What is Orff?

“Tell me, I forget, show me, I remember, involve me, I understand.”
– Carl Orff

What is Orff Schulwerk?

The Orff Schulwerk Pedagogy, or the Orff Approach, is an instructional method to teaching and learning music. Children learn music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later. This is the same way we all learned our language.

German composer Carl Orff and his associate Gunild Keetman evolved their basic texts into models for teachers to use worldwide. Orff Schulwerk uses music based on the traditional music and folklore of the country it is used in. At present more than 10,000 teachers in the United States have found the Orff Approach the ideal way to present the magic of music to their students.

For the younger grades, Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs, and dances to introduce musical examples to students. These materials may be traditional or original, spoken or sung, and they may be accompanied by body percussion, drums, and the ever popular mallet instruments. As students grow, they are given more instruments, and different parts to play to create a small ensemble. Ensemble playing at an early age encourages students to develop a sensitive ear, that they will need later in their musical lives.

In the older grades, students use their ensemble and ear training skills to play more advanced instruments in a more advanced ensemble setting. With recorders and band instruments, students are able to open more doors when creating and exploring music.

Why is Orff Schulwerk so great for kids?

Orff Schulwerk is total, active involvement in music making that incorporates speech, singing, movement, and instrument playing in a creative environment. It develops the whole child with a balance of emotional and intellectual stimulation.

Cited from the America Orff-Schuwerk Association website

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