"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn." Michael J Fox.
"Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember.
Involve me, I understand." Carl Orff
Words, poems, stories, songs and chants are explored using a combination of movement with instrumental and vocal sounds. Orff instruments, which were specifically created for motor skill development and small hands and bodies, are used to foster an understanding of the language of music. Children use the musical tools learned in the classroom to create their own compositions.
Carl Orff was a German composer and educator who developed a unique approach to music education. Orff defined the ideal music for children as "never alone, but connected with movement, dance, and speech—not to be listened to, meaningful only in active participation." Orff said, "Experience first, then intellectualize." Based on this ideal, the Orff approach builds understanding of concepts and skills through connecting students with the music by experiencing it on all levels. These levels include speech/chants, movement, singing, drama, and by playing pitched and unpitched instruments.
The Orff philosophy encourages children to experience music at their own level of understanding. Children are learning in their natural environment of play. Improvisation is encouraged to allow children to explore the possibilities in music.
Children's brains are naturally wired for music
In 1924 Orff and Dorothy Guenther founded the Guenther school. The school was the co-ordinated teaching of dance, gymnastics, and music. Orff started to see that music, movement and speech are not separate entities in and of themselves but that they form a unity that he called "elemental music". When he refers to this, he means movement, music and speech created by children that children do naturally without thought. After teaching for years he came to understand that children are naturally "wired" for music. He taught that if children's natural wiring is not cultivated or excercised from a young age that the inherent abilities will diminish with time.
Orff''s approach was so successful and the public was so impressed, that Germany embraced the methodology for music lessons for children. The Ministry of Culture recommended the adoption of the "Guenther / Orff Experiments" in all elementary schools in Berlin.
The Orff philosophy is a music education for the whole person. It is essentially an active music experiential approach. Orff encourages creativity through the student's natural responses to music.
Orff begins with rhythm because it is the most basic of all the elements. He teaches this through natural speech patterns. For the child, speaking, singing, music and movement are all naturally connected. The teacher then leads the students through their own creative process. By connecting speech patterns to the rhythms, the child can master whatever meter or rhythm is needed. This naturally also leads to body rhythm patterns and movement to the music.
Melody is taught in the same way. Simple intervals grow out of the natural pitches from the words. These intervals combine to make a melody. This melody can later be put onto instruments. Orff said, "Experience first, then intellectualize." Only after the playing has been taught does the teaching of notation occur.
Part of the playing and experiencing which is essential to the Orff approach is the element of improvisation. As frightening as improvisation seems to be to adults, it is freeing to children. No rules! The teacher sets up boundaries in which the child can create his or her own rhythm, melody, or dance.
"The early years of life are crucial for establishing a foundation for lifelong music development. A child's musical experiences from birth to age five have a particularly profound impact on the extent to which she will be able to understand, appreciate, and achieve in music as an adult. Children must be exposed to a rich variety of music during these years in order to develop the necessary readiness for formal music learning when they are older." Edwin E. Gordon, The Gordon Institute for Music Learning
Students who have graduated from our Mini Musicians program have developed a very strong music vocabulary that can be easily transferred to any instrument.
Teacher training is an issue when choosing a music program for your young child. Orff teachers are trained differently than most traditional music lesson teachers. They have the necessary skills to engage your child. They also know what steps to take, how long each step should take, and understand the psychological and physiological make up and limitations of a child at these levels.
Smaller hands and developing motor skills are why it is very challenging for a child to play a full sized musical instrument. Orff recognizes this and all Orff instruments are designed for small children. At the same time, their design is perfect for developing motor skills.
Reading music notes is exactly like learning to read a completely different language and traditional private lessons often start by working through a music book (reading) at a pace and level of understanding more suitable to an older child. Your child is just learning how to read English, so adding a brand new language could be extremely challenging and NOT FUN. Orff teaches children how to read music by using rhythmic speech and chant, singing, movement, and playing. The traditional teaching technique in private music lessons often goes over a child's head and becomes frustrating for both teacher, parent, and child.
The singing and chanting in Orff music class helps to expand your child's memory, language skills, diction, and vocabulary. This is exactly what is needed at this age. We also can not forget that all children love to sing. We have to help them find their singing voice and develop their pitch at a young age so that they will have a great singing voice and pitch concept for the rest of their lives.
At this age, a specialized approach really needs to be adopted when teaching music lessons for children. Don't forget that your child's vocal cords are developing and growing. An Orff teacher understands and has been specifically trained about the vocal range and vocal health of a young student. She or he understands what specific music for young children should be utilised. In Orff there are specific notes, pitch range, and intervals that the Orff teacher concentrates on that will set your child up for a great future in singing, therefore choosing the correct kids music pieces that are appropriate. Our Oakville Orff teacher is fully trained in all these aspects.
The Orff music instruments are made especially for the growing hands and bodies of children. This, plus the multi-tasking elements of involvement in Orff music, helps to improve co-ordination and develop small and gross motor skills.
Addison Music Learning Centre is a music school located in Oakville, Ontario, providing music lessons for all Instruments and all ages. Addison Music Learning Centre is now providing online virtual internet music lessons too!
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