By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
COCOA -- When Terry "Tee" Rockwell, a music teacher at Challenger 7 Elementary School in Cocoa, began to teach her students the recorder, she was inspired by her students' interest in the instrument.
"The recorder is an instrument that was popular in the Renaissance era," Ms. Rockwell said. "I wanted my students to understand that the recorder is a real instrument and not a toy. As I discussed the music of the Renaissance and what was happening in history in that time, it sparked a huge interest in the students. Who doesn't love a story about kings and queens, knights and swords?"
Drawing from her students' enthusiasm, Ms. Rockwell decided to host "Pastime in Winter," a free Renaissance-inspired concert. The performance, featuring fifth- and sixth-grade students, will take place Wednesday, Dec. 4 in the school courtyard at 7 p.m.
"Did you know that King Henry VIII owned more than 75 recorders of his own?" Ms. Rockwell asked. "As a matter of fact, we are performing a piece of his music in this program, 'Pastime with Good Company,' the inspiration for the title of this program."
Because Ms. Rockwell sees her students once a week for 40 minutes at a time, she and her students began rehearsing in September for the performance, which will be a reenactment of a Renaissance celebration. The concert will also include the fifth- and sixth-grade teachers at Challenger 7 Elementary.
The fifth-grade students will dance and play instruments around a ribbon-festooned Christmas pole, while also taking part in Ms. Rockwell's own musical composition "Dream of the Snow Queen Fairy."
"I composed the poem, the music and the Orff accompaniment," said Ms. Rockwell, an Orff-certified instructor. "Ms. Rebecca Fricks, a fifth-grade teacher, will recite the poem, with her theater English accent."
When Ms. Rockwell explains that she has her master's level in Orff-Schulwerk, she said that people tend to look at her bewilderedly.
"Carl Orff was a contemporary composer, best known for his 'Carmina Burana,' but in addition, he developed an approach to teach music to children," Ms. Rockwell said. "'Schulwerk' means schoolwork in German, implying that children will learn, but they do so in a manner of exploring music through singing, moving, playing and improvising."
Ms. Rockwell further explained that Orff developed what are known as "Orff instruments" based on pre-existing instruments, which are adapted for children.
"The most common are the barred instruments, such as the xylophone, metallophone and glockenspiel," she said. "Music teachers can take Orff-Schulwerk courses at universities that offer them. When a teacher reaches the master level, they are certified and able to become a clinician."
Ms. Rockwell's sixth-grade students will brandish "swords" as they perform the traditional English folk "Morris Dance," and sing the "Boar's Head Carol."
Students in both grades of the chorus and stringed instrument classes will explore their talents with the music of the Renaissance period, including carols such as "The Holly and the Ivy" and "Fum, Fum, Fum."
Two students, Kayden Murphy and Deanna Lieder, will serve as "King" and "Queen," overseeing all of the Renaissance festivities.
"Anyone, who finds themselves at this concert, will be delighted and amazed to see what elementary students can do," Ms. Rockwell said. "It will be evident that these young folks have worked hard, learned a ton about music, performance, history, teamwork and so much more."
Ms. Rockwell said attendees will also be entertained, as they witness what it would have been like to attend a Renaissance Feast, with royalty, knights, a Christmas pole and so much more.
"Will it be the perfect performance? Of course not," Ms. Rockwell said. "But it will surely lift your spirits and ready you for this Yuletide season."
The Challenger 7 Elementary School Chorus will host "Pastime in Winter" on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. The concert is free and takes place in the school courtyard.
Challenger 7 Elementary School is located at 6135 Rena Dr., Cocoa.
For more information, call (321) 636-5801.