AU celebrates 10th year of Orff Schulwerk

Mon, 2013-07-15 09:24 -- univcomm
Orff Schulwerk certification training at Anderson University in Indiana.
July 15, 2013

"One, two, three. One, two, three."

More than 80 educators from 14 different states decided to get out of their comfort zone at Anderson University this week to learn a popular teaching method to pass on to their students: Orff Schulwerk.

The approach, which was originated by German composer Carl Orff, is described as child-centered and combines music, movement, speech, and instrument use into lessons which simulate a child's world of play. AU's York Performance Hall is hosting the only Orff certification program in the state this summer, and Saturday the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance celebrated the 10th anniversary of its summer music program.

[Photo: Educators participate in a movement exercise during Orff training at Anderson University.]

The elementary teachers practiced moving, getting close, and using percussion instruments under the direction of Steve Calantropio, national education director for the American Orff Schulwerk Association. The principles of kinesthetics and randomization are heavily used in the teacher method in hopes of stimulating children's creativity.

Since the method is based on physical activity, instructors decided on an active celebration on Saturday, rather than having the teachers sitting and listen to a symposium.

"It's a very divergent teaching style," said professor Joani Brandon of AU's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. "You start with a seed idea, but the end result can be just about anything. That's why it's so great, especially for elementary-level children."

The style is widely used, but there are only 47 institutions in the country that offer training and certification for Orff. For faculty, that means AU can have a positive impact on classrooms throughout the country.

"We believe in the Orff teaching method as a highly effective way to engage children in making and enjoying music," said Dr. Jeffrey Wright, dean of the College of the Arts.

The program features three levels from beginner to mastery, and Brandon said she enjoys watching teachers come back year after year to become certified.

Kayla Shoemaker, an elementary school teacher from Auburn, cleared Level 1 last summer and returned to work the program this year. She said she enjoyed it immensely and plans to complete Levels 2 and 3 in the next two summers.

"It's great for young kids because it teaches teamwork and cooperation," Shoemaker said. "You have to get pretty close and move around a lot."

The Orff training program still has one more week before wrapping up for the summer, but the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is already planning ahead for the next two summers. Programs will begin on June 16 in 2014 and June 22 in 2015.

— Jack Molitor is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Reposted with permission. Photo by John P. Cleary/The Herald Bulletin.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.