How Orff is your Schulwerk?

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel C. Johnson, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:

Abstract: The focus of this article is the authenticity of Orff-Schulwerk practices, particularly in Americanmusic teaching. Since its adoption in American schools nearly 50 years ago, Orff Schulwerk hasenjoyed an enthusiastic following. With the assistance of the national American Orff-SchulwerkAssociation (AOSA), teachers and children alike have learned by making music creatively inthousands of schools across the country. While this approach is most obviously associated withthe barred instruments (xylophone, metalophone, and glockenspiel), its true identity transcendsthese instruments and other media. Instead, the actual nature of the Schulwerk is creativity asembodied by the Orff Process. Beginning with observation and imitation, this processencourages exploration and improvisation before creating in sound and movement. Only whenneeded to record a musical creation does the process include notation as a final and lessimportant step. Since its growth in popularity, Schulwerk teachers have access to abundantpublished and recorded resources. They include arrangements, lesson plans, songbooks, andcurriculum guides. The tendency of some American music teachers to use these pre-packagedmaterials as fixed musical experiences to produce well-rehearsed performances is actuallyantithetical to the Schulwerk. Instead, the Schulwerk celebrates organically createdperformances and thrives on improvisation. From its historical foundations and laterdevelopments, this article explores questions of authenticity in Orff-Schulwerk practices.Concluding with implications for music teachers and music teacher educators, the criticaldiscussion question is: How Orff is your Schulwerk?

Additional Information

Johnson, D. C. (2017). How Orff is your Schulwerk? Musicworks, 22(June), 9–14. Published in the University Repository (Seahawk DOCKS) with permission from the journal Musicworks of the Australian National Council of Orff Schulwerk.
Language: English
Date: 2017
Orff-Schulwerk, Music education--Elementary--United States, Improvisation (Music), Ensemble playing
Orff, Carl, 1895-1982.--Orff-Schulwerk
Music—Instruction and study--United States
Music—Instruction and study--Juvenile--United States
Improvisation (Music)
Ensemble playing

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