In the July holidays, while many teachers were exploring the beauty of our WA coastlines, 46 music educators chose to spend 5 days together expanding their musical minds and repertoire to learn more about their Orff-Schulwerk pedagogy, instrumentation, orchestration, vocals, recorder and tuned and un-tuned percussion arrangements. And WOW! What a wonderful week it was.
We were lucky enough to be inspired by the incredible talents of presenters Dr Carol Richards, Dr Robyn Stavely, Susie Davies-Splitter, Jackie Ewers, Kailee Marshall, Eboney Yapp and Andy Stewart.
In fact, this is what they’ve had to say about it…
Orff levels experience
Monday morning. Nervous energy. Light drizzle. Song emerges from nowhere. Mass singing ensues. I am with my people. Music teachers are a special breed.
The following five days sees my group of 28 fellow level 1’s start with our heads well submerged inside the turtle shell. The sequential nature of the high class teaching allows new bursts of confidence to gradually emerge from each learner. Our comfort zones are pushed and grow daily in a supportive environment where mistakes and learning are one. I gained immense confidence in movement and improvisation.
Some standout sessions were mesmerising in the quality of teaching, a true privilege to be a learner in the presence of an experienced teacher sharing their passion and wisdom. Connection between both the level 1 group and our teachers blossomed every day as we unlock new understandings and piece together the previously mind boggling puzzle of movement, voice, orchestration, improvisation and pedagogy. A select few exceeded on the recorder, showing delightful intonation never before heard on a $10 descant.
Friday afternoon. Laughter. Story telling. Joyful smiles. Hearty congratulations and cheering from all. Anticipation of trying these new materials and techniques with our own students. Music and movement close the levels to create an unmistakable sense of community among your fellow teacher musicians who have gladly given up a week of school holidays for this inspiring course. I can’t wait to reconnect with this group at level 2!
Written by Peter (Level 1)
Embarking on Level 1 of the Western Australian Orff Schulwerk courses has been transformative in my journey as a music educator. Through this immersive experience, I’ve delved into the core principles of Orff Schulwerk, uncovering a wealth of innovative teachings for my classroom. From exploring Movement and Dance to developing techniques in Orchestration, Improvisation, Recorder, Vocal, and Pedagogy, I’ve expanded my repertoire of skills and techniques, which have injected vitality into my classroom. As I integrate these methodologies into my teaching, I witnessed a remarkable shift in engagement and enthusiasm among my students. The Level 1 journey, rich with insights and practical knowledge, has set the stage for my continued growth as an educator, and I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to explore further levels in the future.
During the first week of the July school holidays I decided to take on level 2 ANCOS training. After completing level 1 in 2021 and knowing how much I learned and how much fun I had, there was no question I was signing up for level 2 and it did not disappoint! To be able to learn from industry greats such as Dr Carol Richard’s, Robyn Staveley, Jackie Ewers and Suzie Davies-Splitter was an opportunity not to be missed. Their knowledge and experience is priceless. I especially enjoyed my sessions with Suzie Davies-Splitter. Before starting level 2 I was very reluctant to do any improvisation, I had the mindset of “I’m a classical musician, I can’t improvise!” Suzie’s gradual development of this skill through simple and fun songs and games made it so much more clearer and I found myself confidently improvising by the end of the week. I now can not wait to start improvising with my students and implementing everything I learned from all presenters into my classroom. I look forward to completing more levels in the future.
Written by Tanya Harte (Level 2)
Completing Level 3 Orff this past July was an incredible learning and bonding experience. With a cosy group of nine, we were lucky enough to be taught and inspired by the wonderful Dr. Robyn Staveley and the talented Susie Davies-Splitter. Having these two experts cover the full scope of the Level 3 curriculum meant that each section – Orchestration, Recorder, Technique and Improvisation, Movement and Singing – could ebb and flow into each other in an integrated way, making it more meaningful. The laughs and jokes that were shared as we danced and sang our way through the week lead to new friendships being created, that will surely continue throughout the years. All of us would love to thank our wonderful instructors, Robyn and Susie, for generously sharing their expertise in such a caring and inspiring way. In addition, thank you to WAOSA for putting in the time, effort and enthusiasm to make this opportunity available. We are all looking forward to Level 4!
Written by Amy Hall (Level 3)
2023 is the year!Finally – for the very first time ever, Level 4 was brought to Perth by WAOSA. After starting Level 1 in 2012, I was so proud to receive my Level 4 certificate, 11 years after receiving my first. We were a small, tight crew of 4 and were so lucky to have Dr. Robyn Staveley and Dr. Carol Richards as our two presenters.We’d always start the day with one of Robyn’s delightful movement warm ups and only realise after that the piece we warmed up to had a correlation to the rest of the session. The repertoire for the week was based on different modes and changing time metres. It was safe to say that by the end of the week, our aural capacities has been expanded past the typical major and minor tonalities, and the standard duple and compound time signatures!It was a pleasure to be able to reacquaint ourselves with the alto, tenor and bass recorders and then mix them with tuned and untuned percussion.Under Carol’s instruction, our main assessment was to teach a lesson based on our chosen piece of music. We would teach components of the piece and only after the lesson, would our class hear the piece for the first time, but with familiar ears. All 4 of our lessons were so diverse but so enriching and well thought out.If you ever get the chance to do Level 4 – DO IT. It opened up avenues to using the Brown books, modal and mixed metre repertoire, teaching tuned percussion, recorder and movement and how to go about structuring a unit of lessons on specific pieces or concepts.
Written by Natalie Tran (Level 4)
Many thanks to all writers and participants who contributed their thoughts to this post.