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 mother perfectly and not only that, be able to spell it and contrast it with the word father. Labeling mom as mom is important, however.
I’m an Orff, and most Orff’s believe in experiencing it first, and then labeling it. With just two classes a week, I have a choice to either spend most of the time involved in real music experience(and get a bit of the labeling) or spend my time labeling things with which they have little experience. My District has a music assessment test that deals primarily with music reading, symbols, solfege, and a bit of listening. My school probably ranks in the bottom third of the pack, but that test doesn’t cover what my kids can do, such as, sing a wide variety of songs in tune, sing canons, speak and play 3, 4 and more ostinati pattern simultaneously, improvise intelligently on percussion instruments, move expressively to music etc. Once they hit band or orchestra in the 6th grade, they’re reading music everyday. They learn the reading quickly. I’ve never had a director say “Don’t you teach music reading?” I do hear about what musical students are in my school and how quickly they learn to play well.
Most of my career has been in secondary choral music and not in elementary. I found I could easily teach students to sing and sight read choral music, if they had experienced music by singing and playing it. I’ll take experience over reading and labeling, but if I could discover a way to do it all in two 45 minute classes a week, it would be ideal.
I guess I’m wishy washy and agree a bit with both sides, sort of like the scene from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Pete: Wait a minute. Who elected you leader of this outfit?

Ulysses: Well Pete, I figured it should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought.
But if that ain’t the consensus view, then ___, let’s put it to a vote.

Pete: Suits me. I’m voting for yours truly.
Ulysses: Well I’m voting for yours truly too.

Delmar: …..Okay… I’m with you fellas.