Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why movement in a music class? (part 3/5)

If you feel uncomfortable moving...it probably means you're getting more out of it than everyone else!

aerial view of University of Victoria campus...so beautiful!
In the "olden days"...when I was in university...back in the 1980's...I was studying music education as part of a 5-year Bachelor of Education degree.

I had already been teaching private music lessons (piano, saxophone, clarinet, theory) in my home for 10 years.  I had some confidence about how to approach a music lesson for children.  I played classical piano and had all the exams, festivals, master classes and diplomas that are a part of that kind of study.   I'd prepared many students for exams and festival as well.  I could read music, write music, analyze form and chord progressions, etc...

I had no idea there was SO MUCH MORE to music for children.

I was hired immediately out of university.  I didn't even get to attend my graduation ceremony because I was working.  In those days, there were no teaching jobs...so that was a huge miracle in my life!

My first job was as a learning assistant teacher at a K-10 school (on a reserve in northern BC).  I learned a lot.
My second job was teaching grade 3 classroom and music (K-7 and special needs music) at a First Nations elementary school in northern BC.  (In those days, they were still called Indian reserves...not very politically correct!)   As part of my contract to teach, I had to complete the Introductory Level Orff course.

I'd read about Orff in my music ed classes, it sounded fun and easy.  I sure didn't "get" that movement was involved from just reading about it though.

Orff summer classes were 6 hours a day with homework every night.
  • We sang (fun for me), 
  • played recorders (easy for me),  
  • played the Orff instruments (so much fun!), 
  • we did folk dancing (that was okay)
  • and did creative movement (I hated this, resisted it...and it took years for me to LOVE it).  
I  did NOT understand WHY we had to move around the room with those silly scarves or imagine we were leaves or pretend we were lions or work cooperatively with others to create a "dance".  What on earth was THAT going to teach children about music???

Yikes!....that was me???  sigh...

In my university classes we learned about listening, matching pitch, Kodaly games, early childhood activity centers, writing lesson plans, using the provincial curriculum guides and music textbooks.  There was no movement of any kind.  We sat in chairs.  That was it.
I tried to get out of the movement portion of the Orff course that summer.  I tried to schedule dentist appointments, I tried to go home by pleading illness...I just did not get it.  The instructors (were FABULOUS) and explained that I would fail the course if I didn't participate in the movement sections. That was a huge motivator for me because I wouldn't be able to keep my teaching job without this course.  Naturally, I participated in all the movement portions.
Even though I loved to dance and danced every day at home, on weekends with my friends and at parties and weddings...I really loved to dance...I just did not see how the teaching of dance and music were in any way connected.

Now I think...how could I NOT see the connection?

Truly, it took me several years before I really began to understand the
  • personality-shaping 
  • confidence-building 
  • spirit-nourishing
  • and intellectual understandings (yes, intellectual...) that I (and the children) were receiving from all the movement work.
After many more years of study with many teachers in Orff, creative dance, folk dance, primal dance, jazz, African dance, developmental movement therapy and authentic movement, I "get" it.

Movement is the "play" in "play-based" learning!

All I say to teachers now is...don't think about it...just trust and DO it.  If it feels uncomfortable...it just means you're getting more out of it than everyone else!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great way to say how important movement is to children (and teachers). The more I teach music the more we move!


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