Internationally Recognized Music Education Program Taught at Collegiate

For the past two weeks, 35 teachers have converged on Collegiate School’s campus to learn music education techniques through a unique collaboration with VCU that has given them a broader network of peers and an understanding of how to incorporate Orff into their curriculum.

These instructors, who hail from around the U.S. and Canada, have been studying one of three levels of training for the Orff approach, a music education method that integrates music with movement, drama, speech and play, that is also called Orff Schulwerk.
VCU began offering Orff training in 2007 and seven years later began collaborating with Collegiate, which has allowed the program to grow.

“It’s typical for a university to offer it or for a school system; but it's a rare partnership for a secondary school and a university to offer it,” said Dave Greennagel, VCU’s Director of Music Education. “This reflects a special kind of energy that exists between VCU and Collegiate. It’s also a good reflection of the kind of unique partnerships that exist in Richmond in the arts that don't exist in other places. You’d have to look in places like New York or L.A. for the kind of partnership we have.”

Mike Boyd, Collegiate’s Director of Performing Arts, is also enthusiastic about the joint venture. He experienced the Orff program while in graduate school at VCU and helped bring the training to Collegiate in 2014.

“Because of our facilities we have the space to host this many students, and we are able to provide more than enough instruments for each one of the classes,” said Mr. Boyd, who serves as Course Director for the Orff program at Collegiate and in that role selects the five teachers of the method. (This year three are from Virginia, one comes from Georgia and one is from Memphis.)

“We are also one of only a few locations nationally that hosts all three levels,” Mr. Boyd said.

Of the 42 schools in the U.S. that offer Orff courses, only 17 schools run all three levels. Prior to the collaboration with Collegiate, VCU was able to offer students only two levels.

Teachers who complete the third level of training are recognized by the American Orff-Schulwerk Association as certified, and three Collegiate music department faculty members — Connie Tuttle, Christine Hoffman and Ryan Blevins — have achieved that distinction.

Collegiate is honored to serve teachers from Richmond and beyond through this program, Mr. Boyd said, and the endeavor has yielded lasting benefits.

“We get to bring teachers to our campus from other schools and (sometimes) form partnerships in other ways. The teachers have been able to share ideas they can use in their classrooms throughout the year. It has elevated teaching for everyone. We’ve also formed a partnership with VCU’s music department and sometimes share guest artists.”

Mr. Greennagel said he is thrilled by the program’s continued growth.

“The integrity of Mike Boyd’s management and the quality of the instruction, combined with the beauty of the facilities...all of those things come into play and have helped word spread quickly and internationally.”
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