Our Success Stories

Educator: Katherine Charleville, music teacher and Spanish instructor
School: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta School (Ferguson, MO)
Program: St. Louis Ocarina Pilot Program
Duration: October-May

Katherine Charleville piloted an ocarina program as an attempt to link culture and music. In addition to being the music teacher she also teaches Spanish at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. “We were learning about the culture of Latin America, including the music, and this was a great way to incorporate aspects we had learned in our readings. I always incorporate some kind of Latin American or Spanish culture into my music classes and this was such a fun, unique way to do that. ”

Strategy

Charleville participated in the program with her 6th grade class who had studied the recorder in both 4th and 5th grades. “This was a great way to continue their note reading skills on a new instrument, ” stated Charleville. Students met twice a week for an hour at a time.

Tactics

Charleville used STL Ocarina ‘s complimentary lesson plans, along with her own curriculum, to seamlessly relate ocarinas to their Spanish curriculum. Since the students had previously been exposed to recorder, Charleville also utilized their old Recorder Karate music. We would usually spend two class times on each newly introduced note. After that, the students had the opportunity to take their music and ocarinas home to practice individually. Then we would have quizzes in which students would play a learned song solo or in small groups.

Results

Charleville stated, “My students were so excited to learn to play their ocarinas, therefore, they were more motivated to study music and practice. Their enthusiasm was really worth it. We were able to learn music to play at our school’s end of the year concert and talent show. Students were able to match pitch and produce good tone consistently. Compared to recorder, ocarina was easier for students to hold and allowed them to more easily pick up fingers. The tone was much nicer on the ocarinas as well, a warmer, and more mellow sound. ”

Future

Charleville has been really impressed with student’s musical progress when learning ocarinas and plans to continue the ocarina program with this year’s students when they return as 7th graders in the fall. She also plans to begin with a new batch of 6th graders in the upcoming 2015-2016 school year.

Henry Raab Elementary Creates Ocarina Ensemble

Educator: Amy Hettenhausen, band director
School: Henry Raab Elementary (Belleville, IL)
Program: St. Louis Ocarina Pilot Program
Duration: October-May

Band director Amy Hettenhausen saw the ocarina as an inexpensive way to further develop the musical skills of her students at Henry Raab Elementary in Belleville, IL. She was thrilled to offer an additional musical opportunity to students in a high poverty school. She was also hoping to spark a love for instrumental music and help raise band enrollment for the following school year. Due to high costs of instrument rental there were no students currently enrolled in 5th grade band prior to starting an ocarina program.

Strategy

Hettenhausen tested the ocarina method with her 5th grade students hoping to encourage band enrollment for the upcoming school year. The class consisted of 19 students who met with Hettenhausen once a week for only 30 minutes.

Tactics

Hettenhausen used the lesson plans provided by STL Ocarina to help get her students started with ocarina. “I also used a lot of rote teaching and peer demonstration, ” stated Hettenhausen who also says that students were eager to volunteer and show off their skills. “Students were playing simple, familiar folk songs and matching pitch within two class periods.’

Results

Hettenhausen believes this program allowed her students to have a “real instrument learning experience” and that it was “a great step up from the recorder. ” While it is too soon to tell if band enrollment will be affected for next year, many students have asked if they could play ocarina in the band. Hettenhausen states that the biggest benefit of the ocarina program was the student’s excitement about the instrument and about learning music. After the class unit ended, HALF of the participating students insisted on continuing with ocarina. These eager ocarina enthusiasts voluntarily gave up their lunch recess to rehearse in the school’s first ever ocarina ensemble. Students performed each other’s compositions and created unique arrangements for ocarina and percussion. The ensemble even performed a concert at the end of the year for faculty and peers.

Future

Per the students’ request, Hettenhausen plans to continue the ocarina program and voluntary ocarina ensemble at Henry Raab Elementary for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year. “They ask me about ocarina every time they see me. We will continue as their enjoyment makes the program worthwhile.”

Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts finds unique alternative for beginners

Educator: Robert Yaple, band director and general music teacher
School: Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts (Chicago, IL)
Program: St. Louis Ocarina Pilot Program
Duration: October-January

Robert Yaple, band director and music teacher at Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts in Chicago, was one of our invaluable partnering educators throughout our pilot stages.  Mr. Yaple is a prolific and established musician in his own right and has just completed his first year integrating ocarinas into the fourth grade curriculum at AACA.

“As a clarinet player, I was curious about the instrument.  My intrigue into the world of ocarina was reflected by my students, and together we had a journey full of growth and musical exploration,” says Yaple.

After years of teaching recorder, Yaple was looking for a fresh way to make instrumental music accessible for beginners. “The recorder sometimes gets a bad reputation from students, parents and teachers alike,” states Yaple, “Starting with ocarina feels like starting with a blank slate.  There is less bias from the start.”

Strategy

Yaple tested the ocarina method with his fourth grade students, hoping to build transferrable skills that would build towards playing future band instruments. Yaple had two separate sections of fourth graders with 26 students in each class. Each class met with Yaple two times per week.

Tactics

Using lesson plans provided by STL Ocarina, along with his own curriculum, Yaple seamlessly integrated ocarinas into the fourth grade music curriculum. “Pedagogically speaking, all of the same folk melodies and rhythm exercises that I use for teaching recorder and xylophone still apply to ocarina. Being a C instrument, I was easily able to incorporate ocarinas into an Orff-Schuwerk xylophone piece, with students taking turns playing mallet percussion and ocarina.”

Results

Yaple says his students loved learning a new instrument and took on ocarina with 100% effort. ”The ocarina is an inexpensive instrument that provides learning opportunities for young musicians. Even more than the recorder, the size, shape, and durability of the ocarina is perfectly suited for classroom use. Many students and parents found the timbre of the ocarina to be less abrasive than that of the recorder, which can be an important factor for students still developing mastery of covering tone holes correctly. The ocarina also has the advantage of being less common in school music programs and my students found this to be alluring.”

Future

Yaple plans to continue the ocarina program at AACA stating that the opportunity has led to a meaningful musical experience for everyone involved.

Science Teacher instructs school’s first music class

Educator: Thomas Arnott, science teacher
School: YES Prep Brays Oaks (Houston, TX)
Program: St. Louis Ocarina Pilot Program
Duration: October 2014 – Present

Thomas Arnott, science teacher at YES Prep Brays Oaks in Houston is one of our invaluable partnering educators.

” I started an ocarina program because I wanted my students to be able to experience the joy of learning to play music. My school did not have any music programs until my ocarina program. The ocarina is interesting to children yet relatively simple to play, so I knew that students would enjoy it, ” states Arnott.

Strategy

Arnott tested the ocarina program with 20 students. They met once a week after school only. Arnott wanted to see if his ocarina program could help convince his administration to offer music as a daily class for the upcoming school year.

Tactics

”We began playing songs almost immediately, within the first two lessons. Granted, they were simple songs like ”Mary Had a Little Lamb”, but students feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to apply even the most basic knowledge. Now we are studying much more advanced sheet music, and we have come a long way”

Results

Ocarina was the first instrument Arnott has ever taught, but said it was fairly easy to master and teach the basics. ”Student enthusiasm for ocarina was very high and parents love our performances! My group regularly performs at our Honor Roll Ceremonies, and at other school functions. &rdquo

Future

Arnott petitioned his school to offer music during the day as a class, instead of only holding it after school where they were forced to compete with tutorials. ”I was successful in this, and now I will be able to teach the ocarina to my students next year as a daily class! This is important to me because I believe that music education helps students in both their emotional and academic development. ”

Brent CareySuccess Stories