Thursday, November 23, 2017

Bring In the Children: Step 5

The Orff workshop is usually an adult-only affair, with an occasional child here and there when a participant can’t find babysitting. And yet the room is filled with children of every age.
They’re hidden under the layers of the adult years, for all of us have that 5-year-old, 9-year-old, 13-year-old still with us, for better or worse. And the "better" is when the playfulness, humor, innocence, confidence, delightful weirdness that used to be us but got covered over by adult responsibilities and expectations of civilization comes out to play again. I see it all the time, adults joyfully playing Miss Mary Mack or competing in The Cookie Jar or singing The Ants Go Marching with unbridled happiness and gusto.

So when working with children, enter their world. Lead them to a plateau where you as the adult know the territory and they will enjoy the view. But start down on the ground where they are and meet them on their own terms. And when working with adults, it’s the same, but a bit different as you have to coax the child to come out and play instead of focus actual children’s overabundant energy.

In either case, the key word is “play.” Not practice-scales-play-the-piano kind of play, not rack- up- points- on-Play-station kind of play, but “I wonder what I can do with this?” kind of play, where the curious hand meets the imaginative mind and genuine play emerges, the kind with no initial wrong and right answers, the kind that computers cannot touch, the kind whose only standard of success is the amount of fun plus the actual aesthetic, artistic result.

The question to ask of any class is “Where are the children?” You’ll know it when you find them, because there will be a buzz and an energy and a palpable excitement in the air. When the children are not present, you’ll notice the urge to look at your watch or yearn for coffee to keep you awake and stimulated.

So concludes my 5-step program, though of course there are many more I could add to the list.
But today is Thanksgiving and the festivities await. Take your time and read these all again before Monday’s classes.

There will not be a test.

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