Orff Schulwerk takes its name from Carl Orff, the Bavarian composer who lived between 1895 and 1982. Carl Orff wrote extensively for the theatre, his most famous work is undoubtedly ‘Carmina Burana’. Carl Orff’s professional career was also dedicated to education and to the development of an approach to Music and Dance Education that we know today as Orff Schulwerk. Although Carl Orff had begun to explore educational ideas from the 1920s, the development of the Orff Schulwerk approach really gained momentum from the late 1940s through the work and practice of Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman.
Orff Schulwerk is an approach to Music and Dance Education that aims to stimulate elemental music making, dance and creative, artistic expression and activity. In Orff Schulwerk, Music, Dance and Speech are equal forms of expression. Other art forms are also celebrated and integrated within the Orff Schulwerk approach. In the 1950s, Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman produced 5 volumes of books entitled ‘Music for Children’. These volumes are collections of texts, songs and instrumental works that the teacher can use as sources of inspiration, starting points that can be brought to life with the children. Furthermore, the Orff Ensemble of xylophones, metalophones and glockenspiels was developed to nurture elemental music making. Today, the Orff Schulwerk approach thrives throughout the world in different ways.