I LOVE TO READ. Ever since I was little I have always loved the feeling of diving into a book and learning something new or being transported to a new world. This is probably one of the reasons among many that I became a teacher. I grew up in the Harry Potter years, and would read the books immediately when they came out. I was one of those who would attend the midnight launch parties just to get my hands on the books that night and be able to read them. I still love all things Harry Potter, but I have expanded my reading list as an adult.
When reading for pleasure I still love fantasies, syfy, and thrillers, but this post is more about the books I read for learning. I have 2 Orff/amusic teahcing books and 2 teaching books to recommend for you. (I was not paid or asked to write these reviews, I just really like the books). You can find my teacher book recommendations here: Summer Reading Had me a Blast…part 2
Elementaria- Gunild Keetman
For beginning Orff teachers, or teachers who just need a quick pick me up, this book is perfect. Gunild Keetman is the driving force behind the Orff Schulwerk. All though Orff is credited with almost everything to do with the process, Keetman wrote a lot of music in not only the volumes but also the supplemental books. In Elementaria, Keetman does an outline of both rhythm and movement concepts. In keeping with the Orff Theme, Keetman does not give rigorous step by step instructions for how to teach various rhythms and movement, but more guides the reader into various options that the teacher can then pick from for their own classroom.
I love the original examples given in this book by one of the founders of the Orff process. Keetman was especially critical in her role of movement, and the movement section of this book, complete with diagrams, is a testament to that. I read this book after taking my level 1 teacher equation ourselves and was able to follow along and see the different lesson options given. I do think, and some reviews on amazon say this as well, that if you don’t have any Orff experience at all this may come off as a daunting book. I would recommend this to any and all teachers, especially those who are just starting or in the Orff Schulwerk process. I know some people ask how to continue learning after taking Level 1, or how to start to put it all together, Elementaria is the answer to both of those questions.
Artful, Playful, Mindful
If you are looking for a way to start on an Orff curriculum plan, this is the book to start with. Jane Frazee lays out pitch and rhythm concepts for 2nd -6th Grade. She gives examples of how she would carry out her curriculum plan and songs she would use for each concept. It is again, not a set in stone approach but a guideline for how you could do it in your classroom.
The other part of Frazee curriculum guide is the sequencing of new ideas. It is a framework that I have used and tweaked in my own classroom as well. To start a new concept student should experience it in high quality musical experiences. These need to be well thought out lessons with the clear goal of what you want the students to experience. Then students need to be able to use this new concept themselves in new songs, games, and activities. Finally, Frazee suggests having students discuss and analyze the concept. This is where I differ in my classroom. I switch the 2nd & 3rd steps around. After experiencing, my students will analects, discuss, and name a new concept before continuing to use it in the classroom. I feel this is beneficial to being able to practice the concepts in the new songs but also to talk about it in musical terms while practicing.
Both of these music teacher books are great for beginning teachers, but also for veteran teachers who need a jolt of musical espresso in their lives. Whether it is summer break, winter break, or just during the school year I hope you enjoy these books and find them useful for your teaching practice.