Carl Orff devoted much of his life to the development of a philosophy of Music for Children, based on his belief that music is the natural outcome of speech, rhythm and movement. His ideas and pioneering work have had a major influence on music and dance education throughout the world and today that work continues under the guidance of leading teachers and educators in many countries. The five basic German volumes of “Music for Children” by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman were published between 1950 and 1954. Volume I contains songs and nursery rhymes, melodic and rhythmic exercises, along with pentatonic instrumental pieces.
In 1952 the first edition in translation appeared, an English language adaptation by Doreen Hall and Arnold Walter for their Canadian and American students. A few years later, Margaret Murray independently developed a version (1957-1966), essentially to fulfill the needs of United Kingdom teachers. This Murray editions are used extensively throughout North America today.
Orff-Schulwerk: Music for Children has proved itself to be a stimulating source of material for music teaching. Carl Orff’s fundamental educational ideas have revitalized music education in nursery schools, at all levels of primary and secondary education and in special music schools, based on the belief that music, dance and language are inter-related and animated through rhythm. When children discover, invent, improvise and compose, their experience of music is intensified. These creative activities are complementary to those of interpreting and listening to music. All who take part are encouraged to contribute, not only vocally but also instrumentally. The Orff philosophy of music education is many sided; it is concerned with practical music making, it provides fundamental experiences and it lays the foundation for comprehensive music and movement training. Movement games and activities for body awareness in space, time and flow, lead to movement improvisation and dance forms.
Today, countless teachers and institutions are using these ideas. More and more teachers look for ways of involving their students in active music making. In particular, they seek to challenge their pupils’ creativity by the use of music, dance and speech – as media of human expression – as a foundation of all education.
At the opening of the Orff Institute in Salzburg in 1963, Carl Orff ended his speech with a quotation from Schiller: ‘I have done my part, now do yours.’ That challenge has been taken up by teachers worldwide