What is the Orff Music Program?
The Orff music program was developed by Austrian composer Carl Orff, who incorporated rhythm and movement with music. In Orff classes, rather than “learn” rhythm, children “experience” it through movement, dance and song. Eventually, the method teaches children to read music.
Peggy Wise, director of a Chicago school for young musicians and a national advisor on Orff programs, says: Orff prepares children for note reading just as preschool gives them readiness skills for math and reading. They use all parts of their body to explore music. They stand for high notes, sit for low ones, and when the music picks up they run about faster, clapping their hands or stomping their feet to the beat. They also sing songs with easy to follow rhythms, keeping pace on xylophones, tambourines, maracas, or other handheld instruments. If they can sing a melody, they can learn to play it on the xylophone. They learn that to make certain rhythms they have to skip over notes and then come back to those same notes.
When they can sing and feel the music, they can transfer it to the staff. They learn that the staff is really a road map or a picture of where the notes are going. They can sing it. They can play it. Now they see and are ready to read it.
Increased physical coordination, concentration, listening skills and memory span are also an outgrowth of the Orff program, which combines imaginative play and creative expression with a music experience that affirms the individual’s self esteem by acknowledging the dignity and beauty of each child’s unique inner spirit.
The Conservatory’s Orff program begins with four year olds and progresses through to third graders. Early rudimentary rhythm exercises evolve into solid music theory skills and the introduction of private lessons on a specific instrument.
Leta Bontrager has her Orff Schulwerk certification, Levels I III, from the University of Denver and is certified to teach Music Education in Colorado for grades K 12. She is a graduate in music education with a piano major from Goshen College, Goshen, IN. Ms. Bontrager has a strong piano background and has instructed privately for more than 30 years. She has taught music and led Orff workshops in Jefferson County, Littleton, and Denver Public School Districts.
Ms. Bontrager’s Orff and piano skills reinforce the Conservatory’s philosophy of assuring solid music theory within the framework of experiential music opportunities which are age appropriate.