Orff Schulwerk Music Education

Orff Schulwerk approach to Music Education

You may recognize an amazing piece of music for Symphony Orchestra and Mass Choir called ‘Oh Fortuna’ from the Cantata ‘Carmina Burana’. It is often heard on TV advertisements as a dramatic persuasion for you to buy products. It is indeed a fantastic musical work representing the composer Carl Orff in all his glory, which premiered in 1937.

Carl Orff was a German composer who not only wrote music, but had a passion for believing in all children and their imaginative creativity. Along with a devoted and outstanding music student, Gunild Keetman, the two educators began a Bavarian radio program based on their music education teaching philosophies, engaging children throughout Germany.

The ‘Orff teaching philosophy’ is based on building from children’s elemental music knowledge of singing, chanting, dance, movement, drama and playing of percussion instruments (both tuned and untuned). Orff’s approach is an inclusivity of music education for everyone, believing that each human being has within them music skills and creativity. This matches my own personal music teaching philosophy borrowed from another Hungarian composer and Music Educator, Zoltan Kodaly; ‘all children can sing’. Not only that but I believe everyone needs to have the chance to be exposed to the Orff approach and have fun learning music and how to create.

Through Orff and Keetman’s Bavarian radio program and the work of Orff and Keetman in the 1950s, resources were gathered in the form of what is now known as the ‘Orff Brown Books’: Orff-Schulwerk: Musik fur Kinder (Music for Children).

In 1949, Schulwerk teacher training began at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In 1961, the Orff Institute was established as a center for teacher training and classes for children (a dedicated building opened in 1963). The Orff Institute also serves as an information center for practitioners worldwide who subscribe to Orff and Keetman’s views of elemental music and movement education. Currently there are Orff Schulwerk associations in 29 countries, with international interest and activity continuing to grow and profoundly influence pedagogical practice in music and movement.

We have been very fortunate to have some of the great Orff Music Educators Doug Goodkin (USA) and Richard Gill (Australia) visit UNIS Hanoi and work with our students in this music education approach within the last ten years. I have also been supported by UNIS to successfully complete Orff level 1 and will continue my journey in Orff music education with Orff level 2 in the summer holidays.

Please feel free to contact me via email if you have the desire to learn music and create. As the old Chinese proverb from Confucius says: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Now’s the time, just do it!

Happy practicing!

Sally Oxenberry                                                soxenberry@unishanoi.org

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