GOSHEN — As an added bonus to Bethany Christian Schools’ music curriculum, 15 lower school students are participating in BOP (Bethany Orff Percussion), an after-school, hands-on enrichment class that focuses on instrument playing, movement composition, instrumental improvisation and body percussion.
The class meets each Monday and is led by Bethany parent Kent Dutchersmith, who is an elementary school teacher, certified Orff instructor and passionate about teaching and inspiring children through music.
The group has been meeting weekly since January and is working towards a performance in spring. Dutchersmith is assisted by Starla Graber, also a Bethany parent and music enthusiast.
Interested in exploring possible music enrichment opportunities for his daughter and other lower school students at Bethany, especially those in grades 4-5, Dutchersmith met last fall with guidance counselor Jim Buller to discuss possibilities. Though not originally intending to provide that opportunity himself, he and Buller quickly realized that he was an ideal person given his training, passion and interest.
Dutchersmith describes the Orff Approach to music education as focusing on movement (both creative and folk dance), playing instruments (recorders, xylophones, glockenspiels and other percussion), body percussion, speech, singing, composing and improvising. Knowing that lower school students already do a lot of singing as part of their music education at Bethany, he decided to primarily focus BOP on instrumental music, movement, and improvisation.
Plans are to offer additional after-school programs from mid-March to early May that include tennis, faith and music, running, rocket building, speech, art, board and card games, study table and raising and caring for backyard chickens.