Kor Arti

Photo: Wikimedia Commons The pupils of the Riga Emil Darzin Specialized Secondary School of Music.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The pupils of the Riga Emil Darzin Specialized Secondary School of Music.

Heidi Håvan Grosch
Sparbu, Norway

Some weeks ago I participated in my first Kor Arti (www.korarti.no) seminar, joining a number of teachers in a school gym to sing songs from around the world in preparation for the World Children’s Day (Barnas verdensdager). Learning only by rote, we sang along with the presenter, echoing and repeating line by line. Since formal music programs are basically nonexistent in Norwegian elementary schools (in many schools music rooms are now media rooms), classroom teachers are for the most part responsible for bringing music training (both vocal and guitar) into their own classrooms, whether they have a musical background or not.

As a way to offer these teachers some hands-on training, the Norwegian Council for Schools of Music and Performing Arts (Norsk kulturskoleråd) has for the past twenty years offered Kor Arti (Choir for fun) as a resource for teacher training. By singing through songs until they become those melodies that run through your head, Kor Arti is equipping even teachers who can’t read music with practical material and techniques.

These Kor Arti one-day seminars and longer courses not only provide materials (a book with words, music, and a karaoke CD of the songs learned) but also model this teaching method with children so the teachers can see the process in action. The day I attended the seminar, a couple classes of elementary school children joined us after lunch, and were taught the songs we as teachers had just been learning. Most of these children (5th graders) smiled and thought it was very fun, even when learning songs in languages they couldn’t understand; Norway is becoming more and more culturally diverse, and by singing songs from Iran, Africa, or Spain tolerance for other cultures and learning to celebrate our difference is also being taught. There were, however, the expected eye-rolling preteen boys in the crowd.

Kor Arti’s ultimate goal is to reach every student throughout Norway, and not just the students whose teachers have attended Kor Arti courses. This is an ambitious challenge, as fewer teachers are attending courses these days (that comment was made by the presenter about North Trondelag specifically, on the day of our seminar). However, hope springs eternal; in November of this year two Kor Arti teams will be touring Norway, visiting more than 20 towns, and working with over 2,000 teachers.

Another way Kor Arti is getting closer to its goal of music for every child is by making their songs (many written by Kor Arti staff) readily available online. Schools pay for access to this resource based on school size, and anyone can purchase the course materials. Ease of use is key, and a number of songs are also available as videos teachers can use with their students. These use the “bouncing ball” principle: each word is highlighted in the song as it is being sung.

Kor Arti’s motto is to be livlig, lekende, lærerikt, og levende (lively, playful, educational, and alive) and my observation of their process indicates they are well on their way to bringing music to the teachers and students of Norway. I say Amen to that.

The World Children’s Day (www.mintweb.no), a collaboration between Levanger kommune (municipality), HiNT Røstad, Musikk i Nord-Trøndelag, Utdanningsforbundet (Union of Education Norway / www.utdanningsforbundet) and Rikskonsertene (Concerts Norway / www.rikskonsertene.no), is a free family festival celebrating art and culture from all corners of the world. 2014 is its third year.

This article is a part of Heidi Håvan Grosch’s column Rønningen Ramblings, which appears a couple times a month in the Norwegian American Weekly.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 24, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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