Archive | July, 2010

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Reflections on Orff Level III

Posted on 10 July 2010 by

It’s the end of the “third” week and I am ready to begin the process of reflection on the two weeks prior to this that seemed like a lifetime ago. I took Level III back at UNC this year with the fabulous David Connors and new instructors, Jennifer Donovan(recorder) and Victoria Redfearn Cave(movement). What a joy to have “new blood” in the mix this year. Since I was fresh off taking Level II last summer, most of my classmates were repeats as well, and it was good to see old friends, but many came from previous years as well and it was great to make new friends too. This year’s class was the biggest Level III that UNC has seen topping out at a whopping 17! This made it difficult to get close and I find myself looking at the Level II Facebook posts (who became much closer with only 7 in their class) with a little jealousy. I am saddened that this my be the final professional Orff experience that I have for a while, at least until the kids are a little older. I don’t know if a master class is in the future, but I really want to do it when I have less distractions and can get my whole heart into my work.

Speaking of whole-heartedness, I came to the realization, with the help of David and some dear friends, that I need to let go of some strongholds that I have had in my teaching. One: this idea of avoidance when it comes to trying things that “fail” in my classroom. I tend to stay away from conflict and when my urban kids dish out plenty of it in situations that make them uncomfortable, my reaction is to never go there again. This has affected the overall singing instruction in the past five years, and definitely has an impact on movement activities with older children. I simply reject activities where I “know” the kids will push back on me with defiance. I need to work on keeping my nose to the grindstone and doing what is best for kids, not what they will react best to all the time. I think we, as urban educators, tend to overlook the fact that kids who push us to the limit are not in control. We cater to their high needs and try EVERYTHING to get them to succeed, putting our emotions and personalities on the line for them. Mine has been held captive for too long. I was told in this class that I need to get out from under the raincloud that I seem to be under all the time. This will be hard for me, but in the end I think it will benefit me, even if it means that this school and I need to part ways.Physically, if this can’t happen, I know outside of school I can make this happen by letting go of the fact that I can only be musical or an artist at work. I need to make plans to continue my work to scrapbook weekly, to join a dance class, or to do some other creative outlet experiences as much as my family will allow.

True artistry is what I was reminded of in this class this summer. I need to understand that it CAN happen with kids and that I need to model it all the time so that they will see it. Strangely, Victoria taught me (subliminally) that it may just be possible to do with a change in wardrobe. I went out and bought some more “movement friendly” pieces that I am hoping will increase my confidence as a movement teacher and also display a no nonsense approach to my teaching style. If I dress the part, they will come, or something like that. I am really looking forward to being comfortable at least, which I am hoping will making my mood more relaxed as I enter into another year chalk full of rough bunches of kids.

I was surprisingly challenged by two friends that I made while in Level III. One lost a job that sounded very similar to mine and she was a tremendous help when I had a rough practicum experience. She said she knew exactly how I felt when I expressed my frustrations with teaching in and urban environment vs. teaching a room full of music educators. The other friend had such a calmness about her that I want to emulate. Her routine professionalism and kindness, yet subtle high expectations, matched my personality and we got along well. Both women challenged my recorder playing which was a treat. Finally (after about 15 years!) I was not at the head of the class, bored with lack of good competition! Some advice given to me was to go to a Level 4 class at George Mason University, or to take a Master class to feel this way again. Maybe…. but I think it would also benefit me to take a level 1 again just to have fresh eyes and to experience a different instructor.

So there you have it… Overall, I think a lot of things “synced” with me taking this class. I’m not sure if the timing was right, but who’s to question God’s timing! I think that He surely spoke to me and told me truths I had needed to hear for a long time on a personal level. I thankfully got a chance to reflect upon my urban teaching experience and receive advice from a well respected mentor.  I will truly be glad that this class will be fully reimbursed by the district and that I will get to spend that money towards our debt-repayment. That will be a great feeling to pair with the huge accomplishment of becoming certified in all three levels of Orff Schulwerk- something I never dreamed possible when I started this journey into elementary music teaching. I think this will be an interesting year!


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