Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

I ate today - out at restaurants. I needed nourishment and I'm sick of that grocery store. Went to lunch with some Americans and Carrie from Ireland. Had a big plate of spaghetti. Billy wanted pepperoni on his pizza and had a real hard time figuring out what it is. They brought him one with toadstools, which he doesn't eat. Dinner with the Aussies. It seems like they have it the most together music ed wise of any of the countries I've had a chance to talk to folks about. But it sounds like their teacher's union sucks - not grieving really massive changes of working conditions. Hooray for the VT-NEA!

Today's classes were similar in content and approach to yesterday's. I did get to use some Orff instruments. At one point I checked out a small Studio 49 rotary timp and decided I like my rototoms better. The activity itself was rather crude, but people who had never laid hands on an Orff instrument before were encouraged to explore the full gamut of sound making possibilities. I heard some really interesting sounds as a result - things I never would have thought of, perhaps because I know a little too much about Orff to consider possibilities with fresh eyes and ears. One woman, I believe from Turkey, reversed her Studio 49 felt mallets and scraped the bars of of metalophone for a sort of metallic guiro sound.

I am going to try to keep this post short and to the point, partly because I am tired, but also because I starting to draw some important conclusions about the Summer International Course, as well as the Orff Institut and the basic style of doing things here.

This experience is a good one if you have you have your three levels and maybe more. You have to be well grounded in process (curriculum helps too) as well as a lot of nuts and bolts type stuff. They simply don't do that stuff in this course, so I don't believe it is effective for novices except as a rough introduction. On the other hand I am as I said yesterday finding good opportunities to push my musical skills and comfort level (especially movement) to a new place, enhancing my musicianship in elemental music in a manner complementary to my American training. It is also reinforcing my understanding of Orff philosophy by restating it in a fresh way.

You also need to approach the experience with an open mind because the teaching is not what you are used to from the levels. The teaching is looser, taking you places without giving you all of the steps you might need to have in order to learn the material. Soili Perkio's work strikes me as an exception to this statement. If you are quick to judge, it would be easy to miss the goodness of the experience.

In fact I have have met grumblers already. They characterized by high level of training in Orff or Kodaly. In fact one person has already left (Kodaly trained.) I worry that the looseness of the approach here might not make a good representation of the totality of the Schulwerk - it is the peculiar variety we are finding in this time and place.

I went back for a second dose of the optional evening folk dancing. I want to squeeze everything I can out of this experience, especially movement.