Students meet regularly with an Orff music specialist, who works closely with other faculty, including those in visual arts, instrumental music, and the classroom teacher.
Orff Schulwerk is a world-renowned and highly effective way to start students on a lifetime of musical knowledge and pleasure. It is a teaching and learning approach, not a method. It incorporates the spoken word with singing, movement, and the playing of instruments.
Music in the lower school is based on things children like to do: sing, chant rhythms, clap, dance, and play Orff instruments. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later.
Students in kindergarten through 2nd grade concentrate on developing the heard voice and come to identify a sense of beat through simple folk songs and playing games. Orff instruments include wooden xylophones, metal glockenspiels, and a number of unpitched percussion instruments. The instruments are layered together as in a small orchestra, helping students become sensitive listeners and considerate participants. Creative movement and folk dancing are special aspects of this program.
Students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades build on these emerging skills. Simple improvisation and creativity become the focus during these years. This segues into the mastery of composition and simple notation by 4th and 5th graders. Musical forms, singing in two- and three-part harmonies, and creating interesting textures are a part of the musical emphasis. Creative movement and folk dancing go hand-in-hand with this training.