Book Review: “I’ve Got a Song in Baltimore”

At our last chapter workshop we have a mini-store from West Music.  There were great resources for sale!  I picked up the book, “I’ve Got a Song in Baltimore: Folk Songs of North America and the British Isles” by Matthew McCoy.

This book is amazing.  I was first interested in this book because Matthew McCoy was my recorder teacher for all three Orff levels at George Mason University and he taught 2 Orff Schulwerk repertorie classes that I took.  Matthew stays true to the Orff process throughout all of his teaching.  His process is the epitome of clear, logical, and creative process. 

I know many of you have purchased other Orff Process books from other teachers in the field and often times you find that each book has the same 5 American Folk songs with the same 5 Orff arrangements or sometimes even just “orffestrations” (treating the instruments AS the process instead of as a TOOL to use with the process). 

This book is different.

Matthew’s Book has a variety of folk songs that range from the familiar  “‘Liza Jane,” and “Great Big House,” to lesser known “Father Grumble,
 and “The Taylor and the Mouse.”  Not only does this book contain the folk songs (which you can guarantee are well-researched and accurate) but it also contains clear directions of how to play the games. Following any game directions is a clear process outlined to teach the song, and any instrument accompaniment.  The process is true to the Orff process, is clear, easy to follow, and FUN! My students have loved every moment of exploring these pieces. 

I find that following Matthew’s process has reminded me of the true essence of the Schulwerk and has also given me additional models for how I can approach different pieces for myself and my students which is, in fact, the purpose of the Schulwerk. 

If you are interested in a refreshing book full of great repertorie and process then this book is for you.  You don’t need to have traditional Orff instruments to use the book-  the process and games alone are well worth your investment.  If you’d like to see a copy email me and we’ll arrange for a time to meet up.

This is the best book I’ve purchased in years.

Thanks Matthew!


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