I have recently returned from the Orff International Summer School in Salzburg, Austria. I would like to take this opportunity to whole heartedly thank The First State Super and the Public Education Foundation for affording me this opportunity. During the course we were presented with so many invaluable ideas, resources and ways of thinking and I am still processing the wealth of information. But I would love to share some of the insights that most resonated me during my time at the Orff Institute.
To provide some context, Orff Schulwerk, or Orff for short, is a pedagogical approach to teaching music and movement, structured and sequenced in a way that’s supports students creativity. The approach was developed by Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman in Salzburg. Traveling to Salzburg to study at the Orff Institute was surreal and, at times, I had a feeling of returning home to the “Mothership.”
Learning from world renowned Orff practitioners was incredibly inspiring, but what I didn’t expect was the incidental learning that took place talking and singing with the other participants on the course. I was taken aback by the number of nationalities and cultures represented at the course. It was heart-warming to hear and experience the songs and dances from so many different cultures. It highlighted for me how young musical traditions are in Australia by comparison and made me curious as to how the Orff approach may be better utilised as a tool for sharing the songs and dance of Aboriginal Australians.
I have always loved the Orff Approach but have often found it hard to articulate why this pedagogical approach resonates with me so strongly. Wolfgang Hartmann summed it up perfectly during one of our sessions. He said “At the centre of Orff is the child, not the music”. I am not a music specialist teacher to train virtuoso pianists or to push all my students to study tertiary level Western Art Music. These pursuits have their place, but it is not in my Orff classroom. I believe in this approach because I believe in helping my students to be the best versions of themselves they can be, through Orff I can do this.
Since returning I have received approval to present on the concepts and ideas learnt in Austria and their application in Australian Music Classrooms at the ASME National Conference later this year and the Orff National Conference in 2020. I am excited to share my insights and hope that I can continue to advocate for the importance of a meaningful music education for all students and the role Orff plays in this.
First State Super Teachers Scholarship Recipient