Practice Based Research Project Final Proposal
Orff Schulwerk – Music, Dance and Speech Education
An exploratory study on the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music
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 essential for scaffolding creative group music 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.
Project Aims and Objectives
- To introduce Community Music 1 students to an Orff Schulwerk approach to Music, Dance and Speech Education through a series of six practical workshops.
- To explore what is the intrinsic value and meaning of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music, from the perspectives of the student learners and from the perspective of Community Music course coordinator Mary Troup.
- To document learner experiences of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making.
- To inform my creative practice as an educator and musician when devising and delivering Orff Schulwerk inspired workshops for Community Music students studying at Higher Arts Education level.
Project 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.
- What is the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?
- In what ways is the Orff Schulwerk approach meaningful for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?
- How can I document Higher Arts Education learners’ experiences of the Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making?
- How do I support and inspire Higher Arts Education learners, as artists and as teachers, in the areas of: musical play; creativity; multi-disciplinary and collaborative processes; improvisation, free and structured music making?
I also hope to gain greater insight through this practice based research project in the following areas:
- How do I embody and share the Orff Schulwerk approach within my Creative Practice and Teaching Practice within and out with the RCS?
- How can I make my Creative Practice and Teaching 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)]
- Improvisation in creative music making and musical play. Improvisation beginning in Speech, Music, Movement, Visual Art, Drama…..Why is this so valuable?
The research will be conducted through a programme of six participatory workshops in the Orff Schulwerk approach. I will devise and facilitate workshops for:
- Higher Arts Education Community Music 1 students studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS)
During participatory workshops, I will guide the CM1 student group in reflective discussion work. I will do this through asking for, in the beginning, reflections in relation to personal experience of workshop activity and reflections in relation to musical experience of workshop activity.
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.
Before the end of each workshop, I will invite the CM1 student group to complete a short feedback worksheet. Written feedback will be anonymous. An example of the feedback worksheet can be found at:
I will invite Mary Troup to be interviewed as part of this exploratory study. As Community Music course coordinator and an Orff Schulwerk pedagogue, I will collate Mary Troup’s responses to the following question:
What do you believe is the intrinsic value of an Orff Schulwerk approach to group music making for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music?
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 for Higher Arts Education students studying Community Music.
I hope that this practice based research project will enable me:
- To uncover how the Orff Schulwerk approach can support and inspire Higher Arts Education 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
Small, C. (1998) Musicking – The Meanings of Performing and Listening. USA: Wesleyan University Press