Musical Musings

My Heros in Music Education – Part 2: Carl Orff

by Peter Rainsford

Carl Orff (1895-1982) was a German composer and music educator. He is best know for his cantata Carmina Burana and his Schulwerk is very influential in music education. Some years ago I had the pleasure of being involved in a performance of Carmina Burana at Theatre Clwyd in Mold. The music involved a large chorus and orchestra, plus parts for two pianos and lots of percussion. It was wonderful to be on stage surrounded by this wall of sound.

Orff’s Schulwerk is a structured approach to music teaching. It combines music, movement, drama and speech. It was developed by Carl Orff and colleague Gunild Keetman during the 1920s and Carl Orff worked until the end of his life in developing his teaching method.

Course are now held throughout the world and his legacy lives on.

I have used elements of his Schulwerk throughout my teaching career. The term ‘schulwerk’ is German for ‘school work’ or ‘schooling’, within the field of music. 

A considerable amount of Orff’s work involves singing and playing percussion instruments. He wrote numerous pieces that are particularly accessible to young children and at the same time are musically very interesting.

His music is also easily adaptable to be suitable for adults.

In my Children’s Music Workshops I have lots of activities that involve playing tuned and untuned percussion instrument and his compositions are a major resource.

I use his music or activities inspired by his music in virtually every lesson and while I have added my own ‘touches’ to the workshop over the years. I have a huge dept of gratitude to Carl Orff.

I have all the volumes of his ‘Music for Children’ which were taken from his ‘Schulwerk’ and I still find lots of delights within them.

Here are some tasters of his music .

Gassenhaur (popular song) used in the film Badlands (1973).

Four short pieces from Schulwerk

O Fortuna from Carmina Burrana 

Thank you, Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you for reading.