Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Mrs. English?
I have been teaching elementary music for 22 years in Gwinnett County, GA. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from the University of Georgia (magna cum laude) and a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Piedmont College (magna cum laude). I also hold a Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Piedmont College (magna cum laude). I am certified to teach music, early childhood, and gifted education. I have a Certificate of Completion, as well as Master Class training, from the American Orff Schulwerk Association. I also hold a Level I certificate from the Organization of American Kodaly Educators and Level I training in World Music Drumming. I currently serve as the Vice President of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. I have the good fortune of being recognized not only as the Sugar Hill Elementary 2007 Teacher of the Year, but also the 2007 Gwinnett County Elementary Teacher of the Year. On November 2, 2007 I found out that I was also the 2007 Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year. Very exciting!

I am married and have 1 pet. My dog, Lucy, is a miniature schnauzer, but she thinks she is a person! I love to read and travel when I am not busy teaching music. My husband, Marion English, teaches music technology and Jazz Band at North Gwinnett High School, also in Gwinnett County. In the future, children from Sugar Hill Elementary will be in music programs at Lanier High School.

What is Orff Schulwerk?
Orff Schulwerk is a way to teach and learn music. It is based on things children like to do: sing, chant rhymes, clap, dance, and keep a beat on anything near at hand. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later. This is the same way we all learned our language.

Orff Schulwerk happens in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of making good music with others. When the children want to write down what they have composed, reading and writing find their moment.

Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs, and dances as examples and basic materials. These may be traditional or original. Spoken or sung, they may be accompanied by clapping and stamping or by drums, sticks, and bells.

The special Orff melody instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Played together as in a small orchestra, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants.

With Orff Schulwerk, improvisation and composition start students on a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure through personal musical experience. Learning is meaningful only if it brings satisfaction to the learner, and satisfaction arises from the ability to use acquired knowledge for the purpose of creating. For both teacher and student, Orff Schulwerk is a theme with endless variation.

The title "Schulwerk" is an indication of the educational process taking place: Schulwerk is schooling (in music) through working, that is through being active and creative.

Composer Carl Orff and his associate Gunild Keetman evolved the basic texts for the Schulwerk as models for teachers worldwide. Now translated into eighteen languages, Orff Schulwerk is based on the traditional music and folklore of each country in which it is used. At present more than 10,000 teachers in the United States have found the Schulwerk the ideal way to present the magic of music to their students.

Copyright © 2004-2008 American Orff-Schulwerk Association,

How often does my child get to come to music?
Students in kindergarten through fifith grade receive music instruction for forty-five minutes every eight school days. To see when your child's class comes to music, click here.

How is my child graded in music class?
Students are assessed in accordance with the board approved standards in the Gwinnett County Academic Knowledge and Skills.

Do you need parent volunteers for music?
Of course! Not only do I welcome parent volunteers, I also welcome parent visits. You are always welcome to visit music class with your child. I am sure you will be amazed at the learning that takes place in a short 45 minute period. If you would like to volunteer, please contact me.

What is the best way to contact Mrs. English?
E-mail! I check my e-mail in the morning and afternoon of each school day. You can contact me at or, if you prefer, you can call me at Sugar Hill Elementary at 770/945-5735.

Does music really make my child smarter?
There have been many studies relating the study of music to increased academic performance. Studying music allows a child to develop spatial reasoning skills, problem solving skills, mathematics skills, self-discipline, teamwork, and a sense of pride in a job well done. All of these extra-musical benefits are wonderful, but the real reason to study music is to learn to love beauty, to learn about your culture and heritage, and to learn about the world's civilization. How can a child develop as a whole person without studying what makes us human? If you would like to know more about music and the brain, visit my links page.