Music is an integral and vital component of the learning process at Pacific Primary. In 1986, Heidi Tzortzis established an active and rich music-making program, teaching the children the basics of music; utilizing song, movement and rhymes. Our beloved Heidi retired at the end of 2008, but visits from time to time. Today, our Music and Movement specialists Kevin Gerzevitz and Kate Offer continue to offer a comprehensive and wonderful music program for our children.
The program is founded on Orff Schulwerk, an active approach to teaching music, based on the premise that children are innately musical and love to sing and dance. The Schulwerk philosophy, developed by composers Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, embraces music, movement and speech as equal partners in awakening the creativity and musical potential of the child.
The Orff Schulwerk approach works to build confidence and a sense of community as children sing songs, chant rhymes and poems, play and share musical instruments, and follow or lead expressive movements in daily music class. This fostered sense of community is further enhanced as the children come together for storytime, weekly circle games, sing-alongs for the children, parents, and teachers, and folk dancing every Friday afternoon which all families are invited to attend! This end of the week ritual symbolizes our strong feeling of being one big family. One of our favorite traditional dances incorporates “holding hands and never letting go,” which helps us learn to respect and care for ourselves, our friends and our families.
The Orff approach uses instruments, both small percussion and easy-to-play barred instruments such as xylophones, to incorporate hands-on rhythmic and melodic experiences, as well as provide opportunities to share and play together.
Our rhythm games allow children to work on patterns, listening, and taking turns. The use of instruments provides opportunities to experiment with sound and work on fine motor control as an ensemble. Through dance and expressive movement, children work on maintaining awareness of their bodies and the space around them.
We sing songs from all around the world and chant rhymes and poems to explore our voices and stimulate our sense of rhyme and imagery. In addition to the daily music class, the children also meet in the late afternoon for storytime.
Through these experiences, children work toward awakening their inner rhythm and imagination, in a way that allows them to feel comfortable, and to think creatively. The approach and practice of Orff Schulwerk builds confidence and a sense of community through joyful work and play.
One of Pacific Primary’s goals is to teach children that they can make the world a better place. The children gain a deeper understanding of the world as they learn songs, stories, and dances from cultures around the world. We sing our Peace songs nearly everyday and end folk dance and sing-alongs with one of our favorite peace songs:
“Peace, peace, peace,
Peace the whole world over,
Building friendships, sharing our love,
Hold my hand and circle the earth with peace, peace, peace.”