SongWorks in Action at ODU: Student Reflections

by Betty Phillips

August 2023

After their Level 1 Certification Course, SongWorks in Action students shared their reflections on a week of deep learning and engagement with SongWorks Principles and Practices.

From Left to Right: (Row 1) Kylie Decker, Sandy Murray, Betty Phillips, Kayla Buchanan; (Row 2) Molly Feigal, Rachel Gunderson, Max Mellman, Kathy Walton; (Row 3) Jake Harkins, Debanhi Garcia, Rebecca Hahn; (Row 4) Susan Winterbottom-Shadday, Rubi Lichauco, Taryn Raschdorf, Carrie Green; (Row 5) Spencer Thornton
Visit our Instagram page (@songworksed) to see highlight reels from the summer certification course at Old Dominion University!

Carrie Green

I was deeply moved by so many aspects of the SongWorks: Level 1 certification course. It is very much a holistic approach to music education that is as rewarding to students as it is to the educator. Watching a LIVE class filled with elementary students interact with our instructor in a real-time series of unrehearsed model lessons was magical. The pedagogy of SongWorks and the principles that inform it were immediately evident in how the students responded and progressed each day. I have never seen a program of study offer such a window into the learning process, not since my university days during the observation/practicum experience.

The act of making music with my peers in its signature playful manner—with such kind, knowledgeable instructors who led truly vibrant lessons—also made for an extremely creative and satisfying experience, one that my professional side appreciated immensely. Through the songs and activities introduced, I have many new layers of the musical experience and various levels of engagement to explore with my students now—whether it be language, social/emotional, aesthetic, among others. It was, however, my inner child—the one that most closely relates to our students—whose heart was made very happy this past week. I would enthusiastically recommend SongWorks to all my music educator peers, and I am definitely signing up for the second level certification course next year.

Rubi Lichauco

I enjoyed the course and I don’t think it should be limited to music teachers. Paraprofessionals and preschool teachers will benefit as well. Being in small groups and practicing how to unfold a song as well as writing reflections every night were useful and helped me apply what I learned and synthesize the information.

My biggest “aha!” moments were learning how to unfold a song using modes of performance, brevity in giving directions, and asking a question before singing the song to give the students a focus for listening! The art of unfolding a song is happening in my classroom and my kids love it. They are engaged and can’t wait to participate. The preschool teachers are equally in awe of the process of unfolding a song. You can use one song and apply all the performance modes applicable to early childhood learners: chinning, inner hearing, antiphonning, movement, music mapping, ideographs and pictographs, to one song! It is efficient! Repetition becomes a magical experience using the different modes of teaching.

SongWorks has no recipe. It is easily applicable and so accessible. I also appreciate how the holistic approach touches on the pedagogy of SongWorks as it relates to the students and teachers. The principles of SongWorks are embedded in every activity presented.

Spencer Thornton

The SongWorks pedagogy is a playful and vibrant pathway to education through song—not just music. This was absolutely fascinating to see. Out of all my previous certifications in varied music education approaches, I had never seen any of them offer anything so enriched such as this.

I noticed that games were presented to the students’ current age, stage, and phase of development…learning was layered to where multiple skills were employed simultaneously. Almost as a review of “already known” skills and a precursor to the unfamiliar. The scaffolding of each was simply breathtaking to witness.

Prior to my SongWorks certification, I was in wonder of how to assist my students in physically showing the expressive components and form of recorded music. I would find myself modeling it for them, even explaining in some sort of way how they should move with recorded classical music, but nothing would help. By coming to SongWorks and witnessing the different levels of song mapping I discovered the missing piece to the puzzle.

SongWorks has changed my outlook on how I deliver instruction and expectations. It has provided me with teaching strategies that are vetted and will increase student learning. I feel more confident in having a way to service all of my students and the whole child. I am eager to infuse this pedagogy into my music curriculum with that of Kodály, Feierabend, World Music Pedagogy, and Orff Schulwerk approaches to music education.

Kathy Walton

I love to play games in class. Often it is a play party game or an established game with a song. SongWorks has shown me that I need to sequence my games from small movement to larger, more involved movement with simple, brief instructions in order to be successful. The other thing about games is that they are not divorced from the musical or social concept that is being highlighted in that lesson.

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