Montessori Music and Orff
For music teacher Caitlin Garry, learning doesn’t stop for the summer (or for weekends). In addition to her busy performance schedule with the National Philharmonic Chorale, this summer she spent two weeks at George Mason University studying Orff Schulwerk, an approach to music and movement education based Carl Orff’s idea that music, movement and speech are inseparable in the way the brain processes each. She learned “through singing, rhythmic speech, body percussion and movement, children gain experience and develop instincts for making music in a joyful and accessible way.” The method uses songs, rhymes, movement and games to explore music and musical concepts. What a wonderful way to spend the summer!
One of the basic tenets of the Orff-Schulwerk philosophy of teaching is the idea that in every lesson, there should be at least one opportunity for student voice. As a result, the children will always have the freedom (and be encouraged) to express their thoughts and opinions on the process of music-making. Improvisation, or “trying things out” musically, is a natural outgrowth of this. In the end, according to Ms. Garry, “the musical product is almost entirely student-created.” She continues, “As the teacher, I have a set of goals in mind in terms of the concepts I’m teaching, but the process by which my students reach those goals can, and should, vary based on their interests at the moment. Given its accessibility and its student-centered focus, Orff-Schulwerk aligns beautifully with Montessori education, and I am so excited to see where the teaching and learning process will take all of us in the coming year!”