AOSA Conference Reflections, part 1

I just returned from the American Orff Schulwerk conference in Denver, CO. Teaching music isn’t without its challenges, but music teachers have the Best. Conferences.  Ever.

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I started each day with Early Morning Song Sessions, led by past presidents of AOSA.  These were my favorite sessions of the conference!  The past presidents are all dynamic and inspiring educators, they have a presence that fills up the room and draws you in.  We sang and danced to an Argentine Joroba, harmonized and hemiola-ed to a Zulu play song, moved and sang in 4-part canon, and read some soulful feel-good choral music.  If every day could begin by singing “The Storm is Passing Over” with 50 trained musicians, I think my coffee would become unnecessary.

Over the course of the conference, I danced inside of a stretchy silver body bag, led a Chinese dragon dance (with train of people wearing a long vinyl table cloth following me!) learned a stick dance from India, sang 8 part double canons, and made silly backwards videos on my iPad.  I experienced some absolutely incredible children’s performances; trash Bands, marimba ensembles, choral groups, and more.

It is so energizing and inspiring to be around other teachers at these AOSA conferences.  Every presenter has a different strength to share.  Some are recorder gurus, some have amazing processes to teach mallet instruments, some know how to bring the dance out of the most tentative mover, and some are ethnomusicologists who collect songs and stories from all over the world.  It can be daunting to experience so much excellence.  There are so many great ideas presented, and most clinicians make it seem so easy and effortless you wonder how you could possibly be as great!  It definitely gave me some new goals for myself and my teaching!

Conference is educational, but it is also FUN!  Music teachers are mostly crazy to begin with, and Orff teachers are a special kind of crazy.  We burst randomly into improvised complimentary rhythm ostinatos, compose canons in the elevator, and don’t even blink when a clinician hands out scarf and tells you to create a water dance in five minutes GO!

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I wish I could have attended the late night folk dancing sessions, but I have become an early-to-bed person, and the 2-hour time difference didn’t help matters.

I probably could have caffeinated and sucked it up, but I was actually PRESENTING on Saturday and wanted to make sure I still had some juice left for that!  More on my presenting experience tomorrow!

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