To continuously improve the teaching and music skills of the YOSAL staff, the Board sent seven of its Teaching Artists to the San Francisco International Orff Course, late this summer. Orff-Schulwerk, or Orff “school work,” is a highly engaging approach to music education, using song, dance, movement, rhythm, speech, and drama, all centered around children’s play. This process of teaching music to children was created by composer Carl Orff and his colleague Gunild Keetman in the 1920s, and can be adapted and used to teach music to children, teens, and adults of all ages.
This two week course, originally held in San Francisco where it began some 30 years ago, took place at the beautiful, nature-filled, retreat setting of Hidden Valley Music Seminars in Carmel Valley. Two of the Yosal Teaching Artists, Tyler Reilly and Michael Gomez, had attended Level I of the training last year and were back for Level II this year. Joining them this time around for Level I were Isabel Guerrero, Felisha Garcia, Liz Baseman, and Miran McPoland, all teachers from the Pre-Orchestra program, with the exception of McPoland, who teaches the Juniors and Orchestra. Andrew Medley, who also teaches the Juniors and Orchestra, attended the one week “Masters” program in San Francisco, which took place prior to the Levels training.
The intensive Orff Levels course consists of singing, dancing, moving, and playing various instruments, such as recorders, xylophones, glockenspiels, maracas, hand drums, congas, and cowbell up to 12 hours per day. The trainees move from movement and dance classes to Orff-Schulwerk pedagogy to recorder classes, as well as specialized electives throughout the day. One of the many highlights of the training happens on the last night when all of the students from each level get to perform for each other, friends, and family using what they learned over the two weeks of music, movement, and fun! YOSAL teachers who attended were also able to make many international connections with fellow Orff teachers.
Among the multi-talented, world-renowned, Orff-Schulwerk teachers who lead the training sessions are Doug Goodkin, Sofia Lopez-Ibor, Richard Layton, Christa Coogan, Joshi Marshall, James Harding, Estevao Marquez, and Paul Cribari. Over 22 countries were represented at this year’s training with attendees from around the globe – Colombia, Japan, Brazil, Finland, Thailand, Spain, Germany, and South Africa, just to name a few. There are three Levels to complete in the Orff Course in order to obtain certification as an Orff-Schulwerk teacher with the American Orff Schulwerk Association, and Reilly and Gomez need just one more Level to complete. Garcia, Guerrero, Baseman, and McPoland also hope to continue on next year.