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ORFF Music

Orff music is a fun way for children to explore music by doing what they love to do –      






Children learn to

                   play rhythms

                                             play melodies

                                                                      accompany songs


Orff music classes are a fun way for children to explore and create music. Orff music is a fun way for children to explore music by doing what they love to do – move, sing, dance, clap, and play. They learn to accompany songs and improvise rhythms and melodies using both unpitched and melody instruments.

The ORFF approach

Carl Orff (1895-1982) is probably best known as the composer of Carmina Burana. As an educator, he developed a unique approach to creative music teaching, known as Orff Schulwerk, which has inspired a global movement in music education. There are Orff music chapters for teachers in all 50 states, and in countries all over the world.

The Orff teaching process addresses the learning styles of aural, visual and kinesthetic learners, as well as the various intelligences described by Howard Gardner, psychologist.

In the Orff process, children learn through doing, exploring and improvising. The emphasis is on experiencing music in ways that are fun and exciting. While the children are actively making music, they are being guided through a step-by-step process that moves them forward through ever increasing skill levels.

Based on solid, pedagogical principles, Orff philosophy applies a structured, sequential development of knowledge and skills to help each child grow musically. However, Orff is more than music alone; it is comprehensive. Orff starts with language - the rhythm of the words. Rhymes, poems, and stories are an integral part of Orff classes. Because of the innate connection between rhythm and language, Orff music gives children a head start in their language development and reading skills. In addition, using local nursery rhymes and folk music, the Orff process is applicable in any culture and language. Thus, music from around the world can be incorporated into Orff music classes.


ORFF Instruments

Orff melody instruments played with mallets are unique to the Orff classes because they are child size, easily accessible, and have a good quality of sound. These instruments include xylophones (bass, alto, soprano), metallophones, (bass, alto, soprano), and glockenspiels (alto, soprano).

All instruments have removable bars so that “wrong” notes can be removed to make playing and improvising easier.

Unpitched metal instruments (triangles, bells, tambourines, cabasa, cow bells, jingle taps), wooden instruments (tone blocks, guiro, rhythm sticks, claves), and numerous shakers and drums are among the many instruments the children can choose to play.


Orff Music Education Benefits

Orff Music helps children:

  • Develop musical skills.
  • Enhance coordination.
  • Improve listening skills.
  • Increase language skills.
  • Expand creativity.
  • Build self-confidence.
  • Work cooperatively in groups 

Orff Music & Character Education

When combined with a character education approach, this playful method helps children to grow traits like confidence, honor, and patience, to name a few.

The Orff process presents opportunities for a teacher to weave development of character education qualities through the music class. These qualities may include cooperation, self-confidence, creativity, awareness and enthusiasm, among others. For example, the children learn honor as they listen to each other and work together to create the music they play. Each step in the process of music making can build self-confidence and expand creativity. Because each child is an integral part of the music, they become aware of their individual part to play as well as how they fit into the whole piece of music.

Ask an adult to say the ABC’s. Wouldn’t they hear the melody of the ABC song in their head? Can you remember the words to patticake and feel the rhythm in your hands? Does anybody remember School House Rock? These are examples of anchoring information through words, melodies, and rhythms. In Orff class the character trait of confidence might be explored. After a discussion of the concept, the children learn a rhyme about confidence. They move and clap to the rhythm, and then play the rhythm of the words on instruments.

Next, melody is added as the children sing the rhyme. The children then learn to accompany the song on the xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels. By this time, their confidence level is high enough to introduce improvisation and the music can be played for their enjoyment, or to share with others. When character education words are taught Orff-style, the words and concepts are anchored in a deeper, more powerful way.

Children move to the rhythm of the words, sing the words, play instruments to the words, and accompany and improvise melodies to the words. They are more receptive to the concepts behind the words. These positive affirmations become an integrated part of the child’s thinking. They receive and internalize these concepts and they actually have fun doing it.


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