About Me


I am a certified Orff-Schulwerk elementary music teacher, teaching in an urban school. I switched from secondary to elementary music teaching in 2006 and it's been the best move (not financially! ) of my career. If you want to have major impact on students concerning music education, elementary is where it is happening. Disclaimer: The topics in my blog do not necessarily reflect what is happening in my current teaching position or with my current students, administration etc. I have a long teaching history and may chose to deal with an element or problem that I have witnessed or experienced in a previous school or have seen being dealt with by other teachers I have encountered...so there!

Browsing Archive: February, 2012

It's Not on the Test!

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Friday, February 24, 2012,
I'm not really a boat rocker. I can be a bit annoying, however. I don't know the history, but some while back, my district thought that giving our 3rd and 4th graders a music assessment test was and idea who's time had come. I'm not arguing that point in this post. I am saying that the current test is not a measure of whether or not my students are learning music, nor a gauge of what kind of job I'm doing in elementary music. I frankly, don't have a clue as to what it is designed to do except...
Continue reading ...
 

What's in a Name? Apparently, Quite a Lot!

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Tuesday, February 14, 2012,
I'm taking a short hiatus from square dancing in my second grade classes.They have already mastered squaring the set, circle right/left, dosido, partner swing, promenade, right and left grande, and more. Some parents from non-American cultures get distressed at the word dance, so what we're really doing here is-moving rhythmically in organized patterns, keeping a steady beat while listening to the directions from a caller chanting or singing over a traditional rural folk tune, that may have h...
Continue reading ...
 

My New First Page and Blog Explanation

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,
I've noticed that most of the other music education sites I visit are basically blogs. I intended my site to be more website like by having some static content that is useful at anytime. I still plan to keep it that way, but I'm joining the crowd a bit by moving my blog to the first page. In doing so, I had to copy my old posts, hence most of the posts that seemingly were done in February of 2012 were actually made before then. I've posted the originally blog post dates in the posts, for thos...
Continue reading ...
 

Rubrics and Evaluation Ideas for Orff Teachers

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, January 8, 2012

This blog is short and sweet, really sweet!  As I told my Twitter followers, you will want to kiss my feet in gratitude after checking this out! ha. The folks who put these evaluation rubric ideas together are the ones who really get what Orff Approach teachers actually do in the classroom. You won't find much evaluation of music literacy, symbols, lines/spaces, etc. You will find things like creativity, movement, playing...


Continue reading ...
 

A Thoughtless Question

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This was the tweet that initiated this post: 

musically8 Allison Friedman:  Prof. just asked me: How can music be related to the Science, Tech., Engineering, Math (STEM) focus our country has? any ideas

 Before answering such a question I have to ask, what is the Prof really asking? Is he so uneducated not to know the relationship of Music, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics? How can even the dimmest bulb wearing the moniker, Professor, ...


Continue reading ...
 

Help for Non-Skippers

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by the Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, September 12, 2011

Here is a suggestion for helping students who have problems with skipping. This comes from one of the elementary PE teachers at my school.:

We teach them step, hop then alternate/the leg that is up will take the next step and the other foot will do the little bitty ant hop, step, hop. We do it in slow motion then try to do it at normal speed if they are getting it. It is a developmental stage with opposition, so it is...


Continue reading ...
 

What Should Your "Real" Lesson Plan Look Like?

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, August 8, 2011

Got lesson plans? Of course you have them. Do you actually have daily, detailed and specific plans for every grade level, every class? I doubt it. I'm a believer that daily lesson plans should be for teachers and not for administrators or even subs. Some administrators, not mine, insist that lesson plans be so detailed that a visiting teacher could walk in and teach your class by following your written plans. This is insan...


Continue reading ...
 

More #Orff Tweeters, Please!

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Saturday, July 23, 2011

I've written previously about building your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) using Twitter. The news is getting out. It is a valuable resource for elementary music teachers and music teachers in general. Unfortunately, the word hasn't seemed to have spread across the land of Orff-Schulwerk . So far I've discovered only about ten folks who Tweet anything related to Orff process, instruments, lesson plans, books, use of ...


Continue reading ...
 

Here's a Cool Online Recording Program

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,
Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Thursday, July 14, 2011

The recording software online is getting better and better with things like soundation.com and Soundcloud. Here is a real awesome site that is sort of an extreme Band-in-a-box program, but is online and free. It's at ujam.com 
I think your students will go crazy over this thing. 
What you do is sing or play a melody with a metronome click track and when you are finished, the program generates a chord structure for you mel...


Continue reading ...
 

Don't Forget to Use "The Volumes"

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Music for Children Volumes contain lots of pieces that could only be played successfully by a select ensemble. Many of the pieces were written for older children and young adults. The Volumes aren't intended to be used as a sequential methods books, but many of the pieces can be used as written, even in a classroom. Remember also that it is ok to modify these arrangements for your particular situation to fit the age, s...


Continue reading ...
 

What is the Most Important Thing to Teach in Elementary Music?

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First, an analogy: Mother and Child

I think the progression is to have the baby first experience and develop a relationship with “mother”. After the baby has heard the word mama, in context (not the goal, but close), and tries it out, It doesn’t quite come out as mother, or even as mama, but mumu is a good start. The mistake would be to drop the relationship and concentrate on getting the baby to pronounce the word...


Continue reading ...
 

Are You a Trained "Orff" Teacher or Did You Just Take the Classes?

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, June 6, 2011

It's summer time! Time for many of you to take more training in your profession. I have taken Orff Level classes for the last three summers and am "taking off" this summer. I'm actually going to be busy writing arrangements and lesson plans. I'll be brushing up on my djembe technique via YouTube lessons and completing a couple of podcasts. Back to the subject...
I hope that as you take the Orff Levels you are beginning to cr...


Continue reading ...
 

Twitter Folks-Please use #Orff in your Orff Related Posts

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It is really tough weeding through all the irrelevant and even offensive posts when conducting a Twitter search using Orff for the search term. I just want to find tweets concerned with how others are using the Orff Approach in the classroom. I'm looking for Orff based lessons, books, musical instruments etc. Instead I find 500 comments on Orff's "O Fortuna", which is fabulous (but I've heard it, already!) The worst is find...


Continue reading ...
 

I Know I'm Teaching It-Why Aren't They Getting It?

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, April 10, 2011

You've recently attended a great Orff workshop. The presenter methodically guided you through the lessons and gave you detailed notes and exact procedures. You get back home and are excited to share the lesson with your students. You begin the lesson just like you witnessed it, but sometime before step 3, you get this sick feeling that you've lost them. Something's not right. You taught them exactly like your workshop pres...


Continue reading ...
 

Twitter is Not Just for Announcing What You Ate for Lunch

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, March 6, 2011

When I first discovered Twitter, it seemed to be a worthless application for telling the world that you just ate a ham sandwich for lunch. I abandoned it for a year or so until one day I decided to do a search to see if there were people talking about things that I was interested in. There definitely were! I checked out these folks, and if on their Twitter page, there was more chat about that interest than lunch, I added th...


Continue reading ...
 

A Process for Teaching Music to Children

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hear it, move to it, think it, sing it, play it, see it, write it.

...
Continue reading ...
 

Tweets from 2011 TMEA

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Friday, February 11, 2011

Didn't get to go to TMEA (Texas Music Educators Conference) meeting this year. Here are some selected Twitter Tweets to give me the feeling of being there:

TroyPetersMusicThis is only my second year at the @TMEA Convention, but I don't think I'll ever get used to how gigantic it is! Whoa...

zserratoLunch with some of my district colleagues. I really enjoy TMEA and the learning opportunities that are available. 

 ...


Continue reading ...
 

Care in Choosing Books and Materials for Orff

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, January 30, 2011

Books and stories are an integral part of Orff-Schulwerk. They engage students, stir their imaginations and can teach moral behavior. Care, however, must be taken in choosing these stories. The subject matter and stories surrounding the works of Orff and Keetman are not normally the stories you might expect to be children's fare-stories of life, love, work and even death. The stories and poems they chose could be humorou...


Continue reading ...
 

I Still Enjoy Student Performances

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The OrffSite Webmaster on Thursday, December 23, 2010

My elementary choir students finished up the semester with a mini choir tour and skating trip. Even though our venue was local, it was like my old secondary days. I hope they enjoyed the road trip as much as I and their audiences seemed to enjoy their performances. The live audience always seems to bring out the best in young singers. The live performance makes singing a real life experience and not just an empty exer...


Continue reading ...
 

A Generic Orff Sequence Outline

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, November 7, 2010

It helps to have a map, but as long as you keep in mind your destination, musical understanding, it's ok to take detours and meander. If you just need a decent map to get you started, here's mine. Remember to always begin with speech and/or movement.

Generic Orff Sequence

Hear it (audiation)
Say it
Feel it (movement/body percussion)
Sing it
Play it
Accompany it (drones and ostinati)
Expand/Improvise it (add to the form...


Continue reading ...
 

A Great Time of Year for Listening to Classics

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Friday, October 15, 2010

Halloween, whether or not you care to emphasis it, is a great time for listening and moving to some of the "spooky" classics. It's time to bring out "The Hall of the Mountain King", "Danse Macabre", "Funeral for a Marionette", and of course, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor".  Listening at the elementary level doesn't mean sitting passively and staring at the music room walls. There are free teacher made visuals in Po...


Continue reading ...
 

Elementary Music and Grades

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, October 10, 2010

I assess my students constantly, but I believe grades are unnecessary, despite the fact that I'm required to give them. 
I don’t trust District and State assessments. I haven’t seen one that measures how well a student has learned to play/sing their own part in an ensemble. I’ve never seen a test question that measures a student’s ability to improvise vocally, instrumentally or in movement. Where is the question ...


Continue reading ...
 

I Get Mail

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, September 6, 2010

Talking about approaches to teaching elementary music can sometimes resemble a discussion about religion! My purpose here is to share a way that's worked for me and not to bash another approach. In fairness, here's an email I recently received. Elementary music teaching is a big world. Orff-Schulwerk is the area I'm exploring, but it's not the only part of the universe. Dive in. The water's fine. Here's an email comment...


Continue reading ...
 

Rules and Procedures in a Musical Way

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, August 2, 2010

Some new teachers get concerned when they hear that a principal wants teachers to concentrate on rules and procedures the first week of school. Chill. Rules shouldn’t take long.No more than 4 or 5  classroom “rules” , and they could be along the line of: 1. Keep hands and objects to yourself (Head and shoulders knees and toes song) 2.Raise your hand to speak and wait for permission(Chicken on the fencepost can’t da...


Continue reading ...
 

Hand Signs and TiTi's

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, July 19, 2010

Curwen hand signs and Kodaly's rhythm syllables are not part of Orff-Schulwerk, though I've seen some Orff instructors use both. In theory I'm opposed to using both, especially at the K-1 level. K-1 children are concrete thinkers. Give them something real and not something abstract such as a TA. They wouldn't recognize a TA if it walked up and tapped them on the arm. They would recognize a peach or a bee. If the goal is tea...


Continue reading ...
 

No, I Don't Hate Tech, I Just Love Music Making More

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, July 18, 2010

I stumbled upon a teacher's blog where there was posted a discussion about using technology in music class. I jotted down my comments, some of which were not glowing about the wonders of technology in music class. That teacher seemed to be quite put out with me but he/she got the wrong impression. I do use technology in the class including my IPod, hand held recorder, document camera, Air Slates, laptop and digital projecto...


Continue reading ...
 

The Orff Approach is like......

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, February 6, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Friday, July 16, 2010

The Orff Approach is like teaching a kid to swim. You don't first sit them down with a book and tell them to read it and learn the terminology. With Orff, you put the kid in the water first. You have the whole process of swimming broken down into elemental pieces and start with the easiest and build on it until the kid is swimming. They learn to hold their breath and make bubbles in the water. Learning is a game. They play ...


Continue reading ...
 

The Kodaly Side

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, February 5, 2012,

Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Friday, July 16, 2010

I took a slight detour in my personal study today. I picked up a book that was a freebie in a box of teacher materials. It was The Kodaly Method by Lois Choksy. Her report of music in Hungary in the early 70's was fascinating. If only my classes met 5 to 6 times each a week. She believes that we can get a somewhat similar result by teaching a modified version of the Hungarian curriculum, using American folk songs as the bas...


Continue reading ...
 

What I Learned in Level III Orff-Schulwerk

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Sunday, February 5, 2012,

What I Learned in Level III

Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, July 12, 2010

Well, I'm officially certified in Orff-Schulwerk. That means I know enough about the approach it to be dangerous! My Level III instructors did a great job in dealing with process and sequence, which is really what attracted me to Orff-Schulwerk in the first place..no it wasn't identifying Lydian modes and playing the recorder, although I improved at both. I was pleased to find out that no matter how badly ...


Continue reading ...
 
 

Categories