December 14, 2012
Walden School’s annual Winter Sing recently entertained and informed two packed auditoriums. Families and friends crowded into the Toby Hayward Community Room for two benefit concerts performed by Walden’s fourth through sixth graders. Under the direction of music teacher Dr. Alejandro Lazo, the children collaborated to put together an evening of music that fused singing together, listening, and learning. The Winter Sing benefited the student victims of Hurricane Sandy, specifically for elementary classrooms that lost their reading and writing workshop materials because of the damage.
Dr. Lazo uses the Orff approach in his classes at Walden School. Based on things that children like to do (singing, chanting, rhyming, dancing, keeping a beat on anything), the Orff-Schulwerk approach channels students’ instincts into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it. Looking at a journey through different decades of music, students considered the important voice and awareness that songwriters and performers bring to audiences. Sixth grader Isabella Quispe opened the show by sharing, “Music has always illustrated the way the world works, the way the world feels. You can survey the songs of a culture to find out what was happening at that time.” Eliza Zimmerman, also in sixth grade, added, “We chose these songs that we feel helped shaped the story of music today and highlight an important part of good writing. The choir will sing songs that are anthems of awareness, hope, and strength in times of crisis.”
According to the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, more than 10,000 teachers in the United States have found the Schulwerk the ideal way to present the magic of music to their students. Composer Carl Orff and his associate Gunild Keetman evolved the basic texts for the Schulwerk as models for teachers worldwide. Now translated into eighteen languages, Orff Schulwerk is based on the traditional music and folklore of each country in which it is used.
Walden School students introduced each song at the Winter Sing with thoughtful narratives highlighting parallels between songs being sung and being a good reader and writer, as well as sharing the meaning intended by each songwriter. Finding their voice and believing in themselves enough to put it on paper are the tools all writers need to tell their most compelling stories. Walden students put their talent and voices together to bring awareness to a problem they care about and compelled the audience to spark a difference by contributing to Literacy Lifeboats.