“If a recorder can be involved, I’m there!” – Kate Bright


Kate is a teacher at Lincoln Charter School in York, PA where she teaches general music, band, and chorus to 750 students in grades kindergarten through fifth.  She has been teaching for 10 years and has completed her Orff Levels at the Villanova Summer Music Studies program.

“The elemental approach to music and movement education allows students to do music, to be musicians….This is how true understanding is developed”
~ Diana Hawley Larsen

          Guiding Students in Their Creativity

“I came to my students a perfectly paper-trained musician; all music was on paper, they should learn how to read and write music, and the only good music was written down.  My students became literate musicians, but honestly, none of us were musically satisfied.

After I took my [Orff] levels, I approached my class completely differently.  My students were allowed to express themselves from their very first day in kindergarten.  Instead of being a benevolent dicator, I became their guide.  I was able to break down music and movement into basic building blocks, give those blocks to my students, and let them explore and create.  My students grew into these creative musical beings with definite musical opinions.  I have never been so excited to have people tell me I was wrong: ‘Miss Bright, I think it sounds better if you play it like this…’ ”

Kate loves creating music with her students and to continue magic beyond the school day, she started after-school clubs three days a week for fourth and fifth graders.  These clubs explore xylophone, recorder, and composition/ukulele.

She truly puts creativity in her student’s hands.  When given the opportunity to write a school song, she brought it to her students to work in collaboration on the project.  Often, she finds herself the student as her students teacher her their compositions and how they arrange pieces.

Leadership and Bringing Music to the Community

Upon taking her Orff Schulwerk levels, Kate connected with multiple chapters to continue her education.  Now she is president for the Greater Baltimore Area Orff Chapter, is president Philadelphia Area Orff Chapter, is an active member of Mid-Atlantic Orff Chapter in DC, and has visited other chapter workshops.  She has, additionally, connected with some of her colleagues to gather for regular “recorder parties.”

Kate also takes her leadership to other non-professional music and movement organizations.  She directs the Hummelstown Community Singers, a non-auditioned community choir.  She serves as secretary for the Harrisburg Area Contra Dancing Association.

“These communities are already filled with elemental music and movement, and it is my goal to get more adults making music and movement rather than being passive audience members.”

Workshop and Poem

Kate recently presented at the Philadelphia Orff Chapter a session with “reverse verse” – a poem that can be read both forwards and backwards.  She provides us a poem of such nature that describes her journey as a music educator.

Music Education – By Kate Bright


what’s on the paper,

never just play

what’s in your head.


How it’s written.

Who cares

What you are thinking –

Play it right!


Play it right –

what YOU are thinking!

Who cares

how it’s written?


what’s in your head.

Never just play

what’s on the paper,


What Colleagues and Students are Saying:

I’m writing my hope award nomination on the brightest teacher in the school, Miss Bright.  Miss Bright gives me hope because every time I walk into the building, she is right there waiting for all the wonderful children here.  Not only does she stand there but she makes everone’s day brighter b ecause she gives us high fives and greetings. 

Another reason why Miss Bright gives me hope is because every morning she reminds me how great of a musician I am.  I take trombone lessons, xylophone lessons, and we all have music class.  I like to take classes with her because she is a great person to be with and she loves music just like most of the students do too. 

What I certainly love Miss Bright is that she never gives up.  I bet you that if I ask each and every one of the students at LCS seen Miss. Bright give up, I think none of [them] would say that [they] had!”

– Anonymous Student (and Miss. Bright was honored with the Hope Award last December, 2014).

“Every summer [Kate] goes to several trainings in order to strengthen her knowledge and skills in addition to attending every Orff workshop she can possibly go to throughout the year.  She has presented very compelling workshops for our chapter sharings, demonstrating her tremendous work with recorder, Orff instruments, Orff pieces from the volumes, improvisational and process work and folk dance… Her presence in our community is a constant source of inspiration and joy both during workshops and as members gather informally after workshops.  She is passionate about all of the components of Orff – but is particularly strong in recorder, process and improvisation.  She has a voracious appetite for learning new repertoire and using it with her students.  She presented a wonderful workshop on folk dance for us this year using music from all over the world.  Kate’s devotion to Orff Schulwerk permeates her work with her inner-city students who have the special opportunity to work with this incredibly energetic, knowledgeable, fun-loving, and dynamic teacher.”

Kim Weisheit (Past President of Greater Baltimore Orff Schulwerk Chapter)

“Kate Bright is most dedicated to Orff-Schulwerk.  She uses the Orff Schulwerk Volumes as models and material for composition.  Where the Volumes have suggested to write a melody over a given bassline, she has taken the time to do so, and has kept careful record of her scores.  She studies and thoughtfully analyzes the Volumes examples to best understand how to choose materials for her students.

Carl Orff said that he did not want to write or print the material in “Music for Children,” and Kate embodies the reasons.  She is motivated by the possibility of what can be done to the music, she is not limited by what is printed.  For example, she will transpose a melody into a different mode, and then play it backwards.”

-Becky Burdett (Music Educator and Friend)

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