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 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 find their moment.
Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs, and dances as examples and basic materials. These may be traditional or original. Spoken or sung, they may be accompanied by clapping and stamping or by drums, sticks, and bells.
The special Orff melody instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Played together as in a small orchestra, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants.
With Orff Schulwerk, improvisation and composition start students on a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure through personal musical experience. Learning is meaningful only if it brings satisfaction to the learner, and satisfaction arises from the ability to use acquired knowledge for the purpose of creating. For both teacher and student, Orff Schulwerk is a theme with endless variation.
The title “Schulwerk” is an indication of the educational process taking place: Schulwerk is schooling (in music) through working, that is through being active and creative.
Composer Carl Orff 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 and folklore of each country in which it is used. At present more than 10,000 teachers in the United States have found the Schulwerk the ideal way to present the magic of music to their students.
“As Orff Schulwerk educators, we are charged with teaching not just music and movement, but also respect and inclusion. As such, AOSA recognizes and denounces actions that undermine this work.” -AOSA
The Rocky Mountain Orff Chapter stands with AOSA in our commitment to speak up against systemic and violent injustices being committed against our students, our families, and our colleagues of color. As educators, we stand for inclusion, equity and justice. We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate both differences and commonalities. We intentionally build and nurture a safe and welcoming environment within our music education community, and seek to harness the power of collaborative music-making as a means to restore our connection and empathy.
We believe in our responsibility to use our platform as educators to set the example. We believe that being silent is being complicit. We believe that it is our responsibility as influential stakeholders in the lives of our students to critically reflect on our practices, and to speak up against the injustices that have no place inside—or outside—the music room. We believe that Black Lives Matter.
We acknowledge that we have substantial work to do in this area. Our chapter does not yet wholly reflect the students we serve. We are committed to serving teachers, hosting presenters, and promoting leaders who reflect our communities and our students. We will not always get it right, but we will continuously strive to improve.