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Why Orff Schulwerk?

Why Orff Schulwerk?

Orff Schulwerk Speaks the Language of Play

There are many ways for children to learn music.  As a parent, it is hard to choose what program will be best for your child and how they learn. Here is why the Orff Schulwerk approach has proven to be effective for all different types of children after 36 years of music education.

The Orff philosophy was developed by German composer and music educator Carl Orff and associate Gunild Keetman. Overall, the Orff approach works because it can be used for children of all ages. It gives children the tools to comprehend music from a young age, and these skills can continue to be used as the child grows.


How Does Orff Schulwerk Benefit Children?

Just as children learn to hear and speak a language before reading and writing it, we approach music in the same way. The Orff approach gives children the opportunity to interact with and make music in multiple forms before formally learning to read and write it. Orff uses songs, poems, rhymes, dances, and games as a form of education. Instead of learning through memorization, Orff teaches musical skills through participating in music making. Music becomes a sensory experience where children utilize improvisation to foster creativity.


Additionally, children become confident and motivated through the Orff approach. Orff instruments are designed with removable bars, making the instrument simpler to use at first. This way, children can be successful at creating beautiful music from the start. Students play instruments such as xylophones and glockenspiels utilizing only pentatonic keys, ensuring the notes do not clash and everything is pleasing to the ear. Orff proves that everyone can make music.

This approach to music education increases the ability for self-expression, self-efficacy, and social skills. It also is an effective intervention and has positive effects in a therapeutic environment for individuals with varying disorders.


Young-Bae, Yun, and Kim Ji-Eun. “The Effects Of The Orff Approach On Self-Expression, Self-Efficacy, And Social Skills Of Children In Low-Income Families In South Korea.” Child Welfare 92.4 (2013): 123-158 36p. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

Gold, C., Voracek, M. and Wigram, T. (2004), Effects of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology: a meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45: 1054–1063.


What is Orff?

What is Orff?

Orff Schulwerk? What In The World Is That?

“Experience first, conceptualize second.” – Carl Orff

The Orff Approach, also known as Orff Schulwerk, is one of many approaches to music education for young children. Through this approach, learning music happens naturally and easily as children play and move. Music and movement are all related.

Music, movement, and speech are all skills to develop and enhance over time. Orff is child-centered and allows learning through doing, experiencing and improvisation. Students are encouraged to learn while making music through patterns and beats, creating new artistic movements in a space where they feel confident and in a way they feel engaged.

what is orff

Great! So what does this look like?

Imagine you want to teach a child a complicated note sequence on a xylophone. Instead of immediately placing them in front of a xylophone and expecting them to learn through memorization, you might play a hand game that showcases the rhythm or expression of the notes.

You show them a pattern with their hands, right, left, left, right. It’s a game, so they’re having fun. Only when they’re comfortable, you place the children in front of the xylophone and say “Remember that game we just played? Use these mallets and make the same pattern.”

Allowing them to experience and play around within the note sequence to naturally teach them. The Orff Approach provides an innovative and creative solution to enhance skills associated with learning music for young children.

At Music Rhapsody, we believe integrating play with learning is the best way to teach children. That’s why Lynn Kleiner developed an approach to teach young children music by adapting Orff Shulwerk for this early age. Making music a joyful experience from babies through preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school lays a foundation for a musical life. So, play on.

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