There are a number of reasons that the Orff Music Pedagogy has been chosen on the topic of this essay. The basic issue at present in China is entrenched pattern of music education that means the Chinese music experts and teachers do not accept the new concepts of music pedagogy, instead of that, they still employed the traditional music pedagogy owning to the personality of the Chinese. Therefore, there are some problems, such as students lack creativity, the low teaching quality and the low quality of students. After 20th century, with the rapid development of music education in China, majority Chinese music educators pay attention on the music teaching. The Chinese teaching content and teaching method urgently should be reformed. Orff Music Pedagogy might be the appropriate music pedagogy to change the current situation in China. In the later part of this essay, I will discuss the positive and negative of Orff Music Pedagogy in order to retain the strengths and discard the weakness to apply this music pedagogy to Chinese music pedagogy.
This essay will discuss two sides of Orff Music Pedagogy. For one aspect, this essay will evaluate of the advantages of applying the Orff Music Pedagogy in Chinese primary schools, which includes the effective stimulation and the improvement on Children's creativity and personal quality, the Asia culture might be proved to be suitable, the benefits on Chinese music education. For another aspect, the disadvantages containing the obstacle of culture difference, the problem of insufficient equipments available in China will also be taken into consideration.
Before moving on, the background to Orff's method will be outlined. Dr. Carl Orff, the distinguished German composer, who is also the founder of Orff Music Pedagogy, met Dorothee Guenther in Munich, 1924 and originated the scheme of a "new kind of rhythmical education". Dr. Carl Orff (1983) explained that this idea regarding the interaction and interpretation between "movement and music education" was then be plotted and practiced since that time. The notion of Orff Music Pedagogy, also known as the Orff Schulwerk approach, can be concluded as the implementation of combining "music, movement, drama, and speech" into the classrooms of children music education, creating a relaxed environment and atmosphere that are similar to the children's world. The Orff's approach to music education has numerous advantages to children, but suffice it to say that the leading advantage is that it demands the innovation of the teachers and involves all sensory dimensions such as virtual, physical, and aural aspect of the children during their learning process.
The positive effects of applying Orff Music Pedagogy can be viewed from the following aspects. Firstly, Orff Schulwerk Music Pedagogy, which confers a favorable learning environment, can provide children with much more creativity, in their music education, than traditional teaching methods. In Music Pedagogy, music is a means to teach a man become a talent and because Orff's method has the very advantage to teach efficiently, Orff Schulwerk should be widely used in China (Dr. Clausel S.L.S. 1998). In Dr. S.L.S. Clausel's article (1998), he pointed out that Orff-Schulwerk Music Method is effective in teaching children music especially when using Orff approach to create an interactive environment with other peers. In this case, the quality of the students could then be improved. Additionally, as the nature of Orff Music Pedagogy is innovative and interactive, stated by Dr. Brock in 1977, this practice could largely enable the primary school focus more on the esthetic aspect. In fact, when applying the Orff Music Pedagogy to the classes, esthetic features must be the kernel, for the approach requires the involvement of various sensory organs so that children can do dancing, clapping and singing. Moreover, the innovation and creativity can be promoted during the learning process with Orff's approach.
In addition, Clausel suggested that Orff' method is suitable for an Asia culture because it can provide a relaxed environment for children in order to widen childrens' interest, arousing innovative ideas and improving the student's quality, which has nothing to do with cultures. Nowadays, many problems exist in Chinese music teaching, for instance, students lack the interest of learning music. Orff Schulwerk is an efficient way to change that situation, since it is a method that can stimulate student's interest regardless its culture. There is an example in Japan. Dr. Carl Orff himself mentioned in his speech (25th October 1983) that the Japanese children were responding to his approach spontaneously and teachers had become open-minded. Researched and studied in Japan in 1962, Dr. Carl Orff, the initiator of the Orff Music Pedagogy, was able to witness how compatibly and naturally his ideas are adapted and applicable to an Eastern culture. If the music educator could take a step forward, Japanese children could get accustomed and be effectively educated by Orff's approach. Therefore Chinese children who share similar cultures with the Japanese should likewise be absorbed the music knowledge effectively.
Furthermore, even though the current music education in China is confronting a number of obstacles and problems, they can be conquered by introducing the Orff Music Pedagogy to China. A recent article composed by Ding (2006) pointed out the difficulties of the music education in contemporary China and they are: the unclear positioning of music education, the overlook of the esthetic aspect and the poor quality of teachers and students. The localization of the music education is not in the control of the teachers but the emphasis of the esthetic practice and the quality of the teachers could be improved by the application of Orff's approach. As a whole, this should be significant as Orff Music Pedagogy fundamentally surmounts two or three barriers in Chinese music education that China is facing in the modern world.
Despite of the fact that the Orff Music Pedagogy has been used worldwide, there are still some difficulties of applying this westernized methodology of music teaching to Chinese primary schools because of the intractable cultural customs and language difference. Burnaby and Sun (Jun., 1989) have revealed a number of problems in their article when applying the western teaching methods to the Chinese education. They have put forward a variety of linguistic problems that the Chinese students are facing and some Western teaching styles are only applicable to a particular range of students in China. According to what Burnaby and Sun have researched, the Orff Music Pedagogy, which is a German music education approach, might not be feasible or less efficient if applied to China. At the same time, the research that Burnaby and Sun have done was mainly concentrated on language teaching and the Orff's notion is about music educating. Hence, it could make a difference when education is in the realm of music as music is beyond the nations and languages.
Besides, the sizes of the primary school classes in China and the availability of certain instruments and equipments are the most significant disadvantages when applying the Orff Music Pedagogy to China. On the one hand, the average size of a class for primary schools in China is around sixty and it has been criticized because there are little or no interactions between the teachers and the students. It's the same when music education is being conducted in Chinese primary schools. As it is mentioned before, the Orff Music Pedagogy will require a great deal of teacher-student interactions and tremendous size of the class will make the approach hard to implement. On the other hand, there are insufficient equipments provided in the Chinese schools as mentioned by Hamilton and Hilree J. (2005) in his article. It is evident that without professional instruments and teaching tools, Orff Music Pedagogy cannot be carried out in an efficient way or even unable to proceed at all. Thus, short-term speaking, the changes of this condition which involves training teachers, minimizing class size and purchasing equipments should take a long time and huge amount of financial funds, which is actually the disadvantage of applying this approach.
Nevertheless, the situation of having insufficient resources should be better in the future time, for the Chinese economy is booming and financial funds allocated on education are increasing. Based on Ding's (2006) perspective and for long-term consideration, the size of the classes in China could be smaller and schools could be better equipped, making the application of Orff Music Pedagogy more apposite and feasible, which will benefit the Chinese children in the primary schools invaluably in terms of music education.
In conclusion, the application of Orff Music Pedagogy in Chinese primary schools has greater amount of advantages than the disadvantages. In simple language, Orff Schulwerk Music Pedagogy is conducive to Chinese primary school because it is a good method for cultivating students, besides that, it could motivate children's interests and creativity effectively and most importantly this method could benefit Chinese music education in future times. However, owning to a kind of western musical pedagogies, Orff music approach may be not completely suitable for the current music education in China due to the limitation of resources and culture difference. Most significantly, the advantages are more crucial and vital comparing to the disadvantages as discussed above because those barriers and obstacles such as lack of fund and resources have solutions. Short-term speaking, there might be more disadvantages and less benefits. Nevertheless, to a long-term consideration, the application of Orff Music Pedagogy in Chinese primary schools could have a far-reaching effect to the Chinese music education system and that influence tends to be positive. One cannot underestimate this influence as it could benefit millions and millions of Chinese young children and the creativity arouse by Orff Music Pedagogy in the primary schools may lead a Chinese young child to compose his own masterpiece and become predominant in the future. All in all, the application of Orff Music Pedagogy can be both a lens through which we can see the future of Chinese primary music education and a mirror reflecting its unparalleled teaching notion and well-developed methods.
Burnaby, B. & Sun, Y. L. (1989). Chinese Teachers' Views of Western Language Teaching: Context Informs Paradigms, TESOL Quarterly, 23(2), 219-238.
Brock, (1977), Innovative music education: an investigation and comparison of the teaching methods of Carl Orff, Zoltan Kodaly, and Madeleine Carabo-Cone, (OCLC's Experimental Thesis, University of Mississippi, 1977). Retrieved from
Carl, O. (1983, October). Orff-Schulwerk Past and Future. Paper present at the opening of the Orff Institute in Salzburg. Published by Schotts, B, The translation is by Murray,M.
Clausel, S.L.S. ( n.d). Applications of Camborne's model of literacy learning and the Orff-Schulwerk Music method to the development of a curriculum model for Mississippi music education, The University of Mississippi.
Ding, M. M. (2006). The development and the reform of the music education in China since1980. (Master dissertation, University of Wuhan Conservatory of music, 2006). Retrieved from
Hamilton, & Hilree, J. (2005). Echos from a Teaching Adventure in China. Teaching music, 13(2), 24.