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Invoking the Creative Spirit in the Music Classroom

Presentation at Western University

November 2016
Dr. Carlos Abril

Let the children be their own composers.

Carl Orf
We want to enable all sorts of young people to realize that they have the right to find
[the arts] meaningful against their own lived lives.
Maxine Greene (from Releasing the

The music classroom is an ideal learning space for developing childrens musical
imaginations and creativity. How can we nurture and develop these important
mental faculties and behaviors? Participants in this session will consider this
important question through hands-on experiences with musical improvisation,
composition, problem solving, movement, and performance. Ideas for developing
a curriculum unit focused on creativity and assessing childrens creative output
will also be addressed.

Model found in: Beegle, A. & Bond, J. (2016) Orf Schulwerk: Releasing and
developing the musical imagination. In C. R. Abril & B. M. Gault (Eds), Teaching
general music: Approaches, issues, and viewpoints (pp. 25-48). New York: Oxford
University Press.

Kenyan Lullaby sung in the Kisa dialect of the Luya language by Ayub Ogada
found on the CD African Lullaby (ellpsis arts).
Listen for the sound of the Luyo Lyre.
ISBN: 1-559612-523-0

This song conjures images of night, sleep, dreams, beginnings, sharing,

and peace.
Focus: beat, form, timbre, style, attentive listening, cultural
understanding, community
Walk the steady beat (stop/go)
Clap to drum beat; walk beat to verbal instructions (stop/go)
Find new way to sound beat
Walk to drum beat; keep beat w/ a partner when drum stops
Direct attention to phrase length (8-beat phrases)
Improvise on 3-finger clap while moving to a new partner (w/
drum beat)
Echo pattern A section (snap, clap, pat, stomp)
o Ensure independence
Teacher models B section
o Find partner and do
o Perform A and B
Say and do C section w/ partner
o Combine A B C (2 xs each)
o Add the interlude section (clap improvisations)
o Challenge by mixing up the order of ABC
Focus attention on form (similarities/diferences) before listening
to song
o Ask questions to assess understanding
Listen again with the form chart
Discuss contextual background and word meaning
Learn to sing the song after multiple listenings (aural process)
Perform thoughtfully and musically
Instrumental sectionsWalk the beat and improvised snaps
A sectionsnap, clap, pat, stomp
: turn in place
B sectionback, 2, 3, 4 (snap on beat 4) : forward, 6, 7, 8 (high
five on beat 8)
C section(w/ partner) pat, clap, right, clap: left, clap, together,

Song Form



A Childrens Garden of Verses

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Movement: (circle formation holding hands) step on beat 1 of

each measure, leader of the line winds circle in and also
starts wave by lifting one arm followed by the otherthen
passes to next person.

The idea for this free
from the work of
Her book, Deep
interesting ideas about

improvisation session comes

composer, Pauline Oliveros.
Listening, provides many
and experiences for free
Sonic Meditation


Focus on any one note. When you are ready, sing that note
on any syllable for as long as you like. Breathe when you
need air. Move on to II when you are ready.


Listen to someone elses note. Sing that note on the same

or another syllable for as long as you like. Breathe when
you need air. Move on to III when you are ready.


Listen to someone elses note and think about how you

would like to relate to that note (e.g., octave lower, a third
above, a microtone below). Sing you note that purposefully
relates to someone elses. Move back to I when you are


Covering a song and music arrangement through an informal teaching
process. Arrangement heard today by Page CXVI. The music video can
be found online at:
Informal Teaching Process
(1)LISTEN (sensuous listening) DISCOVER (focused listening) SING
(2)LISTEN (directed on another aspect of music) SING
(3)LISTEN (directed on another part of the music) SING
(5)ASSESS (teacher, self or group assessment techniques using rubric)
Ive got ________ like a river
Ive got_________________________________________.
Come to the _________, it will __________ from your heart
Where _______________ wont wither, but ___________
They will ____________________________________________
Ive got _________ like an __________ (2xs)
Ive got ________________________________________________
Come to the __________, watch it flow ________________
Where your __________________________but _____________
It will __________________________________________________
Ive got joy like a _______________ (2xs)
Ive got joy like a _______________ in my ________________
Come to the __________ , where peace will flow ____________
Where your soul wont wither, but _________________
It will __________________________________________________

Peace Like a River

Lunita Lunera
Latin American Lullaby

Aims: self-discovery, awareness of musical feelings, musical

Focus: style, timbre, improvisation (music & movement), cultural
understanding, listening
Teaching Influences: Orf, Dalcroze, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy,
Multicultural Education
Explore various hand movements teach song
o Quarter moon: Tips of fingers together and twist wrist back
and forth
o Five bulls: One hand showing five fingers
o One calf: One finger
Engage students in the theme by sharing pictures of the moon
o Relate to personal experiences
o Music can tell a story about our lives
Explore non-pitched metallic instruments
o Create a sound collage to sonically represent a starry sky in
the country
o Use words to suggest sound: darkness, black, gray,
shining, sparkling, glowing, mysterious, quiet, hushed,
sleepy, slow, howling
o Move to the sounds you hear using Laban efort actions as
Use mallets to make star-shapes with your group
o Create three diferent shapes transition from one to the
o Explore various levels
o Teacher suggests ways groups can revise movement pieces
o Improvisations to movement
Teach song and instrumental accompaniment


Down by the River

African-American Game Song

Focus: composition, orchestration, improvisation, expressive

movement, rhythm
First encounters with the song
o Walk steady beat to drum; teacher sings song
o When you hear the rests, move in another direction
snap on rest create your own movement to rise
Sally rise
o Make eye contact with someone else during rise Sally
copy what the other person was doing
o Agree upon a uniform movement for rise Sally rise
o Stay with your last partner and make up a motion that your
partner can copy
Switch leader
Find new partner
o Sing the song
o Words: Meet me right here; Ri-ver, a; Come stand with me
o Mirror mallet movements transfer to instruments
Creating rhythmic patterns
o Echo the various names of rivers
o Volunteers hold up cards in any order change order
revise for greater musical interest.
o Are there any rivers that have the same rhythm as each
other? Which? (turn over card to reveal answer)
o Break up into 6 group and solve the challenge enclosed in
the envelope
o Perform as a rondo with SONG as A section
Form (Rondo)
o A = Song (Down by the River)
o B, C, D, E, = River Pieces