Project Proposal First Draft

Practice-Based Research Project Proposal

Orff Schulwerk – Music, Dance and Speech Education

Exploration of the intrinsic value of the Orff Schulwerk approach to creative group music making


Orff Schulwerk offers an interesting, multi-disciplinary approach for teachers to meaningfully shape music, dance and speech ideas for their students; it also offers ways into enriching musical and artistic experiences for the teacher as a an artist and as a human being.(McCluskey, 2014)

This belief was first expressed within my Final Proposal for the Approaches to Critical Artistry module. I believe that the Orff Schulwerk approach can offer Teaching Artists insight into practical and inspired ways through which to shape and facilitate opportunities for creative group music making and artistic experience. I believe that discovering and embodying the elements of the creative processes inherent within group music making and artistic activity can only be truly realised when Teaching Artists have the opportunity to fully engage and participate in this work. Recently, I participated in a week long summer school, hosted by Orff UK, in which I actively engaged in music making, dance, spoken word and puppetry. From this experience, I reflected:

Musicking (Small, 1998) with the other participants and teachers was wonderful and the experience reminded me of the importance of continually engaging in creative musical activity….. Active involvement in group music making and dancing provides a time and space for exploring musical ideas individually and collectively. It is a unique opportunity that involves negotiation, cooperation, sensitivity and can be extremely rewarding as you feel part of something very special and unique. Group music making is something that I facilitate and offer to groups of children and adults and so it is important for me to remember what it feels like to be part of a participatory group making experience as a member. It was interesting to observe my teachers, when they were active participants and when they stepped back to allow each group to consolidate their musical responses, a very important and delicate part of being an Orff Schulwerk teacher. (McCluskey, 2015)

It is important to remember the nature of Orff Schulwerk as an approach to meeting the holistic needs of the individual through artistic engagement. An opportunity for creative expression and fulfilment for the individual as an artist and an opportunity for the artist to discover the pathways and processes for scaffolding creative group making for others, within the context of teaching.

I believe that opportunities to gain experience of the Orff Schulwerk approach in creative group music making would be extremely valuable for Higher Arts Education students. I feel that this work would support the creative and collaborative practices of HAE students and would offer insight in how to plan and facilitate work of this nature for others within educational, community and therapeutic contexts.

Research Questions

The following research questions have naturally progressed from those which I initially proposed within my Final Proposal for the Approaches to Critical Artistry module.

The overarching question, central to this project is:

  • What is the intrinsic value of the Orff Schulwerk approach to Music, Dance and Speech Education within the different contexts in which I work?

I hope to gain greater insight, through my research, in the following questions:

  • How do I embody and share the Orff Schulwerk approach within my Creative Practice? (With a focus on creativity; multi-disciplinary and collaborative processes; improvisation; musical play; free and structured music making)
  • In what ways is my work meaningful for the different groups of people I work with?
  • How can I make my Creative Practice in Learning and Teaching more visible? How can I document my work more clearly? [With reference to The Reggio Emilia Approach & Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School and their work together in Visible Learning (Krechevsky et al. 2013, Edwards et al. 2012)]


Participatory Workshops

The research will be conducted through a programme of participatory workshops in the Orff Schulwerk approach. I will devise and facilitate workshops for:

  • Higher Arts Education Community Music students studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), eight workshops in the RCS
  • Educators/facilitators who work with music in educational, community and therapeutic contexts, six workshops in Garnethill Multicultural Centre
  • Primary School teachers who teach in Nurture Groups in Glasgow, four workshops in Primary Schools

Reflective Discussions

In addition to participatory workshops, I will conduct a series of reflective discussions with workshop participants to enable me to further engage in critical reflection of project questions.

Critical reflection will be framed within Stephen Brookfield’s four lenses model which considers “our autobiographies as teachers and learners, our students’ eyes; our colleagues’ experiences, and theoretical literature.” (Brookfield, 1995, pg.29) and will be recorded through journaling and my online WordPress documentation.

Interviews and Mentorship

Interviews and co-mentorship partnerships with the following individuals who work across Higher Arts Education; Primary School Education and Community Arts Education are my proposed methods for gaining richer insight of my creative practice in the Orff Schulwerk approach.

Mary Troup & Bob Marshall– Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Jenny Reeve & Christine McAndlish – Beatroute Arts

Jane Cerexhe, Douglas Chambers, Marie Weir & Maureen Thomson – Oakgrove Primary School

Moyra Hawthorn – Strathclyde University

Research Ethics

Throughout this research project, I will follow the ‘Code of Human Research Ethics’ as set out by The British Psychological Society (2014). Any ethical and moral issues relating to my research will be carefully and sensitively addressed. In this research project I will ensure the following:

  • Participants will be informed of the nature of this research project and will be invited to participate in practical workshops, reflective discussions, interviews and mentorship.
  • Participants will be able to engage in this research project in any way they choose and will also be able to withdraw at any time should they wish to do so.
  • In practical workshops, reflective discussions, interviews and mentorship, I will draw on my own observations and reflections. The observations and reflections of participants will only be documented and presented after permission from participants has been sought.
  • I will ask participants for their permission to document work through use of photography, video and audio recordings.
  • I will seek approval from the RCS Ethics Board before commencing this work.


I hope that this research project will bring me deeper insight into the value of the Orff Schulwerk approach to creative group music making. The following outcomes are also rooted within this research:

  • To nurture my understanding of how my creative practice is meaningful for different people who are working and leaning in different contexts.
  • To uncover how the Orff Schulwerk approach can support HAE students, who are studying within the RCS, in their creative, collaborative and teaching practice.
  • To share the presence of the Orff Schulwerk approach to Music, Dance and Speech Education more widely throughout the RCS
  • To learn how to reflect, evaluate and document my work more thoroughly.


Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass

British Psychological Society (2014) Code of Human Research Ethics. Leicester: The British Psychological Society


Edwards, C., Gandini, L. & Forman, G. (2012) The Hundred Languages of Children – The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation. California: Praeger ABC-CLIO,LLC

Krechevsky, M., Mardell, B., Rivard, M. & Wilson, D. (2013) Visible Learners – Promoting Reggio Inspired Approaches in all Schools. San-Francisco: Jossey-Bass

McCluskey, C. (2014)

McCluskey, C. (2015)

Small, C. (1998) Musicking – The Meanings of Performing and Listening. USA: Wesleyan University Press

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