About Orff Schulwerk


Carl Orff

Orff Teaching Approach

Carl Orff, a well-known 20th-century composer as well as an influential music educationist, developed a set of creative and inspiring music education method which signified a major breakthrough in traditional music teaching approach. His innovative ideas broke the conservative belief of spoon-feeding music teaching method and became one of the 20th-century top-four music educational mainstreams including Dalcroze Method, Kodály Method and Suzuki Method.

Orff Approach was developed by a German composer Carl Orff who showed strong interest in music even in his young age. He had natural sense and creativity in the art of drama and dance. The talent enabled him to compose music of innovative styles. Orff believed in the teaching approach of ‘learning from own experience’, and thus he combined local cultural features and qualities with poem, linguistic rhythm, musical pattern, singing, dance and musical instruments to compose impromptu music. This approach will enable children to have practical experience and deep feeling in the process of music learning.


  • Early in 1924, Orff advocated the combination of music and dance. He therefore composed music especially for dance classes and professional dancers. When he was receiving training in a dance school at Guntherschule, he requested all dancers to play musical instruments and dance alternatively during the performance. Orff believed that this could enhance learners’ sensibility and reaction to music and could lead them into the evolution of ‘Music – Movement – Movement of Richer Imagination – Music of Richer Imagination’. This developed one of the key concepts of Orff Teaching Approach.


  • In 1930, Orff started to compose music with the barest notes. He avoided using complicated harmony, chromatic scale and contrast. Based on this approach, he composed an opera named ‘The Bells’. In the period of time, he engaged himself in writing Orff Schulwerk musical teaching materials and composing operas. He even composed a symphony for the Children’s Dance Show at the Opening Ceremony of Berlin Olympics. Afterwards, he was invited to present his music teaching approach all around Germany.
  • The first volume of ‘Music Fur Kinder (German Edition)’ was officially published in 1920. Orff then completed the whole five volumes in 1954.
  • In 1961, he established ‘Orff Approach Learning Centre. An Honorary Doctor’s Degree was conferred on him by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in 1972, symbolizing his musical achievements.

Orff Music has been known for its simplicity and originality. The music is rich in sounds and combination of all kinds of musical instruments. With natural teaching approach, Orff music education aims at:

 accumulating learners’ musical experience
 developing learners’ potential in musicality


‘Exploration’ and ‘Experience’ are the key elements of Orff Teaching Approach. The two elements activate learners’ imagination and creativity, bring them into the delight of music, and open up their potential in musicality. As a result, accumulating learners’ musical experience is the ultimate goal of all.

Orff Cycle chart

  • Movement: to enhance sensibility and expressiveness in music through movement and dance.
  • Singing and Reading Aloud: to enrich the expression of emotions in music through learners’ inborn ability in singing and reading ballads.
  • Instrumental Ensemble: to experience the musical delight through solo and ensemble of body instruments, percussion instruments, Orff instruments and reeds.
Reference: Cheng, Fung-Ching (2002), Comparison of four contemporary music teaching and application, Kaohsiung, Fuwen Publisher.




香港奧福音樂協會 Hong Kong Orff Schulwerk Association (HOSA)