The Orff Approach of music education uses very rudimentary forms of everyday activity for the purpose of music creation by music students. The Orff Approach is a "child-centered way of learning" music education that treats music as a basic system like language and believes that just as every child can learn language without formal instruction so can every child learn music by a gentle and friendly approach. It is often called "Elemental Music making" because the materials needed to teach students are "basic, natural, and close to a child’s world of thought and fantasy".
In order for the Orff Approach to effectively work teachers must create an atmosphere that is similar to a child’s world of play. This allows participating children to feel comfortable learning a new and often abstract musical skill, greater exploration of a musical instrument or musical skill, and keeps a student from feeling evaluated or judged by his or her peers and teachers. A child participating in an Orff classroom does not feel the pressure of performing that is often in tandem with music because every student in an Orff classroom is treated as an equal, even when performing a solo. The Orff Approach is used by teachers to encourage their students to enjoy making music as individuals as well as in groups. Children realize the joys of group co-ordination and cohesion. It also involves the participation of other adults and parents in music making. Thus it brings the role of parent in child education in a central position. From a teacher’s aspect Orff-Schulwerk is also a process of breaking down each activity into its simplest form and then presenting those steps one at a time to eventually become a completed performance.
In the Orff Approach "all concepts are learned by ‘doing'".
Students of the Orff Approach learn music by experiencing and participating in the different musical lessons and activities. These lessons stimulate not only the paraxial concepts of music like rhythm and tempo, but also the aesthetic qualities of music. “Orff activities awaken the child’s total awareness” and “sensitize the child’s awareness of space, time, form, line, color, design, and mood- aesthetic data that musicians are acutely aware of, yet find hard to explain to musical novices".
Unlike Simply Music or the Suzuki Method, the Orff Schulwerk approach is not a method. There is no systematic stepwise procedure to be followed. There are fundamental principles, clear models and basic processes that all intuitive and creative teachers use to guide their organization of musical ideas.
Instruments and tools
Orff considered the percussive rhythm as a natural basic form of human expression. Carl Orff and colleague Gunild Keetmanco-composed much of the music for the five volume series,Music for Children. These volumes, first published in 1950, are still available and used today. Music played on Orff instruments is often very simple and easy to play even for first time musicians.
Some of the instruments within the approach include miniature xylophones, marimbas, glockenspiels, and metallophones; all of which have removable bars, resonating columns to project the sound, and are easily transported and stored. Orff teachers also use different sized drums, recorders, and non- pitched percussion instruments "to round out the songs that are sung and played". The Orff approach also requires that children sing, chant, clap, dance, pat, and snap fingers along to melodies and rhythms.