Orff-Schulwerk is a child-centred approach to music education, which uses songs, dances, rhymes, clapping games, poetry and stories drawn from the imaginative and cultural world of the child. Such material forms a starting point for teaching and learning activities and as a basis for exploring musical skills and concepts in an imaginative way.
A framework is established within which children improvise, compose and invent their own music, as well as learning to read and write music. This approach also employs an ensemble of instruments, which is typically comprised of a range of tuned and untuned percussion and recorders, although other traditional and non-traditional instruments may be added. Orff music-making uses elemental features such as simple scales and repetitive accompaniments, which enable children to quickly achieve musical success. Improvisation and composition are encouraged as an important part of the Orff classroom.
German composer Carl Orff and his associate Gunild Keetman developed this approach to music education over several decades in the mid- Twentieth Century. Since the 1960s, interest in the relevance and application of the Orff Schulwerk principles has spread throughout the world. Interest in Orff-Schulwerk in New Zealand has burgeoned in the last ten years, and there is now a national organisation of music educators (ONZA) committed to supporting the development of this approach within the New Zealand context.
Orff at Waikato
In October, 2006, the Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato signed a Memorandum of Agreement with ONZA, in terms of which the two organisations would collaborate in the development of three masters-level papers in Orff Music Education: Theory and Practice.
The two papers offered in Orff theory and practice invite participants to develop an in-depth, experience-based knowledge of both the musical content and the pedagogical ideas embedded within the Schulwerk. Students will critically examine these ideas and practices in a way that is informed by other pedagogically based approaches to music education as well as by historical perspectives, educational philosophy and learning theory.
The Faculty of Education’s Arts and Language Education Department is the first in Australasia to offer qualifications in Orff Music Education.