Thirty students in grades four and five in nine Valley/South Shore schools had a fun-filled and musically enriching day when they took part in an Orff Nova Scotia Children’s Day at Port Williams Elementary School on May 25.
The Orff Children’s Day is an opportunity for students to come together for a full day of workshops culminating in a group performance. Although held annually in Metro since 2009, this was the first time for the Valley.
Madelene Embree, music teacher at Clark Rutherford Memorial in Clementsport, has attended the Halifax event for two years with her students.
“The opportunity for children to have such a high-quality music education experience was well worth the time and effort. Spurred on by their imaginations, they learn about music and movement and also about collaborating, trying out and improving upon a concept, learning that there are many right ways of doing something, listening to and building upon each other’s ideas and mostly that life and learning anything can be joyfull”.
When the 2018 event grew to more than 80 students, Orff Nova Scotia decided that the time was ripe to hold a Children’s Day in the Valley. Vice president Jen Smeltzer asked Keshia Laffin, who had attended an Orff summer course, to see which other teachers using the Orff approach would be interested in participating. In March, music teachers Embree, Olivia Frampton, Jennifer Hieseler and Alison Sheffield joined Laffin to organize the day with the assistance of committee members from Metro. And so, just a few months later, students from their schools - Clark Rutherford Memorial, Dr. Arthur Hines, Glooscap, New Germany, New Minas, Port Williams, Three Mile Plains, West Northfield and Windsor Forks Elementary - were able to come together for a unique musical opportunity.
After a welcome/introduction time with all of the students, they were divided into three groups to rotate through workshops in recorder, vocal, mallets (xylophone), and movement. The workshops were taught by Orff specialists, Metro music teachers with advanced national Orff certification.
The theme for the day was “A Musical Fantasy.” The instructors told the children the beginning and end of the story, having them fill in what happened in the middle as they learned and created the music and movements.
“Every student who was there had a say in the direction of the story. It gave them ownership and they were so proud to present their final product at the end of the day,” said Laffin.
All of the children learned all of the parts, but what they performed was determined by the workshop they were in during the final session. As engaged parents sat in the school’s gym, each clinician narrated their part of the story as the group of students performed. The audience saw the versatility of the students as they sang, danced and the played the recorder to unfold the tale.
“It was one of the best days of my life to be around people who loved music as much as me, not just my family and friends, but other people I didn’t know,” declared Grade 4 student Port Williams student Penelope Schofield.