Thursday, March 17, 2011

2nd Birthday Party

Silly Streak Chocolate Birthday
Turn favorite photos into your baby's 1st birthday invitations.
View the entire collection of cards.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lessons from the Institut

As I reflect back upon the week that I have had with some amazing teachers and colleagues, I can't really believe that it has finished. I would love to continue on the journey for another week. I am going to attempt to summarize some of the big ideas that I have learned from each part of the course in this blog, but I am not sure how successful I will be.
In Ulriche Jungmeier's class, I had the pleasure of watching her seamless process unfold for three sessions. We flowed from one activity to the next, with clear purpose. Her first lesson was a piece from MFC Vol. 4, and appropriately enough, about goats and goatheards. She invoked images of many goats, big and small, running around the mountain side. We all felt like you could actually hear them in the final piece. In the second lesson, we explored rhythm and movement. Ulrike really encouraged us to be free in our movement improvisations. These were all later put onto percussion instruments in small groups. The last lesson took us directly from warming up into making rain sounds on the floor and then into creating them on a variety of instruments. She was very inspiring and makes me want to become more animated and lively with my students.

The two sessions that I haven't commented on are Doug Goodkin's class on Xylophone Music from Around the World and Keith Terry's Body Music. I will start with Keith's class. For those people who haven't heard of Keith, check out his website: He is a phenomenal musician and is very much into how you can use body percussion (snapping, clapping, patting, stepping, singing, etc...) to a whole other level. I have taken sessions with him at AOSA's national conference before and they were really mind blowing! Now that I have known about how he makes music and have done some of my own explorations with rhythm and body percussion, I felt more at ease with fully participating in these classes. It was nice to have three 1.5 hour sessions because he was really able to develop the body music blocks and the concepts of phasing (like a round or a canon, but with rhythms,) polymeters (playing rhythms that are in more than one time signature at the same time,) polyrhythms, and sense of crosspulse (when two or more beats, time signatures, or meters are happening in the same amount of space.) If you know me well, you know that being confident when performing or reading rhythms is something I have always struggled with. Strangely, I did not struggle much with learning to understand the basics of all of the tasks in Keith's classes. Much of that is owed to Keith himself being a wonderful teacher. The other part of it must be credited to Jay Broeker, with whom I had my levels and curriculum training with. Jay uses a rhythm reading system called "takadimi," which has some roots in Indian drumming and rhythm traditions. What I love about the system is that each division of the beat has it's own discrete rhythm syllable, making it less confusing for a musician of any age and ability level. Part of what Keith taught us used simialr syllables, making it all the more easy for me to understand and perform with my group. Again, check out his work - it is truly fabulous!
My other afternoon session was with Doug Goodkin, who I have drawn inspiration from for a long time. He led us to explore many different types of lessons for children and in playing xylophone music from around the world. Again, I must point out that this was made easier for me to grasp only through the wonderful education I received at Morehead State University and at the University of Kentucky. He used some of Keith's body music concepts to make learning the pieces easier. Something that has been driven home over and over again is how much easier any musical task becomes once you put it on the body and speak it outloud. We played many pieces with kotekan, or interlocking parts. These pieces were the most intriguing to me. For the instrumentalist to play them well, you must first hear the whole melody, and not just the part you play. It is one of the coolest things! I wish everyone had a chance to experience it. We also played a few jazz pieces and talked through some issues regarding sequencing xylophone by grade level and what types of things are appropriate.

Wow! This is a very long post... I am making up for my lack of writing quickly, it seems!
I will reflect more tomorrow after I return from my "Sound of Music" Tour. Until then, Auf Wiedersehen!

Friday, July 9, 2010

More tomorrow...

Hi All,
I apologize for not writing more the past couple of days, but I had forgotten how exausting these courses can be. I have learned so much here! I just need to put it into words for you to read. I will write more tomorrow afternoon, after the closing session. It is very late here and I am trying to avoid the reccurance of a major headache from last night.

Sweet Dreams!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words, So They Say...

Today, you can see if this cliche is true...

This is the view on the way to Hellbrunner Allee and the Institut.

The Orff-Institut

This is the Schloss Frohnburg (Frohnburg Palace) where some folks are staying.

This one is really for my students...So they can see where their friend, Mr. Rest, has traveled this summer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 1 - Afternoon Classes and Day 2

After lunch, everyone had signed up for two afternoon workshops, noting a third if those two choices were full. Luckily, I was able to have both of my first choices: Elemental Composition with Ranier Kotzian and Xylophone Music with Doug Goodkin.
As we came into the composition class, Ranier asked us all by gesturing to join him in a circle. He then told us that he was going to tell a story, some of the things in it were trueand some were not. A truly great story teller, we fell for the story about his missing car, hook, line, and sinker. This led us into learning some small repeated motives (ostinati) and eventually a story sequence. We took this sequence and rearranged it many times, eventually creating our own patterns. We also used these patterns for games and to create our own melodies. Ranier's process is seamless and teaching style is very engaging for us tired adults. I can only imagine how wonderfully it would suit young children. After unpacking everything we had done, we were then off to learn some xylophone music.

In this class, Doug led us through a body percussion piece which morphed into a movement with song from Uganda. It has two layered parts in voice and in movement which made it tricky but very satisfying. After twisting our brains with that, we moved to xylophones with some mallet games to keep us from playing on the instruments before we were prepared. (Teachers in classes are much like the children we teach! Some of us also make horrible students now, as far as being respectful and patient.) Doug then eased us little by little into playin on the instruments with a very engaging action story, which I was excited to experience with him first hand, as I had used it with my students. Luckily, I was not too far off in my interpretation of it.

The day finished out after dinner with a marvelous performance by Keith Terry. Keith is a body musician, body percussionist, etc.; there are many names for what he is doing. His work is jaw dropping, revolutionary and a throw-back to the very first musicians all at the same time. If you get the chance, you should check out his website at Very cool stuff!
Doug Goodkin then talked briefly about the history of jazz, demonstrating with Keith some hambone, juba, and some other jazz pieces and a little about their history.

Instead of just regurgitating anymore about my first day and then about my second, I just want to tell you the biggest thing that I have learned so far: the power of story telling. It has been everywhere! I have been using it for a long time to an extent, but never understood the full weight of its power. I am not just talking about choosing a picture book to pull the story from, but really creating your own stories to frame the concept you are trying to teach your students. The full potential of this tool has come to my attention in a big way this week. I think that this is just one of many valuable lessons I will come to learn and unpack from the Institut.

Coming Tomorrow...
More class observations from Doug, Ranier, Andrea Ostertag, and Keith Terry.
Also, I will post some photos from my first trip to the main city and new ones
from my afternoon tomorrow.