An Examination of Orff-Trained General Music Teachers' Use of Improvisation with Elementary School Children
In order to gain perspective on the current status and spectrum of interpretations of the Orff-styled improvisational process, this study examined teachers with three levels of Orff-Schulwerk training in their beliefs and practices concerning strategies for teaching improvisation in the elementary school general music classroom. Three participants who met the criteria of training and availability each arranged meetings with the author for two interviews and observations of at least four lessons in which they included improvisational experiences. Within this context, data were collected through the use of audio and video chronological descriptive analysis as well as a cross-case analysis were conducted. The findings demonstrated that the participating teachers (a) value improvisation and include improvisational experiences in their curricula; (b) demonstrate three similar pedagogical techniques for providing overall structure for improvisational experiences, yet utilize three different strategies for providing specific musical guidelines for the improvisations; (c) plan for improvisational experiences, demonstrating different levels of understanding of both developmental stages related to children's improvisational skill development and assessment methods for the evaluation of such skills; and (d) display three observable teacher behaviors that influence student improvisatory behavior (verbal directions, modeling, and feedback). Two distinctive teaching approaches related to improvisational goals also emerged from the data, one focused on providing opportunities for individual expression, and another that concentrated on the creation of improvisational products, which meet specific musical criteria.
Patricia Shehan Campbell