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Holy Family College Blog

Music Education Designed for the Child: Introducing the Orff Schulwerk Certification Program - Level I

Posted By Rachel Ware Carlton On January 10, 2019

Music BlogLove of music and the ability to engage with music is a lifelong gift.

This is why focusing on music education for the young is so important. Introducing children to music at a young age and allowing them to explore their innate gifts for play, movement, rhythm and creativity are top priorities for any excellent music education program.

There are many methods of music education, and each method emphasizes a different combination of techniques to unlock the child’s natural affinity for music.

In this blog post, we explore one of the major approaches to music education, the Orff Schulwerk Approach, explain why this type of music education could be transformative for your music classroom and introduce you to Holy Family College’s new Orff Schulwerk Certification Program.


Interested in registering for this summer's Orff Schulwerk Certification Program? Registration closes June 15 and you still have time to submit an application! Find out more on our webpage

What is the Orff Schulwerk Approach to Music Education?

Orff Schulwerk music education is a pedagogical approach that emphasizes the child’s natural capacity for imaginative play, movement and rhythm, and drama and speech.

The goal of Orff Schulwerk music education is to teach the language of music in the same way that children learn their mother language: organically through intuition, repetition and integrated activity.

According to the American Orff-Schulwerk Association (AOSA), “the prototype of the active music and movement model known as Orff Schulwerk is the spontaneous play of young children in which imitation, experimentation and personal expression occur naturally and unconsciously. In the Orff Schulwerk process, aspects of play are developed consciously to involve learners with the elements of music and movement.”

What Does an Orff Schulwerk Classroom Look Like?

The Orff Schulwerk classroom is a joyful, dynamic place. The Orff Schulwerk approach is not systematic or steps-based which means that every Orff Schulwerk classroom will differ depending on the discretion of the instructor. Training in the Orff Schulwerk Approach gives music educators guiding principles to abide by or be inspired by but allows educators great flexibility in their implementation of the Orff Schulwerk approach.

The Orff Schulwerk Approach does involve four basic phases of classroom activity:

  • Preliminary Play
  • Imitation
  • Exploration
  • Improvisation

Each Orff Schulwerk classroom will reflect the imagination, creativity and interest of the students involved. However, in general, you can expect to see the use of drama, poetry, skits, rhythm games, recorders and percussion instruments as part of the Orff Schulwerk music classroom.

About Holy Family College ’s Orff Schulwerk Certification Program

Holy Family College is known around the world as a center for Graduate Music Education and its Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program. Building upon this success, Holy Family College is launching its Orff Schulwerk Certification Program – Level I in the summer of 2019.

Holy Family College’s Orff Schulwerk Certification Program – Level I will be held July 15-26 in the Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Throughout these two weeks, educators will develop an understanding of the teaching and learning process using the Orff Schulwerk approach to music and movement. Conducted in a joyful and upbeat atmosphere, students will study technique and improvisation, analysis and arranging, pedagogy, movement and recorder as required by the American Orff Schulwerk Association (AOSA).

Students have the option to enroll in the Orff Schulwerk Certification Program – Level I for graduate credits or noncredit. Those who enroll for graduate credit will earn three graduate credits. All students who successfully complete the two-week course will be awarded the AOSA level certificate acknowledging participation and number of course hours.

(NOTE: This certificate is not the Orff Schulwerk Certificate from AOSA – this is awarded upon completion of all three levels of Orff Schulwerk levels of training.)

Holy Family College’s Legacy of Excellence in Music Education

Why study Orff Schulwerk at Holy Family College? Because of our long-standing passion and excellence in the area of music education.

Through the work and legacy of Sister Lorna Zemke, one of the pioneers of music education in the United States, Holy Family College was the first higher education institution to offer a master’s in music education for the Kodály method.

Ever since then, the College has remained a center of excellence for music education, bringing together hundreds of graduate students and skilled faculty in summer programs that advance the methods and impact of music education techniques like the Kodály method the Orff Schulwerk Approach.


Want to learn more about the Orff Schulwerk Certification Program at Holy Family College? Check out our webpage for information about the schedule, fees, and more!

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Topics: Music Education, orff

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Deciding where, when and by what means to go to college can be a difficult decision process. We want to help! The Holy Family College Blog is intended to be a resource as you navigate these choices, from what type of school to choose to how to finance your education. Watch this space for helpful tips. 

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