Monday, July 24, 2023

Level III

Here’s a music teacher’s confession:


1) I love teaching beginners in Orff Schulwerk, opening the door to a world that could— and quite often does— change their life. Their excitement and enthusiasm and “ah-ah!” moments carry the freshness of a curious 1st grader still filled with curiosity and questions and the wonder of the world.


2) I love teaching my Jazz Course, combining my passion for the music with my knowledge of how to teach it more effectively to beginners via the Orff approach. I particularly love teaching the course in the U.S. , where this music, stitched both visibly and invisibly into our national psyche suddenly becomes more understandable and playable. I love watching people who have never improvised a jazz solo discover they can and I love those who were told they can’t discovering that their former music teacher lied to them. And though it always carries some difficult moments and some genuine grief, I love the discussions that arise about justice and the things we do in class to help heal. 


3) But here comes the confession part— I think what I love most of all is teaching Level III in our Orff Certification Course. Getting to work with the students who spent two weeks two years ago awash in the Romance of Level I, two weeks last year intrigued by the Precision of Level II and now are ready to combine the Romance and Precision in the Synthesis of Level III.


They come into the first class knowing a lot— about the Orff approach to pedagogy, elemental composition and improvisation, some rigorous music theory. They also know each other and that makes it easier for them to jump in uninhibited and improvise spontaneous crazy vocal/movement/dramatic pieces in front of the teacher and their peers. And they have skills. Can play both soprano and alto recorder, know their way around on xylophones and percussion, have internalized basic and useful dance vocabulary and can sing precisely and lustily in a variety of styles. 


So while I admire musical cultures in which the master musicians are willing to spend some time teaching people of all levels instead of reserving their genius for the supremely talented and advanced students, there’s something to be said for being able to count on such high level understanding, technical skill and still childlike-enthusiasm. All teachers—but especially music teachers—live on the immediate feedback they get from their students. While we need to be patient when we ping the ball across the net and the student often misses the pong, there’s alot to be said for the consistent return that makes the game interesting, satisfying and challenging for both parties. 


In just two 45 minutes sessions with this group of 27, we did so much today! Played so much music through all kinds of mediums, touched on key pedagogical points and even went straight to some stories of our greater purpose of learning to love our students unconditionally and help them reveal some of their deep character to us, their peers and themselves. All through the joyful medium of music. After the first two sessions, I already was feeling, “Dang! Only 18 sessions left! “


Can’t wait for tomorrow— the game is on!! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.