by Laura Pantin
On Wednesday, September 17, 2014, renowned singer/songwriter/author/educator José-Luis Orozco came to Teachers College as part of a Bilingual/Bicultural Education sponsored workshop. The nearly two-hour event was filled with movement, songs, learning and laughter. Orozco began by giving some background information on how he got into the world of music and how he learned at a very early age the importance of “appreciating other cultures.” He also emphasized the importance of teaching children about other cultures since more and more regions of the world, and especially the U.S., are becoming multicultural. He also stressed how “music and song stimulate the developing brain and mind” and that through music we are not only teaching children, but transmitting happiness as well.
The workshop continued with a journey through some of Orozco’s songs and how they can be utilized to teach young children many important skills. He showed us how we can utilize songs, chants, finger plays and even games to stimulate young children’s engagement into the learning of important skills. Throughout the workshop, he demonstrated how the songs were sung by focusing on the rhythm and lyrics and then had participants up and singing and dancing to these songs. By having everyone moving and interacting during his demonstrations, it conveyed the effect of the high levels of engagement that these songs and movement could have on children. Some of his songs included, “El Tambor,” which was adapted from Panamanian culture, “Yes I Can!” which stresses self-esteem and high expectations, “Amiga Monica,” “El Baile de Los Colores,” “Chocolate,” and “La Granja.”
Throughout the workshop Orozco had attendees moving around, volunteering and becoming acquainted through the sheer joy of singing along to these wonderful children’s songs. He also showed how they could be adapted to other languages and called upon attendees who spoke Korean, Arabic, French, and Mandarin to teach the audience how to say certain words, such as the numbers, in their language but through his songs. The event came to a close through a simple yet heartwarming goodbye song. Soon we will be seeing a new dual-language education program released based on his music entitled, “Caramba Kids.” Without a doubt, this workshop enlightened everyone on the importance of music, language, education and movement and how they can be weaved together to create a learning atmosphere that is much more engaging for any classroom community.