Précis – Music for Children (Carl Orff)

Walter, Arnold. Carl Orff’s Music for Children (1959). The Eclectic Curriculum in American Music Education. By Polly Carder. 157-160.

Arnold Walter, author of “Carl Orff’s Music for Children” (1959), describes the Carl Orff approach to teaching music to children.

  • Walter attended recital at Guntherschule in Munich
  • The recital consisted of dance and orchestra
    • Improvised
    • Students switched from orchestra to dance and vice versa
  • Orchestra consisted of recorders, viols, bells, glockenspiels, xylophones, and every known kind of drum
  • The music mixed styles of older flavors (14th c) with newer ones (Stravinsky)
  • Rhythm was predominant, then melody, and then very few harmonization
  • Recital directed by Carl Orff
  • Musical development of children = growth of music history
    • Rhythm precedes melody, melody precedes harmony
    • Teaching a child “Minuet in G” will make him learn it mechanically
  • Start with speech patterns
    • Single words, phrases or nursery rhymes
  • Use stamping, clapping, and then move to instruments
  • Point is to be elementary and basic
  • Melody is made to grow out of rhythm
    • Slow and treated with “infinite care”
    • Two notes are introduced, then three and four, finally five.
  • Emphasis on pentatonic tunes
  • Major and minor melodies are introduced as a final stage
  • Rhythm patterns, melodies, and ostinato figures are used on the instruments mentioned earlier
  • Instruments are carefully selected and contrasted
    • Replicas of medieval ensembles

I have never heard of an approach to music education quite like this. It seems less methodical, yet more significant in foundational values, which is something that I think many schools would benefit from. As was referenced in this article; “Beauty is of value only when recreated by those who discover it.” (160)

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