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Advice from the Sages

by Sarah Hruska-Olson

The recent September 27 Minnesota Orff workshop featured a lunch time panel discussion with three Orff Schulwerk master teachers: Judy Bond, Arvida Steen, and Jane Frazee.  They talked about their early experiences with Orff Schulwerk and answered questions from audience members.  Here are just a few choice pieces of insight from the discussion:

On Singing: 

“Your first instrument is your voice.  If we can’t work with the voice, we are not really making music.  It takes some children a long time to make their singing musical.  Don’t give up on them.”
-Arvida Steen

“I think singing is basic.  The two primary instruments are the body and the voice.  Even classroom teachers should sing and move everyday”
-Judy Bond

“When I was a student of Orff Schulwerk I was taught that the voice was accompanied by instruments.  The two were never separate.  We’ve come to learn that these are two different skills that should sometimes be worked on separately.”
-Jane Frazee

On Other Styles of Music Education:

Judy Bond founded an organization called “Alliance for Active Music Making.” 

The purpose of the organization is to promote collaboration between practitioners of Orff Schulwerk, Dalcroze, Kodaly, and Gordon.  The idea is to work together to promote active music making even if there are disagreements in some areas of pedagogy.

“Internal conflict about differing approaches keeps us young, vital, and learning. “
-Arvida Steen

On Orff Schulwerk in the Music Classroom: 

“It was tough being an Orff teacher in the early days.  We were criticized for not having a music education basis.  We needed a process and a sequence and a useful outcome.  Whatever you are doing, you should know why!”
-Jane Frazee

One final interesting tidbit: Arvida Steen mentioned that her very first experience with Orff Schulwerk was observing Jane Frazee teach at MacPhail! 

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