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Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Students, area teachers introduced to music education program

Twenty-eight public school teachers, music education students and faculty participated recently in a 10-hour introduction to the Orff-Schulwerk approach to music education at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson

Black Line

The Orff-Schulwerk method of teaching children involves song, instruments, rhythm and movement. Dr. Dan Johnson, a UNC Wilmington music professor and certified Orff-Schulwerk instructor, led the clinic.

“This is an introduction to the levels courses, which are intensive, 60-hour, two-week classes,” Johnson said. “It is an idea or approach that may be applied in the classroom.”

Dr. Johnson put the class through the routines and offered free samples of musical activities to the participants. A certified instructor since 2005, he said Orff-Schulwerk is becoming very popular.

“It is used by 10,000 teachers in the U.S. and has been translated into 18 languages,” Dr. Johnson said. “It’s what children do naturally with movement, rhythm and playing instruments.”

Orff-Schulwerk, or Orff-approach, is a developmental method of music education for children. It was developed by the late German composer Carl Orff and uses very simple activities for children to create music.

Johnson with Students

Johnson with students

Black Line

“It is a way for all children to participate in musical activities that are fun for them,” he said. “Orff-Schulwerk engages kids in making music while teaching concepts and skills.”

Continuing education credits were available for music teachers, said Dr. Gary Wright, a UNCP music professor and clinic coordinator. Dr. Wright said UNCP plans additional introductory clinics.

“I could have filled this class three times,” Dr. Wright said. “For many reasons, Orff-Schulwerk works.”

Dr. Wright said the program enhances the National Standards of Music and fits into music programs because it is an approach to teaching music not a curriculum.

“There are any number of approaches to teaching music and all can be effective,” Dr. Wright said. “The Orff-approach is structured and easy to learn, and it can be integrated into any curriculum.”

Dr. Wright said he uses some of the Orff-Schulwerk methods in a church music program. Fun and great music are two key elements, he said.

“An ensemble of children playing this music builds a wall of enchanting sound,” he said. “Consisting of percussion, metallophone, marimba and glockenspiel, the instruments are gorgeous, easy to play and make beautiful music.”

To learn more, go to the American Orff-Schulwerk Association Web site at:

Dr. Wright said additional clinics are planned. UNCP’s Music Department may be contacted at 910.521.6230 or email

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