By Mindy Cabral, The Magazine of Santa Clarita, August 2008
Many people do not realize what an important role music plays in our daily lives. Everyday music is all around us. It lives in our bodies as a heartbeat and voice, and travels to us from the out side world through nature. Nature is not only art for the eyes, it is an amazing pallet of sounds for the ears. Imagine the wind blowing, birds singing, water trickling, thunder roaring, waves crashing, even horses trotting. As nature is art, so is its sound. Today, people around the world use (or imitate) these natural sounds as a way to express emotion in a variety of styles. Children use sounds and movement from nature along with their own creative ideas in an approach to learning music called Orff Schulwerk.
“Orff Schulwerk” (pronounced Orff Shulverk, translated Orff School Work) is a funny name for an approach developed by German composer Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, that teaches children to learn, play, and understand music. Children naturally love nature, singing, chanting, moving, dancing, playing instruments, hearing stories, and playing games. These activities are used to teach music in the Orff Schulwerk approach. Musical fundamentals (steady beat, rhythm, pitch, dynamics, direction, reading and writing music, etc.) are experienced using language through the body and voice, and are then transferred to percussion instruments and the “Orff Ensemble”. The instruments in the Orff Ensemble include: xylophones, metalophones, glockenspiels, recorders, and other various percussion. Children also learn to sing on pitch, improvise, and create a musical form for performance. Like learning a language, reading and writing is introduced once a child is familiar with the sound they are making. Many folk songs from around the world are introduced giving children an awareness of the multi-cultural world we live in through a universal language they can understand. Nature sounds, poems, literature, storybooks, and visuals are also used to create drama and bring out emotion. Children around the world experience Orff Schulwerk in their own languages and those of other countries.
In my experience teaching children music, the Orff Schulwerk approach is the most successful and fun way for children to learn music. Even the parents in my classes enjoy this process of learning. Some have even asked if I’ll be starting adult classes!
© copyright 2009 Mindy Cabral