I’m just back from the excellent MERYC 2017 Conference in Cambridge, where experts from across the world met to share their findings on Early Years Music. They considered what the unborn baby hears inside the womb, how children engage with music during their first few years and how this develops with the help of skilled practitioners.
Ocarinas are simply the BEST! Fact.
The evidence is grounded in 34 years of Whole Class Music-making:
The plastic Oc® received the highest accolade of “Best Music Education Product” in the 2015 Music Teacher Awards For Excellence. Three decades of continuous development, rethinking, redesigning, retooling and remaking has brought this musical instrument to the pinnacle of its creation. It remains UK-made under the watchful eye of David and Christa Liggins, whose teaching expertise keeps the needs of both the child in the classroom, and the class teacher, in sharp focus. David and Christa’s child’s-eye-view on the playing of the instrument and their teacher’s-eye-view of methodology give a perspective that has created robust, musical instruments with ready-prepared teaching materials.
The rationale for teaching with Ocarinas can most easily be described by the acronym ‘KISS’. The KISS Principle, or ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’, (Rich, 1995) maintains that most systems work best when kept simple, not complicated.
The principle is exemplified by the story of a team of American design engineers who were given a handful of tools, with a challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only these tools. Hence, ‘stupid’ describes how things can go wrong, and the level of sophistication needed in fixing them.
We invited Christa Liggins, modern language teacher and director of Ocarina Workshop, to explain how her teaching work inspired her learning model…
My modern foreign language classes buzz with the sound of spoken German. Children confidently handle inflexion and vocabulary, ready to converse with a ‘sympathetic native speaker’ as required for GCSE oral. Visual stimuli – pictures, objects, actions – elicit words, questions, phrases, and even new grammatical structures; inhibitions are lost as students are immersed in an increasingly-familiar language.