The Orff method within the self-contained special education class


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For my project, I focused on incorporating the Orff methodology within a self-contained special education class. I used musical stories to incorporate movement, response to musical ideas, creating instruments and playing them, and dramatic play into our class. The demographic of this class was made up of children ranging in age from seven to eleven with varying levels of intellectual disabilities. The students listened to a story, completed an activity and then responded to a second reading. The first story we did was “Moonglow Roll-O-Rama” by Dav Pilkey (1995). The students each created an animal mask to wear and used paper plates under their feet as roller skates. While I read the book, the students acted out the story. When it came time to roller skate I played a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 Op. 27 No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor “Moonlight” performed by Daniel Barenboim for the students to skate and react to (1987). The following class I used the book “Listen to the Rain” by Bill Martin Jr (1988). We created shakers out of paper cups, tape, and dried beans to play while reading the story. The students needed to respond to the story as it was being read. When there was a drizzle, they lightly shook their shakers. When it was pouring, they made the shakers sound as loud as possible. I was so impressed at how the students were able to respond to the music and the stories in both lessons. They were able to follow directions, complete the tasks with only a little help from me and the paras, and respond appropriately to the music and stories. They showed tremendous growth from the beginning of the school year to the day that I filmed the lesson with their ability to listen to, interpret, and react to musical ideas. In my time at Kansas State University Master’s of Music program, I have grown as a music educator in many different ways. The biggest development that I have made is incorporating more of the Orff and Dalcroze methodology into my elementary general music teaching. I had always been nervous to attempt those methods of teaching but learning more about the benefits of both methods gave me the confidence to incorporate it into my lessons. Since incorporating these methods with my students I have noticed a significant improvement in their abilities, confidence, and engagement. Another change I have made was incorporating different musical skills into the students' performances. Instead of hosting a concert where the students sing the entire time in choral style, I have started hosting an “informance” where they demonstrate sight reading, melodic training, singing, playing instruments, and movement. I even have the whole audience join in for a group folk dance to close out the concert. Without the experience I have had at Kansas State, I never would have thought of showcasing all of those different skills in a performance.



Orff, Self-contained special education, Music education

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Master of Music


School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

Major Professor

Ruth Gurgel