On Saturday, October 14th, the Alberta Orff Chapter gathered for Playful Possibilities with the incredible Aimee Curtis Pfitzner.
This workshop was a treasure trove of “ready to use” activities that could be implemented the following Monday. The overall message of the workshop was the various possibilities that you could do with each of the activities presented. Participants were encouraged to participate in all aspects of music making, such as playing instruments, singing, moving and creating.
One of the highlight activities was Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli, a literature based lesson using the book by Barbara Jean Hicks. This was really an excellent activity to showcase the various possibilities that could come from one idea. Within this one activity, participants were asked to play instruments, sing, create rhythm patterns and move. It was really a full learning experience.
Throughout the workshop, Amy provided incredible advice on classroom management and inclusion in the classroom. These were excellent tidbits of information to add into our teacher toolkits. Aimee’s personality is extremely inspiring and participants were taken aback by her expertise. Aimee was able to transport us to a magical place where music was so much FUN!
On Wednesday, September 27, Kim Friesen Wiens presented a “Taste of Orff” session titled “WHAT'S ON YOUR PLATE? A NIBBLE, A MUNCH AND SOME DESSERT TOO!”. It was our Chapter’s first “Taste of Orff” session in a few years, and was a popular event for both university students and new and experienced music teachers to get an idea of what Orff is all about.
Kim got everyone up and out of their seats right away with a “Good Morning” ostinato/body percussion/movement activity that everyone could easily go back to their classrooms to teach the next day. Throughout the session, Kim talked about what exactly is Orff Schulwerk, and what it looks like in an elementary music classroom, emphasizing the student centred approach where all students learn together along with creativity, singing, moving, playing instruments. Next up was a fun and fruity activity where participants created 16 beat rhythm patterns using a variety of fruits, and then adding non-pitched instruments, scarves and the beats of the popular song “Dance the Night” by Dua Lipa to make the activity come alive. Kim's passion for incorporating DEI principles into her teaching was presented in the last two activities of the session. Drawing on her experiences teaching and learning in China, participants learned a Mandarin song all about candy. They then added various borduns to accompany the song on the Orff instruments, and expanded the song by creating new sections with a candy rondo. We ended the session with a beautiful song and book by Buffy Sainte-Marie called “Still this Love Goes On”.
Taste of Orff was an amazing session full of enough bites of Orff to keep us all coming back for more!
On Saturday, April 29th, Dallas Arcand Jr. shared with us his passion and expertise in hoop dancing. Dallas led us through the process of creating our own hoops from scratch, using PVC pipe, wooden dowels, and electrical tape. Each participant had the opportunity to make their own, custom-sized personal hoop, finished with their own creative touch using coloured electrical tape. During the first workshop session, teachers learned and experienced the basics of hoop dancing, including spinning forwards and backwards, figure 8, skipping, jumping, putting your body through the hoops, toss and catch, and common sequences of these basics. For the second workshop, Dallas demonstrated the process of shape shifting with 3, 4, and 5 hoops with the help of two volunteers, Laurel Nikolai and Paul Flowers. These two brave souls did a fantastic job of following instructions as they transformed their hoops into different shapes, mesmerizing all those in attendance. After the workshops, Dallas performed an exciting and energetic demonstration, incorporating all of the shape shifting techniques he taught us. There were many smiles and laughs shared during this workshop, as we experienced the sheer joy, challenge, and incredible flow experience of hoop dancing!
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.
Alberta Orff Blog
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