I don’t know what’s happening in your school district but in my district, all focus is on the upcoming FCAT test. The teachers are feeling the pressure. As we all know, when the teacher feels the pressure, the students feel the pressure. They are doing FCAT drills, countdown packets, and focusing on test-taking skills in addition to keeping up with their regular curriculum. It’s a lot of information for these students (and teachers too)! I think that society tends to forget that these are children and they need to express their “childness” even when high-stakes testing is nearing.
We, as music teachers, have the tremendous opportunity to help the students in this time to allow them the freedom of being children. The Orff process is magical. Beginning with preliminary play, moving through imitation, exploration, improvisation, and creation – the students can be children. The process allows for them to express their true “childness.”
I’ve decided that my classroom will be a haven in this time of added pressure. I’ve decided that I will give the children freedom to move, play, and create music. We will be playing games (preparing the mind for new concepts or rhythms), playing with the new content, and then using the new content in our own ways!
Try this for a few minutes in your class:
A Guided Discovery of Hand Drums
Have the class sit in a circle
The teacher holds up a hand drum and says, “This is not a drum, it is a ___*pizza*______.” They say something that the drum could be in a pretend setting (pizza, table top, moon, umbrella, etc…) and makes a gesture with the drum to look like the object they said.
The teacher passes the drum to the next student. The student says, “This is not a *pizza*” (making the gesture and saying what the teacher said) “it’s a ___*something else*___.”
Tell the students that there are no wrong answers and they are encouraged to think of something new.
See how many different things the class can come up with!
A little guided discovery like this provides the children time to TALK about the new item and learn about it by thinking about it in many different ways. They become invested and feel like a part of the learning process. How many times in our musical lives have we had teachers always “tell” us things or “tell” us about things rather than letting us have the opportunity to think for ourselves.
We are in the business of empowering children. Let’s give them the opportunity to be part of the discovery process.