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The Principles of Orff-Schulwerk

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

Article by Wolfgang Hartmann; Introduction by Bethany Elsworth.


Wolfgang Hartmann - Principles of OS
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In his article “The Principles of Orff-Schulwerk", Wolfgang Hartmann addresses the ever recurring question, What is the Orff-Schulwerk? In collaboration with Barbara Haselbach they describe the concepts that were passed on by Gunild Keetman and Carl Orff in their creative work with children that incorporated elements of speech, music and dance. Together they identify key features of the Schulwerk that characterise the ways in which it is put into artistic and pedagogy practice.


  1. The individual is at the centre

  2. The social dimension

  3. Music is an integral term

  4. Creativity in improvisation and composition

  5. “Process and product” – the interplay of development and artistic result

  6. The so-called “Orff-Instruments”

  7. Orff-Schulwerk can be used in all areas of music and dance education

  8. As an educational practice, Orff-Schulwerk can also be implemented in other cultures


Read the full article at the link above to deepen your knowledge of “The Principles of Orff-Schulwerk” with a vision to use this understanding to enrich your own teaching practice.




Wolfgang Hartmann studied Pedagogy for Primary and Secondary School at the University of Würzburg. A State Scholarship from Bavaria invited him to study at the Orff Institute in Salzburg/Austria. Then he taught at “Orff Modellschulen” (public schools with extended music lessons) in Munich and he made music education programmes at Bayerischer Rundfunk, the same radio station where Orff and Keetman presented the Orff-Schulwerk.

From 2006 until his retirement in 2019 he taught at MUSIKENE (Centro Superior de Música del País Vasco) at San Sebastián in Spain. He served as business director in the Carl Orff Foundation and was on the Board of the International Orff-Schulwerk Forum Salzburg.

Hartmann has given Orff-Schulwerk workshops in more than 30 countries. He has written numerous articles about music education and is together with Hermann Regner and Rudolf Nykrin co-editor of instrumental pedagogical material at Schott Mainz. He is author of the book “Looking at the Roots – a Guide to Understanding Orff-Schulwerk”, Pentatonic Press, San Francisco in 2021.



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