Carisbrooke Elementary
North Vancouver School District




What is the Orff Schulwerk?

The Schulwerk was conceived in the mind of one of Germany's best known contemporary composers, Carl Orff. He considered the Schulwerk (literally – work for the school) his opus for children. In its entirety it represents a fundamentally new approach for music education whose elements, however, are not new at all.

The Schulwerk is concerned with what is basic and universal in the art of music. Elemental music was never music alone, but was always connected with speech, movement, dance and drama. It is this fusion of the arts that the child should experience for him/herself. The joy of active participation in a social setting lays the foundation for the love of music and for the humanizing influence that all art has had throughout man's history.

Orff-Schulwerk includes all the children in any given class group not only a select few. The student acts and moves rhythmically, speaks, dances, sings and plays instruments. The liveliness which is so typical of every Orff lesson stems from the child's awareness that the hour has come when he/she can act joyfully and constructively in ways that are natural to him/her. The teacher's task consists in guiding this enthusiasm toward the desired result.

A variety of media are employed to combine the child's natural love of play with the tools of learning. Speech, song, movement and instruments allow the teacher and the student a chance to explore the same concept in a variety of ways. The four different media also offer unique opportunities unto themselves; speech and chant combine in a natural ability of the child's with the rhythmic independence and improvisation needed in music; song employs folk material to develop vocal skill while also exploring a unique, cultural heritage; movement encourages a spatial awareness and co-ordination while allowing time for creative dramatics, improvisation and folk dance, instruments, pitched and non-pitched, afford an opportunity for further melodic development, right/left co-ordination, harmonic and timbre development, as well as improvisation.

The work is rarely done solo, as music is often a communal art. Teachers strive for a feeling of ensemble, of team work, of pride in the joy of creating and performing music.

It is the clear aims, content appropriate to the children's abilities and careful teaching process which are associated with Orff's elemental music that make it such a useful didactic approach.