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August 2015 – Youth Orchestra Salinas

Month: August 2015

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.


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Some of YOSAL’s board members ready to serve dinner before the Summer Concert.

YOSAL successfully produced an exciting Summer program. Conducted at Kammann Elementary School for six weeks culminating in a final concert that was completed with a family BBQ for 125 Salinas students, graciously served by our wonderful YOSAL board members. The program highlighted the many colors of “American” music.

Dr. Asmar Samra, Monterey Symphony musicologist and guest speaker, presented the students with a context for their summer efforts delving into the many timbres of the American music genre. They learned that whether listening to the jazz of Louis Armstrong or the Symphonic music of Aaron Copland, the cumulative body of music in this country is rich and diverse.

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YOSAL’s Pre-orchestra at the First Friday’s Art Walk

The YOSAL Orchestra performed brilliantly at the Salinas Rodeo during the Cowboy Poetry event. Students form the pre-orchestra program performed at the Maya Cinemas for “First Fridays” Art Walk in Oldtown Salinas and showed the art pieces they prepared with the help of local artist Patricia Sullivan-Triumpho. Also, the Orchestra’s honors quartet participated and performed at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Carmel as a part of the Baumer String Quartet Ensemble Workshop.

Some students and teachers enjoying a playful afternoon at Carmel Beach.

Some students and teachers enjoying a playful afternoon at Carmel Beach.

Unanimously, the highlight of the Summer was the program’s field trip to the Carmel Bach Festival’s open rehearsal and a playful afternoon at Carmel Beach. The final week began with a post-concert day trip to Big Sur for hiking, Native American dance, drumming, and singing. We are extremely grateful to the Carmel Bach Festival and the Big Sur Land Trust for making these rewarding experiences possible to our students. Every Monday throughout the summer, everyone got their rhythmic groove going for the week with a Zumba class.

Thank you to our many volunteers, special guests, contributing partner organizations, and board. We look forward to even greater things in the Summers to come!


By:Tyler Reilly

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