Orff Instruments Musicianship Project

Orff Instruments Musicianship Project and Reflection

For my Art of Teaching Children Music class we had a musicianship project for Orff instruments. For this project we had to find a simple pentatonic song, create a bourdun part for a bass metallophone or bass xylophone, an ostinato part for alto or soprano xylophone, a part that adds an element of “color” for the glockenspiel, and a part for an unpitched percussion instrument with complimenting rhythms to the song. We were supposed to teach various different parts to our classmates, and then perform all the parts together while singing the song. There were several aspects of the process we were supposed to record. We recorded each individual part, the whole group, and ourselves just playing the melody on one of the instruments. Additionally we had to notate the parts and compile a score with all the parts. 

I chose the song “Cedar Swamp”, which I included in its original state here:

Cedar Swamp

When I was notating the arrangement I did run into the complication of how to notate the glockenspiel’s color part. I decided to have this part be an improvised cluster chord where the musician can play any two notes from the D pentatonic scale on the beats that are notated with the glockenspiel playing. I have picked notes to show where this part plays and to give an example of a possibility of what this part could play, but they can be substituted with any two notes in the D pentatonic scale. This is my two-page score for the arrangement:

Score pg.1
Score pg. 2

We were given various different options for what kind of bourdun we could do, and I decided to do this alternating one. This is the recording of my bourdun part on the bass metallophone:

Our ostinato parts had to be derived from the song itself, mine is derived from the second measure where the singers sing “Cedar Swamp” on B-A-F#. This is the recording of my ostinato part on the alto xylophone:

As I stated earlier, I decided to have the color part be an improvised cluster chord where the musician can play any two notes from the D pentatonic scale at then ends of each phrase. This is the recording of my color part on the glockenspiel:

For the unpitched percussion we had to do a complimentary rhythm to the song, and we had to pair it with words that we could teach to children to help the conceptualize the rhythm through speech before doing it with the instrument. The words were supposed to be something that did not come from the song, but that related to the song in some way, so my words were “Cedar Swamp Fish”. This is the recording of my part on the maraca:

I encountered some challenges when playing this part. There were no instruments with the range I needed for this song’s melody, so when I play the knocking sound, that is supposed to represent a low B, so imagine a low B there instead of a knock. This is the recording of me playing the melody of the song on the alto xylophone:

This is the recording of my peers and me playing the entire arrangement:

Finally, after the process we had to complete a reflection on the project based from some guided questions, which I have included here:

Orff Instruments Musicianship Project Reflection

  1. What did you learn from this experience that can inform your own musicianship and your teaching?:

One of the main things that I think I learned that helped my musicianship was how to derive various parts out of songs to make improvisations off of. I thought that it was a very interesting concept to derive the ostinato part from the song itself, and I thought this was a very useful concept to hold on to for improvising, arranging, and composing. There were several useful ideas that I got from this for teaching. I thought that the idea of using speech to help teach the rhythm to the unpitched percussion part was brilliant. I will definitely take that idea with me as I work with students. I especially liked that we made them related to the song, this way the entire lesson is unified and connected. I also found the whole Orff process of breaking the instrument parts down into small elements very interesting and useful. This is a brilliant idea that I would love to use and learn more about.

  1. What problems did you experiences or uncover throughout the process?:

There were only a few problems that I encountered that were rather easy to address and fix. I had to play the melody to my song on an instrument to record it, but none of the instruments had the correct range for me to do so. The way I dealt with this was simply by playing a knocking sound on the side of the instrument as if the bar for that note was there. I also ran into the issue of how to notate the color part, which I decided would be an improvised cluster chord comprised of two notes from the D pentatonic scale. I asked my professor how to solve this issue, and she suggested picking two notes and notating those in place of the improvised chord and simply putting a note of how it would be performed.

  1. How might what you have learned from this experience “live on” in your teaching? Consider strategies, activities, problems, etc. in relation to teaching children.:

I will definitely take away the idea of teaching rhythms partially through words and speech to help the students internalize the rhythm in a natural and organic way. I would also like to put this whole process into practice. I think the Orff approach to instruments playing with a song is really spectacular. Breaking down all these small units is a really great way of creating this larger texture and ensemble feel to the piece. It includes many students at once, and the simplicity of every individual part makes it very doable for the students to participate and feel successful. I would love to learn more about how to do this and get more experience doing this so I could be able to utilize this skill in a classroom of students.

Following this project we had to think about how we would teach this song in a lesson, and we had to write a lesson plan for it. Here is my lesson plan: 

Orff Musicianship Project #4 Lesson Plan

Name: Adam Peterson

Date: 11-19-15

New Music Concept/Objective:
-The students will be able to sing the song “Cedar Swamp” while playing instrument parts in an ensemble.”

“I Can…” Statements:
-I can sing the song “Cedar Swamp”.
-I can do specific motions that go along with “Cedar Swamp’ while singing the song.
-I can transfer these motions to playing instrument parts.
-I can play instrument parts that go along with “Cedar Swamp” in an ensemble while singing the song.

Materials Needed:
-Song Cedar Swamp
-bass metallophones
-bass xylophones
-alto metallophones
-alto xylophones
-a pair of mallets for each bar instrument
-outline of all the different parts

-have the students sit down facing me and sing the song for them once
-“Listen to the last two lines. One ends up, and one ends down. See if you can figure out which one is whch.” à sing the last two lines for them holding up 1 and 2 with the lines so they know which is which
-have them show me with their fingers which ended up à 1
-and then which ended downà 2
-teach the last two lines to them through echoing
-sing the last two lines together
-add an alternating patting beat à “This time pat the beat along with the song. Pat it in your left hand and then your right hand.”; demonstrate and say “Left, right, left, right” (make sure to do it backwards so that you mirror them, and make sure to have them do it left then right because this will be the movement related to the bourdun)
-“So you are patting, ‘Ce-dar Ce-dar’ on left-right-left-right.” à basis for the bourdun
-sing the last two lines together while patting the “Ce-dar” pattern
-“Now I am going to sing the whole song, and please join me when we get to, ‘Swing a lady’ singing and doing the ‘Ce-dar’ beats.”
-do this
-“Now let’s focus on the first part of the song. Listen and watch as I sing that beginning part with some motions added in.”
-do the beginning part and on “Cedar Samp” and “Pretty Little Miss” pat on left-right-cross(left) à this will be backwards of what you want, so they should do right-left-cross(right); also on “muddy” and “honey” do two pats with both hand on legs
-“Listen again and figure out what I am saying when I do the crossing pattern, and what I am saying when I just do the two pats.”
-do it again as they listen and watch
-“What things do I say with the crossing patterns?” à “Cedar Swamp” and “Pretty Little Miss” –“What about for the two pats?” à “muddy” and “honey”
-“Can you join me this time on those with the singing and the motions?”
-do it with them joining on those
-“Do you think you can sing the whole first part now?”
-do the first part with them singing the whole thing and doing the motions on the parts we added motions to
-“Now it has been a while since we have done the whole second half, what is the motion we do for the second half?” à “Ce-dar” beat on left-right
-“What are the first few words of the second half?” à “Swing a lady”
-“Right! It’s the part that goes…” demonstrate for them
-“Now that we remember that let’s do the whole song, and remember, when we get to the second half with the ‘Ce-dar’ beats remember it is left then right, so start with your left hand!”
-do the whole thing with motions where there are some.
-“Now that we know the whole song we are going to add some more stuff to it!”
-teach them the “swing home” snaps à beginning idea for the color part
-count 1-2-3-breath “swing home” to demonstrate
-have them do it with me
-then demonstrate the very beginning with the snaps à “Way low down in the Cedar Swamp swing home
-sing the song while doing the snaps for them to see how it all its together
-“This time I am going to do the same thing and please join me on the ‘swing home’ snaps and say the “swing homes” for me because since I am singing I can’t say them.” àdo this
-“Now sing with me and do the snaps and think the ‘swing homes’ in your head as you do the snaps.”àdo this
-“Question time! What is a swamp anyway?”
-talk about what a swamp is and how it has water
-“So since it is a body of water, there must be fish, right? So the fish who live here are ‘Cedar Swamp Fish’.” à clap the rhythm while saying that
-“Everyone say and clap ‘Cedar Swamp Fish’ with me.” à do this
-have them do it over and over again
-“Keep going with this and saying ‘Cedar Swamp Fish’ and I am going to sing the song.” à do this
-“Now let’s all try singing and clapping at the same time.” à do this
-“Now we are going to mix things!”
-cut the class in half and have one half do the “Cedar Swamp Fish” claps and the other half do the “swing home” snaps while singing à so this
-add on another partà take the “Ce-dar” beat from the song that they are already familiar with and teach them to do that through the whole song; do it all together singing and doing the “Ce-dar” beat
-then split the class in three with one group on the “Ce-dar” beat one on “Cedar Swamp Fish” clap, and one on “Swing Home” snaps
-then add on the “Cedar Swamp” pats from the song they learned earlier (with the right-left-cross)
-teach them to do this throughout the entire song while singing
-split the class into four groups, one on “Cedar Swamp” pats, one on the “Ce-dar” beat, one on “Cedar Swamp Fish” clap, and one on “Swing Home” snaps
-“Everyone please go to an instrument.” (there will be a variety of bass metallophones, bass xylophones, alto metallopohones, alto xylophones, soprano xylophones, glockenspiels, and maracas set up throughout the room)
-have everyone who is at a bar instrument do the “Ce-dar” beats on the instruments with the left hand on the D and the right hand on the A; then any one who is not on a bar instrument just do the motions like we have been doing them
-then have the people on bar instruments play it with the mallets
-have them continue to do this pattern and then bring in the singing while they are doing this pattern
-repeat this process with the “Cedar Swamp” pat à have them pat then with mallets and then add on the singing à the “Cedar Swamp” pats are on B-A-F#
-repeat this with the “Swing Home” snap à pat, mallets, then add singing à explain that on these with both hands hit any two notes you want; demonstrate this first so they see how it works
-then have the people with the maracas do the “Cedar Swamp Fish” pattern on the maracas and anyone who is not on maracas clap the rhythm
-then continue this and add in the singing
-now have all the people in the bass metallophones and bass xylophones do the “Ce-dar” beat pattern, the people on the alto metallophones and alto xylophones do the “Cedar Swamp” pat pattern, the people on the glockenspiels do the “swing home” snap pattern, and the people on the maracas do the “Cedar Swamp Fish” clap pattern
-cue people in one group at a time, “Ce-dar” first, “Cedar Swamp” econd, then “Swing Home”, and finally the “Cedar Swamp Fish” and then let the different instrument parts go for a while and then cue in the singing
-at the end it will end weird because we have not yet talked about how to end it, so then talk about this
-explain that at the end after we finish singing it will be like a backwards version of the beginning before we started singing; after we finish singing continue playing the parts and I will come around and cut them off one group at a time
-do this whole thing with instruments and singing adding layer by layer and then taking away layer by layer at the end

– I will be watching and listening to the students throughout to see if they are understanding the movements, words, singing, and relation of the movements to the instrument parts. If anyone seems to not understand any of these aspects then I would repeat or reiterate in some way how a certain step or concept works.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s