Music Education

What is Music Education?

Music Education is the process of helping an individual become a knowledgeable and skilled consumer and producer of music and the music-related. Music education is about more than learning how to play an instrument, it's about appreciating the depth and breadth of the world of music, from its historical roots to cutting-edge technology. The musician is both a consumer and producer of musical thoughts and ideas. Music education helps individuals connect with a variety of cultures, people, time periods, and perhaps most importantly, themselves and their peers through the study, practice, and performance of music.

Who is a Music Educator?

A Music Educator is someone who has completed a specialized course of study, often within a Bachelor or Master of music program, and who works within the field of music education. The Music Educator has an understanding of both the mechanics and theory of music that spans across multiple genres and cultures. He/she is skilled at demonstrating a variety of instruments from various families (wind, brass, string, percussion, etc.) and is able to perform and conduct music at a professional level. In the US, music educators are guided by an established set of standards that provide a foundation for a sound pedagogical approach.

National Standards in Music Education (From the MENC web site, 01-20-10)

1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
5. Reading and notating music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.

What is Orff-Schulwerk?

Orff Schulwerk is a way to teach and learn music. It is based on things children like to do: sing, chant rhymes, clap, dance, and keep a beat on anything near at hand. These instincts are directed into learning music by hearing and making music first, then reading and writing it later. This is the same way we all learned our language.

Orff Schulwerk happens in a non-competitive atmosphere where one of the rewards is the pleasure of making good music with others. When the children want to write down what they have composed, reading and writing find their moment.

Orff Schulwerk uses poems, rhymes, games, songs, and dances as examples and basic materials. These may be traditional or original. Spoken or sung, they may be accompanied by clapping and stamping or by drums, sticks, and bells.

The special Orff melody instruments include wooden xylophones and metal glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately. Played together as in a small orchestra, their use helps children become sensitive listeners and considerate participants.

With Orff Schulwerk, improvisation and composition start students on a lifetime of knowledge and pleasure through personal musical experience. Learning is meaningful only if it brings satisfaction to the learner, and satisfaction arises from the ability to use acquired knowledge for the purpose of creating. For both teacher and student, Orff Schulwerk is a theme with endless variation.

The title "Schulwerk" is an indication of the educational process taking place: Schulwerk is schooling (in music) through working, that is, through being active and creative.

Composer Carl Orff and his associate Gunild Keetman evolved the basic texts for the Schulwerk as models for teachers worldwide. Now translated into eighteen languages, Orff Schulwerk is based on the traditional music and folklore of each country in which it is used. At present more than 10,000 teachers in the United States have found the Schulwerk the ideal way to present the magic of music to their students.

(From the American Orff Schulwerk Association website, 01-20-10)

How Does DCM Support Music Education and Orff-Schulwerk?

DCM helps Music Educators by providing:

  • support for meeting the National Standards in Music Education.
  • pedagogically sound strategies for teaching music to children.
  • a participant-centered approach that promotes independent thinking and creativity.
  • group drumming, leadership, and improvisation skills.
  • a system of learning that rewards risk-taking and peer-support.
  • a wide range of activities that meet students' needs across multiple modalities of learning.
  • resources and material that are created by a certified Orff music educator.
  • classroom-specific goals and objectives that align with teacher and student values.


Kalani is certified in Orff Schulwerk, having completed all three levels of Orff-Schulwerk training as well as a Master Class (a student of James Harding, Sophia Lopez-Ibor, Martha Crowell, Konni Saliba, Susan Kennedy, and Doug Goodkin). Kalani has presented sessions and workshops at regional and national conference for the American Orff Schulwerk Association (AOSA) and The National Association for Music Education (MENC). His books and resources are used by music teachers in the US and Abroad.

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