The day was a medley of new and familiar tunes as I attended the Red Stick Orff workshop on August 15, 2015. Red Stick Orff is a chapter of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association (AOSA), and it’s dedicated to the professional development of music educators in Southeast Louisiana. Our workshops are based on the Orff-Schulwerk approach where music is taught through singing, dancing, speaking, moving, playing instruments, and creating. Imitation, experimentation, and self expression are at the heart of the Orff-Schulwerk pedagogy. As the Treasurer and founding member of this chapter, I took great pleasure in comparing Saturday’s workshop to our humble beginnings where a small group of music educators sought a means for networking and sharing. On Saturday, we had teachers from seven different parishes attend our workshop in Hammond, LA. This means over 14,000 students will be impacted from this one workshop.
Our clinician for the workshop was Brent Holl. Mr. Holl has had great experience teaching classroom music for middle school ages, and he owns Beatin’ Path Publications which publishes resource materials for music educators. The main focus of the workshop was the ostinato. An ostinato is a short, repeated phrase or rhythm. As he explained, the ostinato provides “immediate success” while creating opportunities for “complexity”. He also stated that it helps children develop their memory, physical coordination, expression, and listening skills. Throughout the workshop, the teachers were asked to collaborate and share ideas. There was also much laughter. Yes, we had to laugh at ourselves as we created an ostinato inspired by the movements and sounds of chickens. I loved the activity so much that I immediately began contemplating how to extend it by connecting it to the jazzy “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”.
In the end, I along with the other teachers left the workshop feeling inspired. There are so many ways to create and explore music. The key is to understand our students and adapt what we learned at the workshop to meet their needs.
Please check out the following links for more information about Red Stick Orff, AOSA, and Beatin’ Path Publications: