On Saturday October 3rd music teachers from across Northern Alberta (and even two from Calgary, thanks for joining us Liz and Heather!) gathered to learn from the talented Josie Burgess. This workshop was our first at our new location Elizabeth Finch and a big thanks goes out to Sarah Huisman and Karen Abrahamson for helping with everything.
Josie’s background is in both Orff and Kodaly and everyone seemed eager to hear what she had to say about teaching music and specifically developing singing skills.
Josie’s experience in the classroom and with choirs became evident as she guided us through many activities that included singing, moving and playing instruments. Josie’s engaging manner and obvious expertise came through in all that she did and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly, even at times losing themselves within the activities.
Josie initially shared her thoughts on singing and on how best to help children find their singing voice. This led to a discussion on some appropriate repertoire in both division one and division two. After this Josie shared some division one activities and it was obvious that there were many ways to effectively incorporate singing into everyday music activities. From short question and answer singing to the use of puppets were shared. As the day progressed Josie focused on division two and participants were treated to some singing and movement activities that really got the creative juices flowing.
A lot of time was spent experiencing and discussing the use of singing games. Once again ensuring that students were singing as much as possible. Josie highlighted the fact that choosing quality repertoire that allows us to get at specific concepts is imperative and that we choose music that we are passionate about.
It was fantastic as always to have the chapter library, boutique store and St. John’s (thank you to Dave Needham from St. John’s) available throughout the day. Some new items were on display highlighting some of the visual talents of people within the room. There’s always something interesting to find at these displays and the hardest thing can be choosing the perfect items for you.
A highlight of the day was singing Shake the Papaya down in canon then adding movement, also in canon. Using singing and movement in a canon seems to really solidify the concept with both students and teachers. It is always amazing to see the creativity within the room at any Orff workshop and this was no exception. It was clear by the end of the day that excellent singing should be a significant part of any music program and that finding effective ways to integrate singing into all aspects of the program critical to it’s success. It will certainly be much easier to do this with the wealth of activities and ideas that Josie presented.
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