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Orff Schulwerk
is an approach to music and movement education created by the German composer Carl Orff and his collaborator Gunild Keetman. It is a holistic approach that places improvisation, composition and creativity at its core.

Singing, moving, dancing, body percussion, speech and playing of instruments and other sound sources are the media of the Orff classroom, and these are integrated to provide engaging, artistic and musical experiences for all. Orff Schulwerk classrooms have instruments that may include xylophones, marimbas, drums, hand-held percussion instruments and recorders. Teachers provide learning opportunities for students that build on simple ideas, and through the interaction of educator and student as partners, this enables the teacher and the students to be integral to the music making community.

Carl Orff said that the elemental music of the Schulwerk was ‘a music exclusively for children that could be played, sung and danced by them but that could also in a similar way be invented by them – a world of their own’ (Orff. C, The Schulwerk Volume 3 of Carl Orff Documentation, His Life and Works, and 8 volume autobiography, Schott, 1978, p.212). Orff Schulwerk approach to music and movement education begins with the premise that children learn musical behavior through being actively involved in music, through listening, creating and performing.

Those working within the framework of the Orff Schulwerk approach must support this holistic view of education; be creative in developing engaging and educative learning experiences for all; be flexible in knowing that the activities planned will rarely go according to that plan; be courageous in allowing the students to work as partners in music learning; and believe strongly that contribution to, and involvement in a community of music makers will enhance well-being – that of the educators and the learners.