Reviews and pictures from our day with Catherine West!

For those looking for literacy connections in Arts Education, the educators attending Catherine West’s workshop Once Upon an (Orff) Time in Regina on September 25th when home with a wealth of ideas to use! Every activity connected to a book, story or myth and had us up participating (the Orff way!), experiencing the songs, drama and dances as our students would.

Catherine began the day with a 2-part body percussion rhythm with “Hi” as part of the rhythm. After several different ways of practicing it, she asked us to store it in our “memory banks” for later.

She then reminded us of the story of Rumplestiltskin, reviewing the main ideas and refreshing our memories of this classic tale. Using ideas from Three Rapping Rats by Kaye Umansky, Catherine suggested a name game with a patsch/clap beat to use early in the year to reinforce learning names of students in the class.

Using the idea of the Miller’s daughter need to spin straw into gold, we each created a spinning movement. Through the use of three hula hoops, she conducted us by stepping into the hoops. One hoop was for our stationary spinning movement; in the second hoop our spinning movement could move to another spot in the room; the third hoop gave us 6 counts to freeze into a shape. Catherine then had some participants select non-pitched percussion instruments that she had placed in the three hoops. Each hoop stood for something from the story: one was the straw (with maracas, rattles, etc.); the second was the spinning (guiro, soprano xylophones, etc.); the third hoop was the gold (triangles, bell tree, finger cymbals, etc.) She then had a “student” conductor lead us through the 3 hoops in order, with the appropriate instruments by half of the group and movement by the other half.

Using a bass xylophone tremolo on F in the chorus and on C for the verse, Catherine then taught us Kaye Umansky’s words to I Can Spin Moonbeams to the tune of Oranges and Lemons.

Adding drama with the characters the Miller, his daughter, the King, Rumplestiltskin and guards, the story was acted out with the spinning sound/movement, the name game, and the song interspersed. This was an excellent idea for grades 2 and 3.

The next idea involved the Greek myth of Icarus and Daedalus, suitable for about grade 6. Catherine led us through the composition of a modal melody, using the Dorian mode. Asking us which one was the “funny note”, we wrote an 8 beat melody starting and ending on the tonic, but using the “funny note” somewhere in our pattern. We then played the labyrinth game with one monster and four victims running through lines of people with arms out, fingers touching. When we heard the cymbal, each person in the line moved ¼ turn, so the lines suddenly went a different direction, causing problems for the monster and victims as they chased through the maze! We then added maracas and tambourines representing the movement of each of the victims.

Catherine also taught us the Greek dance Tsankonikos, which emphasized a 5/4 metre, and also the Danai Gagne song called One By One, in 7/8 time. Finally, a simple but beautiful Alice Pratt arrangement of the Langston Hughes poem Hold Fast to Dreams completed our music and dance selections for this myth. Following a script Catherine provided, we acted out the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, interspersing the songs, games and dance.

To make a visual art connection to this myth, Catherine showed us a print of Landscape With the Fall of Icarus by Brueghel, having us look for Icarus in the picture. She then shared some poetry based on the painting and suggested writing/journal extension activities. This upper elementary idea incorporated all 4 strands of Arts Education! This concluded an outstanding morning of professional development!

By Shelly Mooney


Following lunch and a brief AGM, Catherine continued to delight us with
two more pieces of literature as the impetus for the Orff process. The
first book, entitled "Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock", by Eric Kimmel,
tells an African story of Anansi the spider. Anansi has his own theme
song, which is based on the folk melody, Kokoleoko, and, as he makes his
way through the jungle, Anansi sings about not wanting to work. Instead,
he tricks his friends with a magical rock which causes the observer to
faint. Various non-pitched as well as body percussion are suggested to
represent the moss-covered rock, falling down, waking up and walking
through the forest. Grades 1 to 4 children will undoubtedly enjoy
taking turns acting out the story of Anansi and his friends, and
alternately playing the sound effects on the instruments.

The next literary selection, "Max Found Two sticks", by Brian Pinkney,
is a charming picture book which can be used at the primary and the
junior grade levels. Due to the technically challenging xylophone
playing in this arrangement, Catherine suggests that the instruments are
played by the older students, and the younger grades could participate
as actors in the presentation. The story of Max and his "found"
instruments, including twigs, a hat box and some soda bottles, is
punctuated by non-pitched percussion instruments, each representing one
of these new musical treasures. The marching band has a wonderful
xylophone orchestration, called "Allegro", from the Margaret Murray Ed.
of "Music For Children", Volume 1. What a treat!

The grand finale of Catherine's excellent workshop was "The True Story
of Jack and the Whale: A Model for Developing Musical Story-Drama". 
Beginning with a piece of artwork by David Blackwood entitled, "Fire
Down on the Labrador", this session presented a model for teachers to
help a class both create and prepare a music-drama. Students are shown
a painting as a unit catalyst, and then, in small and large groups, they
create a story to accompany the art, and then choose music and movement
to enhance the presentation. They are also guided to develop narration,
dialogue and role-plays, all of which become part of the story-drama. 
This open-ended method of teaching music and drama, based on visual art,
is a terrific example of integrating the arts with other subject areas.
In the case of this painting and its' subject matter of 19th century
whaling, this could include student research and the study of related
science or social studies topics.

A huge "Thank You" to Catherine West for an outstanding Fall Workshop!

by Nancy Sparling