“Orffing” around at Oak Hill Academy
~ By Pamela Momyer, M.M. Juilliard
At Oak Hill Academy, one of the best private schools in New Jersey, students receive the highest quality education and music plays a major role in that curriculum. Music education needs to be unique and top-quality as well. Children learn best when engaged, and each class experiences music through “singing, saying, dancing, playing.” In other words, these are the four foundations in which children best learn to understand and experience music as stated by Carl Orff, a renowned music educator:
“Elemental music is never just music. It is bound up with movement, dance and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate, in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer. “ Carl Orff
There are no textbooks, no notebooks, and no desks in the music room at Oak Hill Academy. Applying a full “instrumentarium” of percussion, barred instruments including glockenspiels, xylophones, metallophones and a marimba. From Pre-K through progressing grades, classes are carefully planned with fundamentals of music built in to each class. Orff philosophy is based on scaffolding. Constantly building on learned concepts that steadily move forward from the earliest learners through upper school students.
A typical class
In a typical music class, students will be learning and experiencing rhythm through activities that may involve speech, singing, body percussion (clapping, patting, etc.), transferring this physical rhythmic sensation to instruments. Ensemble playing is creates a combination of varied rhythms and instruments. Using team work to make the final product successful. Ultimately resulting in enthusiasm in music-making!
This happens time and time again at all different class levels. Primarily, Music education at top private schools, like Oak Hill Academy, is not just drills and repetition. Orff uses an immersive physical and mental activity that makes music a fully engaging and enjoyable experience for the students.