It really depends on your needs and which space you have. In my career I've had everything from a fully-stocked dream room to a cart going room-to-room for classes. There are a few things you'll need in any space, so I'll mention those things and how to use them in various physical settings.
This is essential for good classroom control and space conservation. I like the one pictured here because its three-tier design unfolds into an Orff table where children can sit or stand and play. If you have heavier materials or more permanent materials (like speakers, a keyboard, or other electronics) that need to live on top of the table, you might want one that doesn't unfold.
Autonomous Music Room
Having your instruments in a cart saves space for dancing, small group activities, and games. It is essential that you take significant class time to teach children how to put the instruments back on the cart. You need to show the students how to
- work in buddy groups to carry and store larger instruments
- stow mallets and smaller instruments so that they are neat and organized
- put bars back on the instruments
- check instrument bars by reading the letters
- where to put f# and Bb bars
- how the larger instruments need to be stored back-to-front so that they can fit on the shelves
A multi-purpose room
The use of a cart is essentially the same as an autonomous room with the exception that you must make sure you begin clean up early enough to ensure the use of the room immediately after the lesson. Have a game ready to play if the clean up is unusually efficient.
The regular classroom
Autonomous Music Room
|Any fabric needs to be fire retardant.|
Make sure your rug has the number of circle spots equal to the maximum class size for your early elementary grades. The rug pictured here is rectangular, but I suggest an oblong rug with 25 distinct spots to sit. The oblong or circular shape really helps when playing moving circle games, square dances, and student choreography. Having the individual spots is essential for classroom management as personal space helps children be less fidgety and more physically secure.
I prefer non-musical rugs. Here is one with a map of the world and children all around. I can show students where their songs come from and some native dance costumes using a rug like this.
All Purpose Room
|leftover modular carpet is awesome!|
We have an amazing custodian, so our floor is mopped DAILY! We sit on the floor for circle games and have a wonderful time. Also, because I work in a Montessori school, we have indoor and outdoor shoes. Children usually enter my class wearing slippers. They aren't tracking dirt into the room this way. If you don't have this luxury, you may want to begin each class at tables with assigned seats and have 1-2 students put down the carpet squares as you play the opening game. That way your circle is defined for dancing and your class loses no time getting started. Choose one chatty and one model student for this job.
|E: Dance around the room, Orff on the desks|
Most classrooms have a circle carpet or gathering area, use it and use the seating chart that the classroom teacher has formulated. She knows the kids much better than you do, and her seating plan can put out behavioral fires!
You might want to invest in some carpet squares for setting up your Orff orchestra. It really depends on weather students have tables or individual desks. Older students need a place to sit where there is a chair and some kind of table surface. They need very defined spaces and they need to be seated away from friends. I like boy-girl seating for upper elementary grades.
Planning Lessons for Space
If you use Orff instruments this week, use them in all your classes. That way you are using the same vocabulary, facing the same classroom management issues (and getting better with each class) and polishing your teaching with every period. Structure the lessons the same way and work on honing your transitions.
For example: Let's say you are teaching fourth grade (classroom in picture "E") for one class and then doing 3 Kindergarten classes on a rug in their classrooms (like the rug in picture "D") It's September, so Kindergarten is learning the families of instruments (wood, metal, membranes) and you are on the woods. Load the cart with wood blocks, rhythm sticks, claves, temple blocks, and guiros and head out for class. Your basic structure of the class would be
- opening game (to concentrate the mind, not excite the body)
- memorizing a poem
- body percussion
- introduction of the instrument of the week
- review the poem both spoken and in body percussion
- playing the instrument to the poem's rhythm
- Kindergarten would transition to playing their normal array of games and fourth graders can do more complex arrangements using the new instrument, old instruments, and ostinati to make their own larger class composition.
- Perform for the teacher when she picks them up!
Planning this way means that you can make your lessons richer. Instead of a few Orff wood instruments, you can bring them all, instead of dancing using just hands, you can use scarves. You can pack individual dry erase staves, costume pieces, puppets, and other bulky items if you teach the same genre of lessons to all children.
Look at this performance by early elementary children. Movement, singing, and strong Orff instrument skills are needed to pull off a performance like this. Think about the various lessons that go into building the skills to perform this song. How would you go about it? What would you do each week? How would you pack your cart?
I used shelves for students to put their books and other materials upon entering my room. There was a teacher's desk and that was my space, no students every went back there. Students did mess with my desk and take things from it (pencils, pens, etc) but they never got any real valuables from behind the doors I made.
Classroom B seems to have a wall of bulletin boards and a perhaps a wall of white board. Younger students could face the bulletin boards which could have a felt board for icons and agenda pictures. The risers are very portable and can be converted into stages, this gives lots of flexibility with seating and small group activities. We don't see the teacher's space in this picture, but we can imagine it is behind the vantage point of the photographer.
Look at picture A at the top of this post. This classroom has loads of room and this set up looks like it would be perfect for a singing lesson or a movement lesson. The Orff instruments are not accessible to the students, they are tucked away behind the teacher's "line of scrimmage", the place where she stands and walks about.
|F: Does this room make you salivate or what?|
- Evaluate your room(s) and learn to deliniate spaces within the room
- Use a rug for classroom management and classroom routines
- Make a cart part of your instrument and material organization
- deliniate your space from student space, this helps with the teaching how to use materials and with security of personal articles