Orff Schulwerk

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Orff Schulwerk


“Let the children be their own composers.”
- Carl Orff

Composer Carl Orff (d.1982) 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, dance and folklore of each country where it is used. At present, more than 15,000 teachers in the United States have found in the Schulwerk the ideal way to present the magic of music to their students. 

Levels I, II, and III Orff Schulwerk Teacher Training Courses are offered at Carnegie Mellon University every summer.

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 is designed for all children, not just the privileged, talented or selected few. There is a place for every child within the ensemble and each contributes according to ability.

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 music ensues. The children move from imitation, exploration, improvisation to composition.
Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, stories, games, songs and dances as examples and basic materials. These may be traditional or original. Spoken or sung, they may be accompanied by body percussion (stamp, pat, clap, snap) or by unpitched percussion.

The special Orff melody instruments include wooden xylophones, metallophones and glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Played together, with the range of a symphony orchestra, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants in the community of music makers.

Current research indicates that children need a balance between emotional and intellectual stimulation to develop as healthy human beings. Orff Schulwerk provides this balance through total, active involvement of the whole child.

Orff Schulwerk is a teaching and learning approach, not a method. Its uniqueness lies in the incorporation of the spoken word with singing, movement and instrument playing as learning tools. It utilizes arts integration through drama, visual arts, music and dance.

With Orff Schulwerk, improvisation and composition start students on a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure through personal music experience.

Download the Orff Registration PDF
Download the Orff Flyer PDF.

For more information please contact
Dr. Natalie Ozeas at nlozeas@andrew.cmu.edu.