Drum, Dance, Play the American Way!
Chris Judah-Lauder’s workshop “Drum, Dance, Play the American Way!” was an excellent example of the true Orff teaching method: speak, pat, play. She took us through a warm up before we played the drums, beginning on our legs. Echo imitation, tremolos, discussion of tone, bass and side. We counted 1-8 then reversed adding a clap to beat 1, then beat 1 & 2 etc.. We then played a name game using first and last name then extended it by coming in whenever we wanted to.
Chris moved on to the score “Woodchuck”, breaking down the rhythms verbally, then patting, eventually playing on the 3 types of drums (low, medium, high). We then added the cabasa and cowbell and layered each in. I was able to teach this lesson to my 4th graders this week and every student was engaged and enjoyed going through the process.
The B section utilizes improvisation as they play the first 2 measures and then improvise 4 beats, beginning with high, medium, low drums and then cowbells/cabasa. The final form was Intro – A (layer in) B – A(begin together) then add a coda.(How much wood could a woodchuck! z) The extension activity would be to include a simple movement to each part.
The second part of the workshop consisted of discussing how the teacher can make it their own by using the process with any poem or song. Using “Hickory, Dickory, Dock” we familiarized ourselves first with the 6/8 meter, exploring and echoing. Girls said the poem and the boys made a sound on the rests then we switched parts. We talked about the main building blocks in 6/8 and added words to learn rhythms. Hick-o-ry became 3 eighth notes, mous-ie became 1 quarter and 1 eighth, Tick-Tock became dotted quarter. All the words we picked were relating to the poem. We added a simple shaker/stick part and cowbell on the rests. Chris asked for examples of a clock movement and we chose one and had the shaker/sticks “travel” forward/back. We created an intro/coda. For the final form we created a B section, isolating 2 measures and then improvising 2 measures.
I feel this hands-on approach and process is necessary for each student to build their confidence on their skills and their creativity.