Orff refers to a specific approach to music education developed by Carl Orff during the 1920s, which combines music, speech, movement, and drama into music lessons that are very similar to the way a child plays naturally. The term “Schulwerk” is German for schoolwork. Most of the time, when someone says Orff, they are referring to the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education. The fundamental principle of the Orff approach is the idea that children can learn music the same way they learn language. Carl Orff believed that just as every child learns their language without formal instruction, they can learn music using a gentle and friendly approach. It is often referred to as a “child-centered way of learning”.
The instruments associated with Orff-Schulwerk instruction are bells, chimes, glockenspiels, metallophones, xylophones, and timpani. Carl Orff believed that percussive rhythm instruments like this are the most natural and basic form of human expression. The music played on Orff instruments is often very simple and designed for first-time musicians. The Orff approach also has children sing, clap, dance, and snap their fingers along with the melodies and rhythms.
The Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education has a long and diverse history that can’t be completely explained in just a few paragraphs, but now you have a much better understanding of its underlying principles. If the Orff approach sounds interesting to you as a parent, teacher, or student, browse West Music’s wide selection of glockenspiels, bell sets, mallets and sticks, xylophones,
Here are some quotes by Carl Orff to give you a better understanding of his philosophy:
"Experience first, then intellectualize."
"Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child's play.
"Elemental music is never just music. It's bound up with movement, dance and speech, and so it is a form of music in which one must participate, in which one is involved not as a listener but as a co-performer."