The best Orff style music resources for music teachers.

Beatin' Path Publications, LLC

Wuytack and Melody, a Review of Musica Activa

29 Sep 2018 15:57

Musica Activa - An Approach to Music Education - Volume 2, Melodic Expression, just published in March of this year (46 years after it was written),  is a definitive text in the world of Orff Schulwerk. To put this book in context, Gunild Keetman wrote Elementaria, also an essential text, in 1970 with the English translation by Margaret Murray in 1974. Musica Activa, Volume 2 was written in 1972 but translated by Judy Sills in 2018. (Musica Activa, Volume 1 - Rhythmic Expression was also written in 1972 but translated and published in 1995.)
Musica Activa - Volume 2 Musical Expression by Jos WuytackMusica Activa, Vol. 2 focuses on melody. Wuytack presented this material in level courses and master classes around the country from 1971 until 2011. His master classes were essentially focused on five main elements of music and pedagogy (melody, harmony, timbre, form, rhythm) and how they can be defined and expanded in the Orff approach. The two most important elements in Wuytack's view were melody and rhythm. The remaining elements are important yet corollary.

Musica Activa, an important text, should be in every teacher's library. Not only does it present an expanded explanation of the pedagogy of melody, but it also includes 57 beautiful orchestrations of songs and dances for use in elementary classroom or as models for composition and improvisation. These orchestrations are organized in the order of the melodic concepts being presented with two examples of everything from bitonic through all the diatonic modes including Lydian and Mixolydian. 
Each chapter begins with an essay describing the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the concept presented (Phenomenology of Melody, Ontogenesis of Melody, The Pentatonic System, and the Modes) followed by examples. The final chapter, however, is the gem. Titled Activation Techniques for Melody, Wuytack lays out basic techniques and strategies for teaching melodic concepts, everything from audiation to visualization, improvisation to composition. 
Melody is the most characteristic element of music. It is usually the predominant part of a composition, It catches our ear, and it is melody that we retain most easily. True melody, as a means of expression, shares emotion, sentiment, and soul. It is with melody, specifically melodic intervals, that we express our true inner beauty. 
For more information please visit

Master Class returns to the Memphis Summer Orff Institute

22 May 2018 21:43

In the summer of 2017, I had just completed my teaching for the summer and got a phone call from Heather Klossner, the Orff course director for the Memphis Summer Orff Institute. She asked me to teach a Master Class in Orff Schulwerk that reflected the heritage of the Memphis Orff course, specifically the artistic vision of Jos Wuytack. I accepted and have just finished my preparations and am absolutely looking forward to the opportunity. 
The course will be an overview and expansion of everything that was presented in Levels 1, 2 and 3 plus lots of discussion and exploration. The Levels courses segment specific tasks and concepts. In this class all of the various elements will be experienced  in a continuum. We will also have the freedom to explore areas of interest and focus on concepts and techniques of interest to the class.
 Jos's two wonderful books titled Musica Activa - Rhythm and Musica Activa - Melody deal with these two elements thoroughly. We'll review these elements in the class by using the two books as a text.  There are, of course, several elements not dealt with in those two fine volumes including Harmony and Timbre. As my preparations progressed it became clear that this is where I should spend most of my time and effort in preparations. Jos presented an expanded version of the Schulwerk that will provide us much material and grist for study, composition and improvisation. (see my previous post on functional harmony.)
For fifty years, The Memphis Summer Orff Institute has focused on the pedagogy of Carl Orff through the particular lens of Jos Wuytack, who worked alongside Orff in adapting both the original Flemish and French Musik für Kinder Volumes.  Throughout his career, Wuytack sought to update Orff’s pedagogy, extending the models available to include human and cultural diversity and adapt to the rapidly changing world in which we live.  All of Jos’s pedagogical ideas are thoroughly grounded in Carl Orff’s work and follow the outline originally put forth in the five volumes of Musik für Kinder.  
The timeless character of the Schulwerk lies in its quality of being elemental and pre-artistic. For Carl Orff the models in his five volumes make an inexhaustible arsenal of elementary musical and speech forms. An certainly, the resulting system is a well planned progression. The type and nature of the models are determined by sensing the state of the child’s awareness and the stages of his mental growth.  
But this timeless power does not exclude the possibility of a free and creative adaptation for the present day. Exactly the opposite is true. The model character of the Schulwerk demands as a principle that the examples be constantly reworked in improvisation and in re-creation! [Jos Wuytack. Updating Carl Orff’s Educational Ideas? Master Class notes, 1995]
Points of Focus
How did Jos encourage the adaptation of Orff Schulwerk to different countries and cultures around the world? Why did he view this as an important component of his work?
How did Jos expand Orff Schulwerk to become relevant to North America’s cultural diversity?
How did Jos draw connections between the world of classical music and Orff Schulwerk?

In building on the original five volumes of Musik fur Kinder, what did Jos add to the Orff canon concerning Melody, Rhythm, Form, Harmony, and Timbre?
If you've ever studied Orff Schulwerk with Jos Wuytack, Konnie Saliba, Shirley McRae, or Nancy Ferguson, this Master Class would be very interesting for you. Come join us in Memphis during the week of July 9 - 13.

What is Elemental Harmony?

4 May 2018 20:42

The idea of Elemental Harmony has been a source of discussion among practitioners of Orff Schulwerk since its inception. Various pedagogues, teachers, Orff geeks, and authors have attempted to define and codify this elusive concept since the beginnings of Orff Schulwerk in the 1920's. In the course of my preparations for an Orff masterclass at the University of Memphis this summer, I've had cause to think about this and how it might be presented in this context. Here follows an essay on Elemental Harmony that is the prelude to the chapter on Harmony in Orff Schulwerk. Feel free to comment and discuss!

When considering the idea of accompaniment, we are touching on one of the original intents of Orff Schulwerk. At the very beginning, there was a desire in the Guntherschule for students to be trained in playing technique and improvisation on instruments. Because the school was for dance and music, the idea of students creating and playing music in the elemental style as accompaniment for dance was essential.

The Orff instrumentarium was developed specifically because the instruments chosen were playable by students as they accompanined their own dances and songs. Later the instrumental activies included conducting as well. The instruments also lent themselves easily to  the style of music invented by Carl Orff around 1924 for the piano. He called this Elemental Music. It is in this style that the Orff Schulwerk developed and evolved, culminating in the five volumes of Music for Children by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, adapted by Margaret Murray published between 1950 and 1954.

In volume one of Music for Children, the drone and ostinato combine to create a unique accompaniment style that evolved into the modern bordun. Keetman described these accomaniments in Elementaria, published in 1974.

“It is best at first to use neutral accompaniments (main notes: tonic or key note, fifth or octave above, with even, continuous rhythms) that can be varied later through the inclusion of other notes.”  [Elementaria, page 63]

Carl Orff described the drone accompaniments in The Schulwerk.

“The drone is the most important and most widely found form of part singing and playing.  While one voice provides the melody the other sustains one note, the key note or fundamental note, either above or below the melody.  This is the prototype of our pedal note.  This drone develops itself in two directions,  first by sustaining a chord consisting of fundamental, fifth and octave, like bagpipes or hurdy-gurdy, and second in that the drone moves between a limited number of notes like an ostinato, the so-called  ‘wandering drone’ [after Curt Sachs]”  [The Schulwerk page 28].

These original writings, including Music for Children, left out any further detailed explanations of elemental harmony. In Elementaria, Keetman provides many examples of this style of accompaniment and lots of detail about instrument technique and performance, but very little detail is given about Elemental Harmony.

In 1991, Jos wrote an essay titled, “Updating Carl Orff’s Educational Ideas.” He outlined the importance of the Schulwerk as  containing a “timeless power.”

“The timeless character of the Schulwerk lies in its qualityof being elemental and pre-artistic. For Carl Orff the models in his five volumes make an inexhaustible arsenal of elementary musical and speech forms."

But this timeless power does not exclude the possibility of a free and creative adaptation for the present day. Exactly the opposite is true. The model character of the Schulwerk demands as a principle that the examples be constantly reworked in improvisation and in re-creation. [Updating Carl Orff's Educational Ideas, 1991]

Later in the same essay, Jos makes the point that not every teacher can understand elemental harmony just by score analysis and playing through the published models with their students. Jos thought it important to try and expand and codify exactly what was happening in the five volumes, breaking out the components and providing much more detailed explanations of each aspect of elemental harmony. Jos felt that a strong connection should be kept between his work and the original work of Carl Orff, but in order to be a growing and viable educational practice, Jos expanded Orff’s principles to include extensions to jazz, rock, pop, serial music, electronic and aleatoric music, creating new models for teaching and learning. When Jos expanded the basic tenents of Elemental Music to include models in the cultural styles of music making throughout the world, He was following Orff’s strong advice.

Every phase of Schulwerk will always provide stimulation for new independent growth; therefore it is never conclusive and settled, but always developing, always growing, always flowing. [Carl Orff quoted in Updating Carl Orff's Educational Ideas, 1991]

Art, Music, and Children's Lit. A Winning Combination!

20 Feb 2018 01:06

Painted Music 

Integrated Art, Music, and Children's Literature Activities
BPP-APM - Book with Online materials - $29.95
Look at a Preview
When Aimee Curtis Pfitzner first approached me regarding her third publication, she impressed me with her total commitment and enthusiasm for a new project integrating art, music, and children's literature. Her idea was to incorporate works from artists like Piet Mondrian, Romare Bearden, Wasily Kandinsky, Dale Chihuly and more to illustrate and illuminate favorite children's books like Coppernickel Goes Mondrian, and The Noisy Paint Box. She also uses music from Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk, Claude Debussy, Frank Sinatra and others as the basis for full length Orff process lesson plans for songs, activities and more children's lit like Du Iz Tak? and original activities like Channeling Chihuly.

The result, Painted Music, is a fantastic new resource for elementary music teachers using art and music to activate children's literature. Aimee has chosen several of her favorite children's books and has added art activities, songs, and Orff instrument arrangements. Each activity has a complete Orff process lesson plan along with material lists, recommended art works for viewing and listening selections. 
Making connections to music and art through children’s literature is a natural connection; books can be found on a plethora of subjects, in a dizzying array of genres and are rich in artistry; full of amazing illustrations, paintings, computer art, and 3-dimensional artwork. This collection is a short brush stroke on the canvas of arts and literature integration. The hope is that teachers will be able to  make new connections using the books on these pages and seek out other books to create new art, music, and literature activities for students to visually, aurally, and orally play with.
Online materials are included with each book, including manipulatives, visuals, and vocal scores. Playlists for musical resources are available in iTunes and Spotify

Make a Marimba for your Music Classes!

17 Feb 2018 20:48

I've been making marimbas with school kids since 1997 when I saw Jon Madin at the Seattle AOSA conference. He showed us some marimbas he had made with a local school and gave a short demonstration of how they were built. We played a couple of tunes and I was hooked!

My music supervisor back home in Augusta County asked me what I'd like to do the following summer at the music camp we held each summer. Without hesitation, I said, "Let's make some marimbas!" We made 6 marimbas that summer based on Jon Madin's design and I went on to make 3 more for my own music room. 

Since 1998, I've gone on to make many more marimbas with students up and down the East Coast. Just this morning, I've finished up the preparations for two more marimbas (numbers 42 and 43), a Bass and a 3 ½ octave Aussie that are bound for St. Stephen's School in Bradenton, FL. I've got 3 more workshops coming up this spring, one in Indiana, one in Georgia, and one back home in Virginia. 
I can testify to the fun and joyful learning that takes place at these workshops. Kids can get their hands on materials and tools and help make a beautiful new instrument for themselves! We discus how the sounds are made, why tuning is so important, and how resonators amplify the sound of the tonebars without any electronic amplification. 

Try it sometime!
Make a marimba at school!

Let's Play and Sing some SOL'S!!

4 Feb 2018 01:25

About five years ago, my good friend and Galax dulcimer player, Phyllis Gaskins ask me to help her
record some songs she had written for her second graders. I happily complied and recorded this remarkable set of children's songs about learning objectives in elementary school.

Phyllis was an elementary classroom teacher, now retired. Her love of music and singing meant that her class sessions were always filled with music and learning. Alas, at a beginning of the year faculty meeting, she and the rest of the staff were handed learning objectives for the entire year.  Phyllis described it as "no frills learning." This was her response.
So, being feisty, I set up an appointment with the principal. I had a plan.
Principal: You cannot justify singing in the classroom because the children have music once a week with a “trained” music teacher. 
Me: What?!?! Why???
Principal: You have to follow the curricula. The objectives for reading, math, social studies, and science are to be the focus of every lesson. 
Me: Ok. What if I find or create songs that teach those objectives? Can we sing more often?
Principal: Let me see what you can develop. 
I created a document with all of the core objectives labeled and numbered. I searched for songs to teach these, and when I could not find one, I wrote one. Each month I gave the principal an update on my progress and invited him into the classroom to observe the lesson. Mission accomplished. My song writing journey began.
And just like that School Songs was born. This brand new release is all about songs for Social Studies, Science and Reading in the elementary classroom. The songbook contains full scores for every song on the CD. Some of the songs have lead sheets with guitar or ukulele chords and some are full scores for including parts for Orff instruments and/or home made marimbas.

Teach geography with Trip to Egypt or Fly to China. Energize your social studies lessons with In the Good Old USA and The Three Resources. Study condensation, precipitation, and water vapor by singing The Water Cycle!

The songs on the CD (available separately) are performed and recorded by Brent Holl, folk singer and former teacher as well. He uses acoustic guitar, melodica, all manner of special percussion instruments, and a home made marimba. Teachers who have marimbas or Orff instruments in their classrooms will be able to re-create the Orff arrangements written in this book with their students. All of these arrangements are playable on guitar, keyboard or ukulele! Have a listen, courtesy of CD Baby!  Find out more at

Chris Judah-Lauder and Classroom Drumming, a Perfect Match

27 May 2017 14:34

How much fun was it to work with Chris on this new book? Amazing! Since she retired last year, her promise to me was to get started on some of the wonderful materials she'd been working on with her students in the final years of her career. Her new book, Drum With a Passion came together very efficiently and was released on May 1, 2017. 
This book carries forward Chris's great classroom style of teaching classfirst seen in her, now classic books, Canya Conga?, to drum, and Hand Drums on the Move. The activities foster creativity and group involvement. Chris does a lot of teaching, but always allows for  and even demands student input in each activity. 
"How can we organize this in a form?" 
"Can you find a great groove for the B Section?" 
"You guys go off and create a way to move around and through the instruments for the B and C sections? Come back and show us all!" 
As always the new book includes teaching suggestions.  Chris's  30-plus years of experience and skill as a classroom music teacher make these suggestions the most valuable part of the book. In this new book the teaching suggestions include full color visuals that Chris used to teach these activities. Making them available online is a new innovation in this release. Purchasers will be able to download all the visuals directly to their own software. 

Drum with a Passion- (Book; BPP-CDWP; $29.95)  Drumming Activities 
By Chris Judah-Lauder
This new release from Chris is her latest collection of energetic, child-ready drumming activities. As with all of her classic drumming texts, this one was developed in the classroom with her students and have been polished in the classroom and at workshops and conference sessions around the country.
Drum with a Passion includes fifteen songs with activities, lessons plans, objectives, and supplemental materials available for download including student worksheets and full color visuals for your presentation software. The visuals follow the lesson plan presented for each song. Purchasers may request download information.
Don’t miss three more great resources 
for drumming in the classroom by Chris Judah-Lauder 


Strum it Up! from Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg. Just released!

29 Oct 2016 00:00

New Release from Beatin' Path Publications, LLC
Strum it Up! - 21 Soprano Ukulele Pieces in Orff Style
By Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg

21 Ukulele Pieces in Orff Style by Sandy Lantz and Gretchen WahlbergUkuleles are a beautiful addition to elementary music classrooms. By playing ukuleles, students learn about chord progressions, develop vocabulary, and accompany vocal and instrumental melodies. The ukulele’s timbre supports the child’s voice, often allowing students to hear and sing harmony more accurately with ukulele accompaniment. Such experiences promote independent musicianship; many students purchase their own ukulele and enjoy playing at home, even beyond their elementary years.
This collection is a perfect addition to your Orff music classroom. Each piece has a full orchestration and most have teaching suggestions for adding movement.
Suggested retail price for this new book is $24.95. School and dealer discounts are available, just give us a call!
Available NOW from:
Beatin' Path Publications, LLC
302 East College Street 

Bridgewater, VA 22812 
Supplemental files are available on including full lyric sheets, chord charts, and visuals for your presentation software.

“As with recorder instruction, we believe ukuleles should be integrated with other classroom instruments, and in this book, you nd orchestrations with barred instruments, unpitched percussion, and recorder. Some lessons include creative movement and improvisation. Keep in mind these lessons may span several class

sessions.” - Sandy and Gretchen 

Brent Holl -

Another great book of singing and clapping games from Aimee Curtis Pfitzner

28 Oct 2016 23:48

Hands to Hands, Too  
Hand Clapping Songs and Games from the USA and Canada 
By Aimee Curtis Pfitzner
Hands to Hands, Too, contains pieces collected from music teachers, from Canada and the USA. Many have original clapping games invented by Aimee with the help of her students. These hand clapping games are universal, some familiar, some brand new. Rhythmic play with songs and chants is the instinctive music language of children. This collection along with Aimee’s companion book, Hands to Hands, is filled with high-energy and engaging materials all ages will enjoy.
Each song and clapping game is engraved with unique body percussion notation making it easy to prepare the activities for students. Formations, dance steps, or other special instructions are included in each song and game.
Supplemental files including full color visuals suitable for presentation stations and links to videos of children playing the games as well as "How-to" videos from Aimee for some of the more complicated clapping patterns are available on for purchasers.
Available NOW from:
Beatin' Path Publications, LLC
302 East College Street 

Bridgewater, VA 22812 
Supplemental files are available on including videos of Aimee's students playing the games as well as full color visuals of the texts for your presentation software.
Suggested retail price for this new book (BPP-AH2H2) is $29.95.  School and dealer discounts are available. Please give us a call!
Brent Holl -

Jazz Songs, Elementary Music, Together at Last!

27 Nov 2014 19:55

Teaching jazz in elementary school is a no brainer!  Jazz is, most certainly, America's music. It is elemental.  It is part of our collective heritage. It is the Music most representative of our multi-cultural society.  Influences from every culture and nation that is a part of our great melting pot can be found in this great music.
Justifications are easy. It's not the why, but the how that is of importance to music teachers across the country.  Teaching jazz history is one way to approach the how, but even more important is the playing of jazz music, coupled with the history and background of what is being played.
All jazz music has a historical context.  Every type of jazz music has a style, a groove, a cultural influence, a story that must be addressed.  Dr. Patrick Ware of Woodbridge, Virginia, has addressed this important method for teaching jazz in his book, Here's Two - Original Jazz Songs for the Elementary Classroom
Here’s Two gives students the exciting opportunity to connect to their own musical heritage. Jazz is America’s classical music. Born of cross-cultural connections, improvisation and unprecedented creativity, Jazz music is much like your classroom. Use these pieces as a vehicle to take your students to a wonderful place they may never have gone. As Cab Calloway said “Get in the groove and go.”
Patrick has created ten original songs in various styles and grooves that are all directly related to the traditions of jazz.  Each song is a teaching/learning moment.  Students can play, improvise, dance and sing while they are learning about the great traditions of American jazz music. Dr. Ware provides sources and listening activities that help children with the context for each song.  He also includes examples or models of each song that can be played for the students. One of the basic tenets of Orff Schulwerk is this idea of using models of indigenous music to improvise and create new compositions.

The title song Here's Two is patterned after Duke Ellington’s tune, I let a song go out of my heart with   lyrics by Irving Mills.  In the section of the lesson plan called "Take a Listen," Patrick points out the use of the off-beat groove. Listen:

In another example: New House 416, named for a new house address of Patrick and his family, models Long, Long Summer by Dizzy Gillespie. It features a Latin groove contrasting with a swing solo section.  Give a listen:

Playing jazz on Orff instruments presents a unique problem that Dr. Ware addresses head on.  There simply aren't enough notes on the diatonic instruments to get the extra notes often needed to achieve the jazz sound.  Patrick has provided a complete setup for each instrument used in each song.  The arrangement of the bars sets up the jazz or blues scales used in each piece.  This is a unique approach enabling the jazz songs to be played in several different keys.  The idea is simply an extension of the common Orff approach of adapting the instruments for the pentatonic scales.  
Here's Two presents a unique and very playable, child-centered set of original jazz songs perfect for the jazz component in your curriculum.  It is available at Beatin' Path Publications LLC.
Brent Holl -

AOSA Denver Day 2

14 Nov 2013 20:22

Michael and I found the perfect place for breakfast this morning, Sam's #3 Cafe, just a few blocks west along the Pedestrian Mall (16th Street).  A hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage gravy, and biscuits got the day started perfectly.

A herd of buffalo along 16th Street
 We walked to the end of the mall, boarded a shuttle and rode it all the way to the east end and then back to the Visitor Information Center.  There we found lodgings for the 4 days after conference and booked three day trips into the Rockies and around the Denver area.  

The afternoon found us on a tour bus going around the city seeing the sights.  Almost everywhere along the way we were able to view or glimpse the Rocky Mountains, a constant reminder of where we are and how beautiful this place on earth really is.  (Except for the Canadian Geese... watch your step...)
Michael talks to the driver of the red Gray Line bus.

We stopped at Mile High stadium, the Martin Luther King statue, Unsinkable Molly Brown's house and museum, and the State Capital building.  We didn't get to see the golden dome ($377,000,000 worth of gold leaf is in the process of being installed) but we were able to walk around and gawk at the inside.  Beautiful, old, stone architecture....

The Conference began for us after the tour as we began meeting up with friends, registering, and then dinner at Bubba Gumps.

After dinner we met up with Tom and Bonny, our fellow CeltOrff band mates.  CeltOrff started up in Spokane in 2010 when we all found each other and discovered our mutual love of Celtic music.  Bonny and I met at the AOSA in Louisville in '03 and played together in the closing ceremony.  We had promised each other to get together for a Jam but it didn't happen until '10. So here we are! We jammed till about 9:30 and promised each other that we'd get together at lunch times or whenever could grab a moment away from the conference.
Bonny Lundin-Scheer, Tom Wilson, and Brent Holl - The CeltOrffs

Off the Denver and the National AOSA Conference

13 Nov 2013 16:11

I drove to Dulles airport to stay at the Best Western and take advantage of their Park and Fly promotion.  One night's stay gets me 13 days of free parking!  Then it's rise at 4:45 AM to make an 8:15 flight on Delta to Atlanta where I'll meet Michael.  We'll travel on together from there to Denver.

Delta rocks!  The registration and check-in was amazingly easy.  I first downloaded the mobile app, then checked in from there.  Up popped by QR coded boarding pass.  I popped them over to my passbook app on my iPhone.  Passbook is cool, because the boarding pass popped up every time I needed it automatically!  Delta also provides access to wifi all the way, a nice bonus.  $14 bucks got me 24 hour access.
I met up with Michael in Atlanta and found Judy Burnette and Gretchen Jensen on the same flight. The flight was uneventful, and we had a beautiful day for travel.
Over Kansas... Not in a Balloon

We all arrived in Denver, had lunch in the airport and took the shuttle to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency.

Michael and I decided to take a walk to the Hard Rock to get a pin and a beer.  Then we found Marlowe's for dinner.  We had some nice Lobster Taco's.

We walked through the downtown on the Pedestrian Mall over the conference center and then back to the hotel.  We turned in early.
The Big Blue Grizzly looks into the Conference Center.

Creative Bit's with Children's Lit, Released October 1, 2013

4 Nov 2013 01:45

 In Creative Bits with  Children's Lit, best-selling favorite children's books come alive in music classrooms everywhere with songs and creative lesson plans developed by best-selling authors Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg, successful presenters in level courses and conferences around the country.

Each book, while being read aloud in class, is embellished with songs, games, movement, puppetry, and drama. There's never been a better way to present important music concepts than through engaging young musicians with stories, reading, and song.

In Creative Bits With Children’s Lit, Sandy and Gretchen have focused on nine books which vary in reading levels, genres, and subjects.  As districts across the nation adopt Common Core Standards, these lessons integrate language arts and music while maintaining the integrity of both subject areas.   Language arts, with rhyming words, metric call and response speech phrases, patterns, and onomatopoeias, lends itself to a perfect blend with music.  With poetry, folk tales, fun stories, and books addressing social issues, great connections have been made with teachers and students between books and music.

These lessons adapt to multi-age groups as well as mainstreamed special needs classes.  Differentiated instruction is integrated with a thoroughly kid-tested teaching process.

This great new release encourages music teachers everywhere to get the “Bug” and open a book!

Creative Bits with Children’s Lit is  AVAILABLE NOW! Look at a preview on Sandy and Gretchen's website!

Suggested retail price for this new book is $24.95.  School discounts are available. More information at

More from Beatin' Path Publications, LLC

Not following Beatin' Path Publications yet? Why not?

New Book, Greek Myths in Modes, Just Released!

13 Feb 2013 17:11

Danai D. Apostolidou-Gagné and Judith Thomas-Solomon have just finished a beautiful new book of music, drama, and song using the Greek myths as the aesthetic generator. The myths provide a rich background and inspiration for improvisation and composition encouraged by these two fine teacher/authors. They've used the ancient Greek modes (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian and Aeolian) to create sound, sight, and movement explorations portraying the classic Greek stories.

Greek Myths in Modes  (Book/CD ROM)  will be released on March 1, 2013. The book includes all the materials needed to make the ancient Greek myths come alive. The book contains master scores, scripts, images, and extensive lesson plan suggestions. The CD ROM contains images, instrument parts, full color visuals and student/actor script. High quality audio files of the songs and instrumental pieces are included as well.

This collection is offered as a way to enter the mythical, magical world of Greek kings and heroes. Because these ageless stories provide opportunities for invention and collaboration, they also invite dramatization, and this powerful amalgam makes for memorable learning experiences. The Greek myths in this book have been adapted for use through music, movement, speech play, and modes in an open-ended, elemental style for grades 4-5-6.

Inviting preparatory activities give the teacher ideas for developments of dialogue, meter, and mode. Medieval modes have been implemented to bring a tonal flavor appropriate to each myth. Every story has its own ethos, just as the modes have their intrinsic individuality. Although very little is known about the affect the modes in ancient Greece had on its people, or even the specific scale tones, it is known that the structure of the medieval modes were an adaptation of the Greek modes. The authors were drawn to them for their unique qualities and found it easy to assign them to human characteristics which has been done in this collection.

Each story uses a mode and has extensive teaching suggestions and helps. Full scripts are provided.

Modes are rarely taught in upper elementary music classes, and so this project provides a vibrant, wholly accessible entrance into Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Pentatonic scales. In our electronic age, the need for human interaction in classroom situations is volcanic. These dramas, which promote inter-personal communication and are “catch-nets” for creativity of both students and teachers, fulfill that need.

The dramas are modeled in the spirit Carl Orff intended where elemental music is ever hanging and open to student input and creativity. Teachers and students can enter the magical garden of Greek mythology with mind and heart open. The will be invited to consort with the Gods and Kings, Monsters and Heroes, dance with the Nymphs and Dryads, and join Orpheus and Apollo in their divine songs, living with them through the Arts.

Not following Beatin' Path Publications yet? Why not?
 Follow @BeatinPathPub 

Brent Holl -

Brent Holl's Busy Season of Orff Workshops and Marimba Building

7 Sep 2012 23:16

I'm sitting in the airport in Charlotte eating a little afternoon snack at Phillips Seafood waiting for my flight to Tampa.  I'll be leading a workshop for the good folk in the Greater Tampa Bay Chapter of the AOSA tomorrow from 9 til 3.  I'm looking forward to it.  If you'd like to take a look at the notes, feel free!

We'll go through some of my favorite activities that begin the year.  Some of them will be taken from Canons Too!, some from Ensemble, and one will be a very cool piece from Steven Kennedy's new book, The Crescent City Collection, just released this week.  In fact, the first 5 copies are in my suitcase for the bookstore at the Tampa Workshop.

This is the beginning of a very busy workshop season for me.  In addition to this session in Tampa, I'll be leading three marimba-making workshops around Virginia.  These sessions are wonderful because they let me get back into the music classes and work with kids.  I help them make beautiful new marimbas for their music classrooms based on the great book from Jon Madin, Make Your Own Marimbas. At the end of September I'll be in Rural Retreat, Virginia at the elementary school there and in October I'll be near my hometown of Bridgewater working with Cub Run Elementary in East Rockingham County before heading off to Roanoke to help the kids at Highland Park Elementary.

This is what we do at the Marimba workshops.  Enjoy!

After all of that, I'm off to the North Carolina MEA in Winston-Salem to help Michael Nichols do a couple of sessions and then we head off together to the AOSA conference in St. Louis.  The time will go quickly, but it seems like a looooong time till Thanksgiving. Off we go!

Brent Holl -

Rob Amchin in China Part 2

7 Aug 2012 22:18

Beatin' Path author and composer, Rob Amchin, has been in China for almost 2 weeks now, touring and teaching at various sites throughout the country.  Here are some of his observations.

We've been traveling on three lane roads turning into five lanes with pedestrians walking with babies across the street. Motorcycles and bicycles are everywhere and everyone seems to be honking their horns for no apparent reason except to warn the other guys that they are cutting into the traffic. (They are close enough that you can put your arm into the window of the next car.)  It's amazing, wild, and so crazy that we are holding our breath most of the time we're moving along the roads.

The taxi was a buck to go cross town

And oh my the dirt... street cleaners always have streets to broom.  Floors are washed with dirty mops.  I love it! And the people are beautiful.

Fireworks every other night..... Wedding celebrations bring fireworks. This does not make for happy sleeping but it is festive, exciting  and memorable.

For this in-service Deb had them playing stick games with chop sticks.... pretty funny replacement for rhythm sticks but they have billions of chop sticks here!

Exploring legato movement to traditional music
Attendees to the training session--Rob presented the first three days of the 10 day training session.

Teachers here have responded well to my teaching because of my work in the past two years.  Working last year in the Xiang-e mountain school helping the victims of the 2008 earthwake has been recognized and applauded.  I am still receiving gifts of appreciation for this.

I will write about the Xiang-e school, which was destroyed in the horrible earthquake in Sichuan province in May 2008.  Many children died as a result of school dormitories being destroyed during the devastation.  With an international determination, the school was rebuilt and became the most structurally sound building in the small mountain village just 10 minutes from Dujianyan, a city near Chengdu.  The reconstructed school was built with a fine arts wing with the goal of using the arts to help students heal in the horrible disaster.  An Orff program and music therapy training was suggested and I was the first westerner to go the newly constructed school.  I helped the music volunteers unload their instruments and to begin learning how the Orff approach could be of musical and therapeutic benefit to children.  I was able to present an in-service to teachers in the region about Orff pedagogy.  While we were not able to go to Xiang-e school this trip since it was summer recess, I'm hoping to return to this community and be a partner in the healing of this community.

Discussing Orff Schulwerk with the President of the China Orff Schulwerk Association.

Brent Holl -

Rob Amchin Goes to China!

30 Jul 2012 13:54

Rob Amchin has been writing books for Beatin' Path Publications since 1997. His titles include, Recorder Frolics, Alto Antics, Moods & Modes, Spring Songs, Autumn Songs and a currently underway project with the working title, Mixed Pickles. He's taught many times overseas including courses and workshops in Russia and Poland. This week he's in China with his wife Deb touring and presenting Orff workshops for the teachers there.

Rob was an invited presenter to the National Conference on Art Education for Rural Children in China. He gave three 6-hour presentations focusing on fundamental strategies in Schulwerk pedagogy. The conference took place in Xining, the capital of Qinhia Province in Central China from July 27-29, 2012. The Qinghai Normal Universtiy hosted the event. The 150 participants sang, folk danced, sang, improvised using movement, body percussion and instruments, made new discoveries using their own poetry and children's games, created new choreographies to music by Handel and Saint-Saëns, while learning the fundamental pedagogical goals of Orff teaching.

Rob taught a children's group as part of the event. Rob's wife, Deb, helped in giving short lectures on early childhood, Montessori, and children's singing voice. As a closing activity, participants shared their native folk songs and children's games and sang Viva la Musica.

This is Rob's second trip to China and he's hoping to return annually to plant the seeds for more Orff studies for the teachers there. There is a wide interest in Orff teaching and Rob's hoping to help it's development in China.
Brent Holl -

Great News and New Products

25 Jul 2012 18:24

Drum It Up! a great new book by Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg should arrive any day now. Pre-orders have been coming in and folks are really going to be pleased with this new book. Sandy and Gretchen's conference sessions and level courses have been hugely popular for many years and the activities in this book are the best of the best activities for drums of all kinds in the elementary music classroom. The extra bonus in this book are the extensive lesson plans written in a beautiful, sequential, easy-to-understand style using the Orff process.

The newest publication from Beatin' Path is well underway. Steven Kennedy, a native of New Orleans and lead music teacher at the Wilson Charter School in New Orleans, is writing a new marimba book of original tunes and arrangements of songs from New Orleans. These tunes echo the grooves of music legends, Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Buddy Bolden, and John Boutte. It also includes some widely known folk tunes associated with New Orleans like, "When the Saints go Marching in" and "Great Big House in New Orleans." Steve is hard at work on this new volume and we expect it to go to press in just a few weeks. Check back here for more news!

Brent Holl -

Free Stuff on Judy Sills' Website

17 Jul 2012 12:46

There's some treasure to be found in them thar hills friends...  A pretty well kept secret is ready to see the light of day. Buried deep in the Beatin' Path website is a new FREE collection of activities, songs for elementary music classes with Orff process and complete lesson plans.  Free Web Songs is a pdf file that can be downloaded and printed on your own printer.

Download free songs and lesson plans here.

Judy used this as a free testing ground for new materials that she has presented at workshops and level courses both in the USA and Canada.  Some of these materials may find their way into publications in the future, some may stay free forever!  All of these songs have full Orff orchestrations and full lesson plans written by a true Orff master teacher. 
All of these songs and activities are previously unpublished. Judy says,  "Help yourself!"
Download Free Web Songs by Judy Sills 

Brent Holl -

Jon Madin's First Book, Marimba Music 1 Now Available!

14 Jul 2012 16:15

Marimba Music 1 (book/CD) is a collection of easy pieces for diatonic marimbas, xylophones and other instruments. Each piece has simple and more challenging parts. All pieces have been extensively classroom tested and are suitable for children aged 8 to adults.

Included is a professionally produced audio CD of complete performances of each song.  The arrangements are suitable for movement, listening, or playing along. View and listen to a preview on his website.

Marimba Music 1 was first published in Australia in 1994 and has proven it’s value over and over.  During Jon Madin’s visit to the USA in 1997, this book along with several of his following publications were introduced.  They have been available on a limited basis in North America but now Beatin’ Path Publications is the publisher and distributor in North America for all of Jon Madin’s wonderful publications for elementary school music classes. To see all of his publications visit his website.

I was lucky enough to attend Jon's sessions at the Seattle AOSA conference in 1997 and was completely won over by his friendly, inclusive style of teaching.  I immediately came back to my home school and began to make marimbas and play these wonderful songs.  I've helped build 16 Aussies and Bass Marimbas since that wonderful conference.  I recommend this as well as his other fine books.

Brent Holl -

Marimba Music 1 Now Available from Beatin' Path Publications, LLC

7 Jul 2012 17:04

The long wait is over!  Jon Madin's very first book of marimba tunes for kids is now available from Beatin' Path Publications.  Since Jon decided to distribute his books in North America with us, his six  books have come online one at a time.  They are all now available for music teachers all over the country.

Marimba Music 1 is full of great tunes with complete lesson plan suggestions.  Some of the tunes are songs that are accompanied with marimbas, some are instrumentals for dancing.  I used this book and Marimba Music 2 as 'go to' materials during my career at Stewart Middle school ever since I saw and met Jon in 1997 at the Seattle national Orff conference.  Talk about a life changer! Jon is an incredible teacher, inventor and writer and his work made a huge difference in my teaching.  This one, as well as his other 5 books, are well worth checking out.

Marimba Music - 1 (Book/CD) - is a collection of easy pieces for diatonic marimbas, xylophones and other instruments. Each piece has simple and more challenging parts. All pieces have been extensively classroom tested and are suitable for children aged 8 to adults. Each piece has extensive suggestions for lesson plans and includes instrumentals, songs, and dances.

Brent Holl -

New Releases and New Projects at Beatin' Path

6 Jul 2012 20:40

Well, Drum It Up, that fantastic new book of drumming activities is off to the printer this morning.  Sandy and Gretchen are ecstatic with the birth of this new 'baby.' Both of these fine musicians have been teaching for 25 years+, have lead workshops and sessions nationally and at the state level, and are very highly regarded as Orff Levels Instructors.  They've finished their first opus and are looking forward to publishing more of their tried and true classroom tested material.  Look for much more from this dynamic duo!

Meanwhile, Steven Kennedy, lead music teacher at the Andrew Wilson Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana, is in the midst of a brand new project for his marimba ensemble.  He's arranged and composed 10 tunes from the heritage of New Orleans music.  With such a rich cultural tradition to draw from, his capture of the essence of New Orleans music and it's application to his school kids will be a wonderful addition to the collection of Orff music for marimbas.

The highlight of this new collection is the Treme Song by John Boutte.  This great tune was used on the recent HBO TV hit "Treme." Mr. Boutte has graciously allowed Steve to arrange the tune for his kids and include in this book.  I can't wait to see how it will be received.  It should be a fun piece to play.

We'll work this summer to finish this project and hopefully release the book with a CD in early September.  Stay tuned!

Brent Holl -

Marimba Music for Little Kids - Just Released!

26 Jun 2012 01:00

Beatin' Path Publications has just released Marimba Music for Little Kids (book/CD) – 18 songs for younger elementary students to sing and play on diatonic marimbas or xylophones. (BPP-MM4LK) by Jon Madin ($34.95)

Beatin’ Path Publications is now the publisher and distributor in North America for all of Jon Madin’s wonderful publications for elementary school music classes. To see all of his publications visit his website:

Marimba Music for Little Kids is a collection of songs and pieces of music for diatonic marimbas, xylophones and other instruments. These songs are suitable for children ages 5-10 (some can easily be adapted for older children too). The songs for the youngest children have actions and only a few notes to find.  Suggested retail price for Marimba Music for Little Kids (book/CD) (BPP-MM4LK) is $34.95.

Available NOW from: Beatin' Path Publications LLC, 302 East College Street, Bridgewater, VA 22812 - 540-478-4833 -

School and dealer discounts available. More Marimba music for schools can be found on the Beatin' Path website.

Brent Holl -

Galax Dulcimer Book/CD Already a Best Seller!

21 Jun 2012 13:11

Galax Dulcimer by Phyllis Gaskins is an amazing book!  First of all it's beautiful to look through, and the included CD is a wonderful experience in listening, learning and playing along.  With full-color photos and a riveting narrative the book simply cannot be put down until read and perused from cover to cover.

Phyllis has collected pictures and stories about dulcimers and especially, dulcimers from the Galax region of Southwest Virginia, for almost 50 years and has finally taken the time to share her vast experience and knowledge for the huge benefit of her fans, students, and fellow musicians.  She joined forces with Brent Holl at Beatin' Path Publications to finally publish her story and her music.
Galax Dulcimer is a storybook, a photo album, and a historical document all in one. The history section tells the story of her relationship with various dulcimer players/builders in the Galax tradition including, Raymond Melton and Ben Seymour.  Some of the original plans for building dulcimers are included an look as though they've been taken from the original sketchs.  There is even an X-Ray image of the unique construction of the inside bracing of a Galax dulcimer.
There are 42 songs notated in authentic Galax style using Phyllis's own unique tablature.  The strumming pattern she uses is a distinct style with the strong beats strummed toward your body.  Her tab shows exactly how to play the tunes and what strumming strokes enable the tunes to be played in the authentic style. Wow!  Passing on the history and style of this amazing music like this is an incredible gift.
The audio CD is professionally produced at BeArcade Productions in Port Republic, VA and can be enjoyed by listening, but is intended as a teaching tool for playing along.  Phyllis has played each tune slowly once and then twice up to speed.  It's an excellent way to learn these old time tunes.
If you're not a dulcimer player you can enjoy the stories and history, and then play all the tunes on your violin, banjo, mandolin, or any other instrument of your choosing.  Her website has a nice slideshow and preview to see and listen to her music.

Brent Holl -

Drum It Up! - 20 Classroom Drumming Pieces for K-5 By Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg

20 Jun 2012 18:11

Drum it up - (Book) 20 Classroom Drumming Pieces for K-5 By Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg

Work is progressing nicely on the new book of drumming activities for elementary music now being written by Sandy Lantz and Gretchen Wahlberg.  Drum It Up! includes 20 pieces that have been tried and tested with children in Sandy and Gretchen's respective classrooms and are, hands down, the favorites.

The new book will be available in time for the new school year and you can pre-order your copy to be sure you get yours! You can go to their website and take a look at sessions and workshops they've led using activities in the book.  The new book includes pieces for grades K - 6.

The 20 pieces in this book are sequential drumming pieces for hand drums, barrel drums, tubanos, congas, and small percussion.  You'll find everything from easy hand drum pieces using the echo process, to show stoppers with black light beaters or sock mallets circling and beating on giant barrel drums! 
All of these pieces are tried and true, used many times with great success with children and in Level courses, workshops, and conference sessions. Each piece comes with teaching suggestions that will start your creative juices flowing. 
"Teaching suggestions and form are merely ways for you to begin. As you play with the pieces and teaching processes, you and your students will discover new ways of teaching and learning within your own classroom percussion ensembles. In addition, student feedback can be a phenomenal way to create new and exciting extensions to these pieces. We encourage you to continuously “think outside the box” and to give your students the poetic license to do the same."
~Sandy and Gretchen
More information
Brent Holl -
Switch to desktop site