What is Orff Schulwerk?

Orff Instruments


Orff-Schulwerk is a way to teach and learn music. It is based on things children like to do: sing, chant rhymes, clap, dance and keep a beat on anything near at hand. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later. This is the same way we all learned our language.

Developed by the composers Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, the Orff approach weaves together the strands of speech and poetry, movement and dance, singing, drama, improvisation and playing musical instruments. Classes take place in a non-competitive atmosphere where joy, play and exploration lead naturally to the pleasure of making music with others.

The special Orff barred instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Playing them together as in a small orchestra, children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants.

Orff teaching involves building challenging music from simple elements such as echo and repeated patterns. Improvisation is a fundamental part of the process. Students become skilled in both collaboration and individual creative expression.

Orff-Schulwerk embraces the music and dance of cultures around the world and teaches those artistic traditions not as fixed artifacts but as fresh, evolving expressions of human creativity.