5th Graders Play, Sing, and Dance!

by Michael Porter
The fifth graders presented their show Mindset Matters on January 30, impressing their parents, teachers, and friends with their amazing singing, dancing, and instrument playing. It was a rousing crowd pleaser!
This production is new in the JCDS repertoire. When Music Specialist Jessica Barker had two students participate in the FMEA All-State Orff Ensemble in January of 2023, she noted the themes in the FMEA show reflected the JCDS focus on Character Education.

"That's when my wheels started turning and I asked for permission to stage portions of the script at our school," said Ms. Barker. "The show was adapted for our student performers. We added new songs, took out songs from the All-State script, and added our own JCDS spin." 

Three of the xylophone arrangements and the overall theme of the show are the product of Chris Judah-Lauder and Karen Benson, who are leaders in the Orff Schulwek pedagogy and were clinicians at last year's All-State convention.
Four of the pieces performed by the students, Anything is Possible, Berserk, Be Strong, and If at First, were written by the famous Carl Orff himself along with Gunild Keetman. The songs were arranged by Chris Judah-Lauder and Karen K. Benson.
"This is a concrete example of our school's belief in professional development put into action and I am thankful for the support we receive as teachers to attend conferences like FMEA so we can bring new ideas back to our students," said Ms. Barker. 

Fortunately, the production of this show happened as part of the Deep Dive program for the 5th graders, where they are allotted extra time in the school day to focus on more intensive projects.
"We would not have been able to put this together without dedicated time for classes to work and rehearse together," said Ms. Barker.
The students learned sections of each piece separately and then put it together in the four days of Deep Dive rehearsals. For example, one class may learn the xylophone part of a piece and the other two classes would learn the body percussion.
"It can be tough to conceptualize an end product when you are only learning one ingredient," Ms. Barker remarked.
The dance routines, choreographed by Dance Manager Hannah Tucker, were also more intricate, and the students rose to the occasion.
"The What's Your Color? number was challenging because the dancers had to perform with live music," Ms. Tucker said. "We practiced with a recorded track, but it wasn't until a week before the show that we practiced with the live instruments. Getting the musicians and dancers in sync is a true work of art."

The lovely lighting and the crisp sound design by Fine Arts Coordinator Lindsay Curry were the finishing touches that gave the show its luster.
"What makes me most proud is seeing the final product and hearing the audience's reaction to the dance moves, the comical lines and beautiful singing," said Ms. Tucker. "I love when students go from struggling to thriving, all on the stage."
Ms. Barker added: "One of my favorite aspects of the Orff Schulwerk teaching methodology is the belief that children are capable of creating high-quality music. We as adults cannot underestimate the artistry and potential of children. Today's performance demonstrated this statement to be true."