Music changes lives. The stories of many artists, musicians, and enthusiasts prove just how much music helps in dragging people from a dark place. Chelsea Cook is one such testament. In her journey, she has experienced many ups and downs. However, her love for music and her hard work cut through any barrier. Now, she heads the Orffrageuous Publications, LLC, a premier elementary music program in Dekalb County, Georgia. They have performed in many locations across the country and have been awarded several accolades.
Through the program at Orffrageous Publications, LLC Cook hones young minds to unlock their potential by teaching them musical arrangements, particularly the Orff-Schulwerk method. Orff ensemble, or the Orff-Schulwerk, is a developmental approach that introduces music to children in ways that they can easily understand. For instance, in an Orff ensemble, children sing, dance, chant, make all kinds of movements, integrate a drama or folklore, etc. The approach makes music an enjoyable experience for children.
The love for teaching music sparked during the latter part of Cook’s graduate studies. She went into elementary education with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in vocal performance from Clayton State University and Georgia State University respectively. Even with her credentials, Cook had to navigate the teaching industry before making her break. She recounts her musical pursuit in an upcoming book Lemonade: Making the Most of What You Have. She said, “In this reflective manuscript, I talk about the highs and lows of my career from being rushed from my classroom to the emergency room, having the boss from hell, to triumphing on an international stage.”
Through her dedication, she brought her ensemble of young talents to many milestones. The group she formed, Dynamix, under the name “The Dynamic Dolphins” became the youngest and first xylophone group to ever perform at the White House. Their Orff ensemble also performed at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. To Cook, this is one of their most significant feats as only the most elite performances get the opportunity to present at the largest music education conference in the world. They were featured in many programs such as in America Got Talent in 2016, Channel 2 Action News, Good Day Atlanta, and 11 Alive. And the list goes on.
As an instructor, Cook is venerated by her peers. She was named as one of the Top 10 Educators of the 2018 Celebrating Teachers Awards for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She participated in the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference (GMEA) and took to 4 national championships. She is Dunaire Elementary’s Teacher of the Year for the 2020–2021 school year.
Two years ago, the Music Education Alliance recognized them with a Program Distinction award under the Dr. William P. Foster Awards. They received the recognition even when it is only given to middle and high school programs. The representative of Georgia, Congressman Hank Johnson, also gave them a Congressional Recognition Award.
There is no question why Orffrageous storms international stages and snatches distinctive accolades. The woman behind them is a visionary. “I knew that my experiences could help redefine our approach to elementary music education. When many see my group perform, many of them immediately think, ‘my kids can’t do that,'” she said. But she believes that anyone, no matter the circumstances, can learn.
Whether the ensemble’s viral video of I Dream of Chocolate, or a rendition of The Nutcracker, Mozart Serenades, Earth Wind and Fire, and songs of Michael Jackson, Cook thinks out of the box. Indeed, The seamless performances of Orffrageous are ones to look forward to. For more information about Orffrageous Publications, LLC, visit their website. Follow them on their official Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.