The Orff-Schulwerk of Music: "Angry Birds Baked in a Pie"!


"Angry birds baked in a pie...Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

Illustration by Randalf Caldecott (1846-1886) from Hey Diddle Diddle and Bye, Baby Bunting. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1882.

True, many of the old nursery rhymes are what we consider politically incorrect and out of style. Nowadays, it's angry birds on a hand held device who are being noticed by children playing a video game. Nowadays, it seems cruel to think of baking black birds in a pie just so the king could have a joke or two!

Photos from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

However, many educators believe that the children of today are missing out on a rich part of language development because they don't listen to and recite old fashioned nursery rhymes.

This book is available at Amazon at this link: Favorite Nursery Rhymes

Doug Goodkin, an internationally renowned Orff-Schulwerk presenter and instructor, has written many books on music and young children. He happened to be one of my instructors when I took my Orff-Schulwerk training in the 1990s and I can attest to his expertise in the field of music education. He has also been the music director at the San Francisco School since the 1970s and he has worked with children from preschool age through middle school. Here is the link to his site:

His wonderful book, A Rhyme In Time,  is chock full of great ways to introduce children to the principles of music through nursery rhymes. His books can be found at Amazon: Amazon Doug Goodkin's Page.

In his book, Doug observes:

Nursery rhymes are rich in sound; "Jack and Jill," "Lucy Locket, "Peas Porridge Hot"... all set the young speaker down the garden path of alliteration. The work of phonetics is greatly enriched by Mother Goose...the play of language comes to the forefront.
Here, Doug offers a great comparison about imagery:
Imagery: "The cow jumped over the moon...the dish ran away with the spoon"       "Five geese in a flock...sit and sing by a spring"Such delicious images in these rhymes! The young child's dreamlike world is given an even greater vibrancy by the color in these word pictures.Years later, this experience with alliteration and imagery will re-surface while reading Gerard Manley Hopkins:"...skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; moles all in stipple upon trout that swim..."Compare that to some contemporary children's songs:"Oh, you walk and you walk and you walk and you stop!""Touch your shoulders, touch your knees, raise your arms and drop them please."Gone is the fancy, the music, the poetry! The children fed on this diet will grow up to be good respectable citizens who read the newspaper, but they will miss one of the great gifts of language---its capacity to evoke fantastic imagery." (from A Rhyme in Time, Doug Goodkin)

Illustration by Randalf Caldecott (1846-1886). "And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon," from Hey Diddle Diddle and Bye, Baby Bunting. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1882.

Parents & teachers can play many musical games with young children using old fashioned nursery rhymes. Some of Doug Goodkin's ideas are:

  • Adult speaks each phrase, leaving out the rhyming word, then inviting the child to fill it in
  • Child (and adult) can "mime" the actions
  • Adult & child can sing one part and then say one part, or match gestures (ex: arm high/low) and sing/say the words in a high then a low voice
  • The text can be transferred to rhythm instruments or to body percussion
  • You can create a new text
  • Create a new text in another language!
  • Turn the whole thing into a movement activity (ex: hop to the words of one part of the rhyme, then tiptoe for another part)

There will probably be many fun ideas that your child comes up with all on her own, too!

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Modeling the Love of Music: Parents and Scaffolding Learning!


Do you know who your child's first and most important teachers are? 

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club.

Parents, grandparents and primary caregivers! 
Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The child pictured here is copying the modeling provided by the adult in this fun music activity of playing maracas. The happy child is being held in the adult's arms. This loving support happens to be a foundation of the scaffold of learning that this child is experiencing. 

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

"Modeling" to a child how to do something has always been a teaching tool and parents often do this spontaneously. These "teachable moments" occur daily in the lives of families with young children. This is often referred to as part of the process of "educational scaffolding". 

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club
Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Here's a definition of scaffolding learning:

"Instructional Scaffolding"
Instructional scaffolding is a learning process designed to promote a deeper learning. Scaffolding is the support 
given during the learning process which is tailored to the needs of the student with the intention of helping the student 
achieve his/her learning goals (Sawyer, 2006).
Instructional scaffolding is the provision of sufficient support to promote learning when concepts and skills are being 
first introduced to students. These supports may include the following.
Use of instructional scaffolding in various contexts:
  • Modeling a task
  • Giving advice
  • Providing coaching
These supports are gradually removed as students develop autonomous learning strategies, thus promoting their own 
cognitiveaffective and psychomotor learning skills and knowledge. 

From Kindermusik International,  the following is an outline of the musical profile of preschoolers. By having fun with these activities together, families can help children develop important skills.

  • Developing beat awareness
  • Matching beat to external sound source 
  • Becoming increasingly successful with the rhythm and tone of songs
  • Beginning to sing accurately 
  • Differentiating between the singing and speaking voice
  • Beginning to understand musical concepts of:
                           Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius (from Carolyn's Magical Movement Company archive)

Great games can be created by singing or chanting a familiar song with a change of dynamics each time.  Helping the child to develop these skills at his/her own pace is something parents can do while "modeling" and just plain having fun.
Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius Photography (Carolyn's Archives)

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius (from Carolyn's Magical Movement Archive)

Here you can see a mom and daughter making a sock puppet together in summer music camp at the Muse in Willits, CA. Later, the mother/daughter puppets can "sing" and "play games" together. A fun way to scaffold learning!

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Music & Movement Go Together: "We All Fall Down"!


Why do young children love games that incorporate falling down and getting back up?

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's Archives

These photos show "The Carousel Game" in Summer Music Camp: Up and down then we all fall down!

              Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's Archives

 "Rat-a-tat-tat" building the carousel back  up again!

Foundations of Learning from the Kindermusik International  curriculum, offers one answer to the question of why children love falling down games so much:
As young toddlers have the physical experience of falling down and then getting back up, a significant emotional event occurs as well. They are encountering and overcoming a fear of imbalance, and are developing confidence in their physical skills. From, The Emotional Life of the Toddler, by Alicia F. Lieberman, we learn: "Bodily movements often carry strong psychological meanings. With young children in particular, motion conveys emotion more powerfully than words. In the second year of life, motion is centered on the achievement of balance, and the risk of losing this balance becomes a central concern. Physical balance stands as a symbol for emotional balance in child play as well as in adult imagery."

                            Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's Archives

Throughout early childhood, children continue to enjoy "falling down" games. Even older children love to incorporate "falling down and jumping back up" into pretend play. One of the favorite games in the 3-5 year old curriculum from Kindermusik is the song about the jack-in-the-box:
(The children start out by crouching down inside their pretend boxes and the adult begins by winding up the pretend crank on the boxes)
The Jack-in-the-box jumps up (children jump up)
The Jack-in-the-box goes flop (children fall down)
The Jack-in-the-box goes round and round (children stand again and wobble around)
The lid goes down with a plop! (children fall down again)

                                        Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius from Carolyn's Archives

There are so many motions that help children continue to develop a sense of balance and self confidence. Here is a list of ways to move from Kindermusik's Movement Chart. A wonderful benefit is the vocabulary development that comes from using these fun words.
Add some great descriptive words like:
high/low/in the middle
on balance/off balance

If you run out of fun movements here are some interesting ideas:

Have fun playing and moving and singing and grooving!

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