Q 1 – What is the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?
- Creative opportunity
“An opportunity for learners to explore the “bigger picture” of music education; to uncover the different areas of learning that music education supports and the organic nature in which music connects with other artistic disciplines.
An opportunity to uncover creative processes that can nurture the creation of original materials.
An opportunity to acquire a wide range of skills and attributes needed for the field of Teaching Artistry.”
(Taken from interview with Mary Troup, 16th February 2016)
After interviewing Mary Troup, I summarised Mary’s thoughts and our reflective discussion within the three themes noted above. Poignant to these words is my choice to use the word ‘opportunity’. This was a conscious choice as I believe that at the root of the question “what is the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?” is opportunity. I agree whole heartedly with Mary’s observations. I believe that the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making lies in the opportunities that the approach gives to exploration, to discovery, to play and to acquiring new skills and ideas through shared experience and play. I believe that group music making has to be experienced by the learner first hand, before he/she can transfer the processes, dynamics and energies of this work within their own practice. Orff Schulwerk workshops provide Community Music learners with opportunities to experience group muic making in a safe and creative space.
- Retuning to the elemental
The Orff Schulwerk approach allow learners to work with and explore elemental concepts of music. Beginning from the elemental, allows learners to play with building blocks of music; revealing how music grows through melody, rhythm, phrasing and form, imitation, repetition, pattern and sequence, timbre, articulation, dynamics and silence…..
Having opportunity to play independently and through guided musical play, learners experience the processes of group music making. I feel that there is a natural transparency in relation to how the processes of group music making are expressed within the Orff Schulwerk approach.
Opportunity to explore and work with elemental musical concepts to create original music within a group context, with a conscious mindfulness and understanding of the creative processes at play is core, in my opinion, to the intrinsic value of the Orff Schulwerk approach for Community Music students. Not only, from the perspective of enjoyment as learners create music together for themselves, but also, within their role as facilitators, as learners begin to devise and facilitate group music making for other people.
- Multidisciplinary practice and Improvisation
Opportunity to work within multidisciplinary contexts is core, in my opinion, to the intrinsic value of the Orff Schulwerk approach for Community Music students. I witnessed, first hand, how engaged Community Music learners became when working with visual art materials as sources of inspiration for musical improvisations. I believe that working across different artistic disciplines encourages creative thought patterns and the opportunity to work with an idea or concept from a different perspective.
Ways into improvisation is also core, in my opinion, to the intrinsic value of the Orff Schulwerk approach for Community Music students. Improvisation can be daunting, for some learners, if it is not supported properly. By observing Community Music students, during my PG Certificate Research Project, I noticed that when I introduced improvisation through visual stimuli, use of hand gestures and movement, graphic line scores or pieces of visual art (Picasso, Lichtenstein, James) the students responded with fluidity and ease. They also observed a comfortableness with this work in their verbal and written reflections. I believe that this is because the task of improvisation in music is being introduced through a different discipline and so the mind is freer to explore, the parameters of expectation or critical judgement are less rigidly defined and so there is space to be curious and to experiment in music – to improvise.
Q 2 – In what ways is the Orff Schulwerk approach meaningful for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?
I believe that my responses to the question 1 regarding the intrinsic value of the Orff Schulwerk approach also apply to question 2 which relates to the meaningfulness of the approach for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music. However, question 2 has drawn my attention to the direct feedback of learners, whereas, in question 1 I was reflecting on my interpretations and Mary Troup’s observations.
From the Community Music students’ perspective, I have observed through written and verbal feedback the following meaningful aspects of the Orff Schulwerk approach. The following themes are drawn from written feedback in relation to what learners found to be engaging and surprising during workshops.(Reflecting on Reflections PDFs Workshops 1-6).
Orff Schulwerk workshops provided opportunity:
- To work with pitched and un pitched percussion instruments and body percussion
- To explore sound
- To observe the progressive nature of musical structures, form and the layering of musical concepts
- To observe delivery
- To engage in interpretative work
- To observe the volume of materiel that can arise from one idea
- To capture the speed in which musical material can take shape
- To work with improvisation in a variety of ways
- To work with traditional repertoire
- To work with visual art resources
- To experience non-verbal communication
- To realise the ease of comprehending the bigger picture
Q 3 – How can I document Higher Arts Education learners’ experiences of the Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making?
I have learned throughout my PG Certificate in Learning and Teaching that reflective practice is essential and core to all learning and teaching. I have benefited from documenting Higher Arts Education learners’ experiences through written feedback worksheets and of course through verbal discussions, both during and outwith class time.
I believe that I have made a good start in my commitment to documentation of learning but this is something that I need to continue to work with in my continuing professional development. It is tricky as sometimes I feel that there is not enough time. However, I am realising that clarity is key, if I can support learners through asking meaningful and clear questions then I can document learner experiences with more understanding.
Q 4 – How do I support and inspire Higher Arts Education learners, as artists and as teachers, in the areas of: musical play; creativity; multi-disciplinary and collaborative processes; improvisation, free and structured music making?
As I continue to develop my skills and attributes as an artist, creative practitioner, Orff Schulwerk pedagogue, teacher and learner then I develop my capacity to support other learners in their learning journey. As I continue to feel inspired by my work then I have the capacity to inspire other learners. I believe that I can support and inspire learners, not only, through my range of experiences, knowledge and skill, but also, through my humility and openness to change and working creatively. Authenticity, integrity and inclusiveness are attributes that I hope I embody in my current practice and attributes that I hope to carry forward in my development as a teaching artist.