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!

It's Not on the Test!

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 check students out on an area of music learning that is specific, mostly in the area of music terminology, certain signs and symbols, some rhythm and solfege reading and some other areas.
What I do know, is that it doesn't assess most of the area that I deal with on a daily basis. I assume that any assessment that might be given should have as it's basis the music TEKS of Texas. These are the things that the State of Texas mandates us to teach. The following would fit under that definition yet is not covered by our District assessment. Here are some of those areas not tested and some possible test questions:

Creativity: Using fruit names, create a 4 beat ostinato. Write an original verse to Skip to My Lou. The last word must have the “oo” sound at the end
Demonstrate appropriate free movement to the following piece.  Watch the following movement video. Now listen to the following two pieces. Which piece of music would fit the movement in the video?
Movement : 1.Which picture shows a promenade?   2. What sort of movement is skipping across the room?   A. Locomotor B. Non Locomotor  
3. Moving high and moving low are two different:   A. Pitches  B. Levels    C. Energy
4. If stepping on the beats  is called macrobeat movement, stepping twice as quickly would be called: A. Marconi Beat Movement   B. Microbeat Movement  C. Microwave Movement
Orff Instruments and playing skills: 1. Which picture shows a xylophone set up for C pentatonic?
2. What letter name bars should be removed for a C pentatonic set up
3. Which picture shows the chord chart for playing a one finger G chord on Baritone Ukulele?
4. Which picture shows the correct holes to be covered for playing a B on the soprano recorder?
5. Listen to the following music. This is an example of: Simple Drone, Broken Drone, Level Drone.
6. The largest bar on a xylophone produces the instruments:   A. Highest Pitch     B. Lowest Pitch
7. Stamping feet, patting legs and clapping hands is an example of using:  A. Drone   B. Body Percussion  C. Locomotor Movement
8. The lowest sound on a Djembe is produced by playing: A. on the outside edge  B. in the middle of the instrument.
Singing skills:  1.Singing or playing a rhythm silently in your “head” is called:
A. Fermata   B. Audiation       C. Acrobatics
2. Please match the following pitch with your voice.
3. Listen to the first pitch played. Next listen to the next two pitches.  Which pitch matched the first pitch play.  A. The first one   B. The second one.
4. Sing the following song Riding in the Buggy Miss Mary Jane, correctly, starting on any pitch.
Knowledge of Music Literature:   1. This music is from: A. The Nutcracker  B. Annie  C. Carnival of the Animals  2. List the titles of 5 folksongs..or 2 Patriotic songs or 3 seasonal songs
All of the above can be considered as included in the TEKS and could be included in a District Assessment.

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

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...
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My New First Page and Blog Explanation

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...
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Rubrics and Evaluation Ideas for Orff Teachers

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...

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A Thoughtless Question

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, ...

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Help for Non-Skippers

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...

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What Should Your "Real" Lesson Plan Look Like?

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...

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More #Orff Tweeters, Please!

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 ...

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Here's a Cool Online Recording Program

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...

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Don't Forget to Use "The Volumes"

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...

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