During the early 20th century in Germany, composer Carl Orff--perhaps most famous for composing Carmina Burana—sought to create a unique approach to music education for children. He wanted to immerse the child in music through exploration and expression of both sound and movement. What became known as The Orff Schulwerk Approach combines music, movement, drama, and speech into the lessons. The Approach uses instruments that rely on rhythm and tone (e.g., marimbas, xylophones, glockenspiels, metallophones) to produce melody and encourages children to use movement to express narrative to accompany the melody.
Almost 50 years ago, DePaul University became one of the first academic institutions in the United States to introduce the Orff Schulwerk Approach to music education. Two faculty members in the School of Music who trained in Europe began offering courses as part of the music program. DePaul students who were teachers-in-training immediately saw the potential of this approach for use in American classrooms. Combining easy to use rhythm instruments capable of producing interesting melodies with components of speech and drama involved the child fully in the lesson. DePaul continues to offer classes in the Orff Shulwerk approach today.
In this project, St Vincent de Paul: Revelations in Rhythm and Rhyme, arts professionals worked with children in a local Catholic school, university faculty, and DePaul students to create a performance piece based on the life and works of St. Vincent. The participants worked together to research key events that exemplify who St. Vincent was and what he believed, focussing in particular on his works of charity.
After researching St. Vincent's life, the students represented key characteristics and events through the arts. They created "Wordles" (Word Images created on computers), tableaus (stationary images of scenes from Vincent's life using their bodies), and original musical compositions created using the Orff instruments. Two DePaul faculty (one in literacy education and one in music education), DePaul students (education majors), the Catholic school children, and the arts professionals (one well known church musical director/composer trained in Orff Shulwerk Approach, one dance professional, one digital media expert) collaborated on each stage of the final performance piece.
The students' creations were documented in digital format which can be found at the public site of http://vimeo.com/30714043.
This documentary has been used, and will continue to be used each academic quarter, in Music Methods courses as an example of integration of the arts and use of Orff Instruments.
Upon viewing the documentary, it is quite clear that the students gained a deeper understanding of the life of St. Vincent. It is also clear that they thoroughly enjoyed creating their artistic responses including the Orff chants, the Wordles, and the tableaus. Many were surprised to learn that the university located just a mile from their school is named after a saint. Others were interested in learning how myths (such as the St. Vincent captured by pirates story) can be passed down through the ages though they are not true.
This project tied together DePaul’s history of cutting edge approaches to education, our commitment to sharing the life and work of St. Vincent, our involvement with the community, and our dedication to innovative arts programming.
Consulting and Other In-Kind Services and Support provided by:
Scott Arkenberg, Music Teacher, Alphonsus Academy
Katie Mott, Classroom Teacher, Alphonsus Academy
Katia Borione, Dance Teacher, Alphonsus Academy
Megan Stanton-Anderson, Principal, Alphonsus Academy
Fathers' Club, Alphonsus Academy
Catherine Larsen, DePaul College of Education
Students in two DePaul College of Education Methods Courses
Judy Bunda, DePaul School of Music
Jim Duignan, DePaul College of Education
Jacqueline Kelly-McHale, DePaul School of Music
Allen Winczewski, DePaul Student, Graphic Design
Roxanne Owens, Project Director, DePaul College of Education
Nick Vassil, DePaul College of Digital Media student