Orff-Schul­werk pedagogy

I wanted to create a music education approach, which would take into account the needs of the child, irrespective of their level of talent. My experience taught me that almost every child is musical, and that all have areas in which they can develop.

Carl Orff 1895 – 1982

An approach to music and movement education

Orff Schulwerk pedagogy is holistic, learner centered music and movement education. The pedagogy is founded on an interactive teaching process and its elements are listening, moving, speaking, singing and playing. Its approach to music making and dance moves from experimentation to improvisation and expression, and fuses musical expression with other art forms.

Orff Schulwerk pedagogy is not bound to any one environment or target group. It believes in everybody’s learning potential. Orff Schulwerk pedagogy is based on the belief in the importance of leaving room for the music educator’s own skills, innovation, and learning. The originators of Orff Schulwerk pedagoy are the German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982) and the German pedagogue, dancer and composer Gunild Keetman (1904-1990). When developing the pedagogical concepts, Carl Orff searched for a new expression of the Greek word musiké. Musiké means a combination of music, movement, dance and speech.

Carl Orff described his approach as an idea, a “wildflower”. If a flower is handled with care, it can blossom while still retaining its own identity, which is the essence of a wildflower.

The main features of Orff Schulwerk pedagogy

  • the human voice, language, movement, dance and musical instruments create a unified whole (musiké)
  • attuning the student’s creative capacity, providing stimuli and room for creativity
  • learning through experimentation and play
  • making music in a group by singing, moving and playing instruments is an opportunity to learn from and with each other in a group where skill level and motivation may vary
  • the educational process is adapted to each group, the teacher ensures to the logic of the process amidst the various possibilities
  • based on one’s own cultural roots: songs, dances, folk instruments, nursery rhymes, poems and stories; and getting to know the culture and history of other countries
  • instruments that encourage ensamble playing and lead to movement and individual expression
  • improvising, composing and incenting original material, combined with listening, processing existing compositions and gaining musical knowledge

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