The department of music education was pleased to offer Lee students the opportunity to attend a national conference last fall. Thanks to generous funding support from Lee’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), six students studying elementary music education attended the 50th Anniversary National Conference of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association in November 2018. With a goal of promoting the integration of Christian faith and vocation, the QEP made it possible for these students to connect their scholastic understandings with their vocational calling through access to this professional learning opportunity.
The conference, held in Cincinnati, OH, featured workshops, performances, and presentations addressing the pedagogy of Orff-Schulwerk including active musicking for children through singing, speech, movement, and instrument playing.
Over the three-day meeting, we had lots of opportunities to see children’s outstanding performances and engage with music education professionals in a number of workshop sessions. We also enjoyed great fellowship around meals! “Some of my most memorable moments were outside of the sessions. They were conversing with my peers and mentors about topics discussed in the sessions. The analyzing and breaking down of the topics is what I found most beneficial” (Michaela Moore, Keyboard/Vocal/General Music Education, 2020).
Students identified many valuable models of instruction that brought ‘real world’ context to their classroom experiences. “During my experience at the Orff conference, I began to understand how to connect the concepts we had discussed in my classes at Lee with classroom music, movement and performance. We learned to not just create fun activities but how to target every discussion, piece and game towards learning objectives” (Monica Wright, Vocal/General Music Education, 2019).
Faculty in the department of music education are delighted to provide teacher candidates with exposure to professional development in the field that prepares students to step confidently into the practice of music education upon graduation. Through conference attendance like this, students become acquainted with like-minded peers as well as working professionals. “I was encouraged by seeing all of these music educators gather together and share methods and thoughts on how to create a more beautiful, expressive, well-rounded musical classroom.
Throughout the conference, I was given many opportunities to role-play as the young music student and experience teaching methods from that perspective” (Hannah Simms, Vocal/General Music Education, 2019. “Some of the greatest parts of the Orff Conference were witnessing veterans lead the sessions. By watching experts teach, we’re able to see what expert teaching looks like” (Alex Wingo, Percussion Performance/Instrumental Music Education, 2019).
Conference participation also offered nuggets of practical content. Exposure to a wide variety of repertoire and materials stimulated participants’ imaginations as they began to see themselves as teachers rather than students. “The Orff Conference was a great place for me to learn about some very practical songs, materials, and techniques that I can directly apply to my work with students. This experience helped me remember that teaching should be full of fun and exploration” (Kaley Wingo, Vocal/General Music Education, 2019). “I have always valued the importance of movement and creativity in the music classroom but have struggled with how to apply that to upper grade levels. This conference helped me to see how I can incorporate the ideas within Orff methodology to grades past elementary school” (Caitlyn Boyle, Vocal/General Music Education, 2019).
Faculty in the department of music education are dedicated to guiding students to embrace their calling and use their gifts to embody salt and light (Matthew 5) in the world. Thank you to the QEP committee for making this conference experience possible. “God has blessed me with many talents, and through opportunities like the AOSA 50th Anniversary Conference, I am equipped with abundant resources to do my job well. All of these things are shaping me into a better educator, citizen, and person” (Michaela Moore, Keyboard/Vocal/General Music Education, 2020).