My Approach to General Music Classes
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In General Music Classes, I teach students using the Orff-Schulwerk approach in all grades.

"Orff Schulwerk is a way to teach and learn music. It is based on things children like to do: sing, chant rhymes, clap, dance, and keep a beat on anything near at hand. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later. This is the same way we all learned our language.


Orff Schulwerk happens in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of making good music with others. When the children want to write down what they have composed, reading and writing find their moment.

Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs, and dances as examples and basic materials. These may be traditional or original. Spoken or sung, they may be accompanied by clapping and stamping or by drums, sticks, and bells.

The special Orff melody instruments include wooden xylophones, metal glockenspiels, and recorders that offer good sound immediately. Played together as in a small orchestra, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants.

With Orff Schulwerk, improvisation and composition start students on a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure through personal musical experience. Learning is meaningful only if it brings satisfaction to the learner, and satisfaction arises from the ability to use acquired knowledge for the purpose of creating. For both teacher and student, Orff Schulwerk is a theme with endless variation." (American Orff Schulwerk Association)

Students begin playing the soprano recorder in Grade 4, and continue playing through grades 5 and 6, also learning alto and tenor recorders and participating in special ensembles.

Students in Grades 5-6 choose between General Music, Band, and Orchestra, as they are all scheduled at the same time. I believe strongly in the importance of playing instruments, singing, and movement; while continuing to learn the elements of music: melody, rhythm, form, improvisation, composition, composers, history, appreciation, etc.  5th and 6th Grade  General Music classes include rhythm instruments, a world drumming unit, guitar, advanced recorder, as well as singing, movement,  and playing in Orff ensembles.

Performances will be scheduled according to my school schedules, classroom teacher schedules, previous year's grade-level performances, and student readiness. They are a product of what we learn in the classroom on a daily basis. With respect to differences in beliefs of our students and their families, I schedule performances away from the December holidays.

Please feel free to visit your child's music class and participate with us! A phone call or email would help me to plan the best way for you to participate with your child's class. If you would simply like to observe, please drop in.  blakesleej@billingsschools.org
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