What is Orff Schulwerk?

Orff Schulwerk is an approach to music education pioneered by German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982) and his colleague, Gunild Keetman. Its foundation was concerned with the child: the needs of the child and the emphasis on nourishing the musicality of each child through elemental activities in music and movement. The Orff teaching process involves singing; body percussion; playing on a variety of both tuned and untuned instruments; movement and dancing; and speech activities to encourage active music making.

The Orff teacher studies the many processes that can take a musical idea from the simple to the complex. Mastery of the technique and exploring and developing the unique understandings of each student’s unique learning style takes a lifetime of study. Orff Schulwerk employs elemental techniques such as imitation, echo, ostinato, canon etc. Improvisation is a fundamental part of the process. It is an approach to which all may contribute and in which all should experience success.

We provide musical experiences which not only develop aural, visual, kinaesthetic and creative skills, but challenge the intellect. The cognitive development of a child is greatly enhanced by a well organised, developmentally structured, exciting music program. The child offered a chance to develop his or her musical potential, is being given an opportunity to experience richness in cultural heritage, self-esteem, success, co-operation, discipline and flexibility.

Inclusivity is a hallmark of the approach: age is no limit. It is an approach to which all may contribute and experience success.  The social value of group music making is reinforced in this approach, as is the importance of individual creative contributions. Because of its flexibility and adaptability, Orff Schulwerk has flourished throughout the world.  In the same way, it has become part of our Australian cultural heritage.

Photographer: Daniela-Maria Brandt Carl Orff-Stiftung/Orff-Zentrum München

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