In my classroom, I employ elements of both the Kodaly method and the Orff approach. Below is a brief summary of the Orff approach. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to know more!
Carl Orff (1895-1982) was a German composer and educator who is best known in the education world for the development, with several collaborators, of Orff-Schulwerk, also known as the Orff approach. Orff set out to create a marriage of music and dance for the theater, but ended up creating his unique approach to music education that focused on imitation, exploration, improvisation, and original creation. Orff’s friend and colleague, Dorothee Günther, began to use some of Orff’s ideas in the training of dancers and gymnasts at her Güntherschule, in 1924. This collaboration led to the creation of a curriculum based on the “elemental style.” Music and dance were broken down into their simplest component parts, mastered through performance, and then re-combined in novel ways. Orff’s later collaboration with a student of Günther’s, Gunild Keetman, led to the creation of five volumes of Musik für Kinder. These volumes form the basis of much Orff instruction today.
Orff’s approach is based on three important ways to explore music:
- Exploration of space through movement
- Exploration of sound through voice and instruments
- Exploration of form through improvisation
These threads are woven throughout Orff-inspired instruction and lead the learner towards an increased understanding of music literacy. The Orff approach is similar to Kodály’s method in that the goal is for the instructor to gradually release control and grant more musical independence to the student. Throughout each step in an Orff process, students move “from imitation to creation, from part to whole, from simple to complex, and from individual to ensemble.”
While Kodály’s approach is based on the singing voice as the most important instrument, Orff teaching brings in a wider array of musical instruments, including the namesake set of child-friendly diatonic xylophones and recorders.
Both the Kodály method and the Orff approach share the same goal: to make lifelong music-makers and literate musicians out of students and to give students the tools for musical independence. In the Anoka Hennepin school district, we employ both of these rich traditions to create a literacy-based, competency-based musical educational experience for our students.
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