recover from the whirlwind that is level II, I am so excited to use what I have learned in my music classes. We all know how many pieces and activities we learn in a single workshop so when you take an Orff course, you get at least ten workshops worth of new activities and now I am faced with the task of placing each activity at an appropriate time in my year plan.
One of the pieces we learned, ‘A Folk Melody from Java’ (arranged by Jos Wuytack) is one has really stuck with me as a meaningful piece when engaging students in world music. The melody uses the hemitonic pentatonic scale which has which has two semitones and is commonly used in the folk music of countries in Southeast Asia. We played metallophones with hard mallets to create the effect of the gamelan orchestra and accompanied the piece with traditional movement. A piece like this offers differentiation and student choice as it provides a range of difficulty in parts and different timbres.
Another piece that has made it’s way into my Christmas concert plan is ‘Canon’ by Henry Purcell. The Canon is used in different tv programs, commercials, and popular music. With many classical pieces, students recognize the melody, but do know the composer. Bob’s arrangement of Henry Purcell’s canon meets of the objective of playing a melodic sequence and is beautiful concert piece that will engage your audience. Bob mentioned that another music teacher had accompanied the piece with a ‘snowflake’ dance.
In my choral program I have used partner songs and canons in the past; during choral hour I was given a piece that uses ostinato! George Myslels, ‘Buy Me Chocolate,’ arranged by Hawley Ades tells a story with four children that each have their own cry and a disgruntled, ‘mama.’ ‘Mama buy me some lemonade,’ was my ostinato that keeps going through my head.
Whether it was the ‘Shim-Sham-Shimy’ with Kim Friesen Wiens or Wendy Rae’s arrangement of the Cup song, Orff Level II opened my eyes to the different directions I could take the music program at my school. I am equipped with the skills to write my own arrangements for pieces that I find that will engage my specific group of students. Thank you to the Alberta Orff Chapter for supporting the Alberta Music Academy with providing scholarships, hosting the reception for levels, and providing professional development for music throughout the year.