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NLS Materials for Early Music Education

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Tomorrow we celebrate the birthday of one of the Twentieth Century’s most well-known composers and music pedagogues, Carl Orff (1895-1982). Although Orff may be best known for his cantata Carmina Burana, he is also quite well-known in the music education field because of “Orff Schulwerk,” an elementary approach to music he co-developed with his colleague Gunild Keetman.


Orff Schulwerk approaches music education as one would approach language learning. That is, children discover music in a natural, non-judgemental environment, which allows children the freedom to play and explore all types of music. There are specific approaches and applications of Orff-Schulwerk, dependent on the needs of the students and teachers. Orff-Schulwerk has been used as therapy for those with special physical and developmental needs, as well as for general early childhood education. Different countries (including our own) have professional organizations that award certificates in Orff-Schulwerk training.

Patrons interested in learning more about the Orff-Schulwerk method may find the following items from the NLS collection helpful:

Music for Children: Teacher’s Manual (BRM20339)
This book contains instructions for teacher’s who are using Musik für Kinder in their classroom.

Musik für Kinder (BRM28750)
This work comes in five volumes (10 volumes in braille), intended to build in complexity as students become more comfortable with singing the musical material:

  • Volume 1: Pentatonic
  • Volume 2: Major – bordun (drone) patterns and triads
  • Volume 3: Major – dominant and subdominant triads
  • Volume 4: Minor – bordun (drone) patterns and triads
  • Volume 5: Minor – dominant and subdominant triads

Music for Children, interviews with Doreen Hall, Donald Himes, and Derek Healey (DBM00263)
This Talking Book includes an interview with Doreen Hall, who studied with Orff in Salzburg and brought the Orff-Schulwerk approach to North America.

Kodály Method

Another major contributor to the field of early childhood music education is Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, and educator Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967), best known for the eponymous Kodály method. The Kodály method incorporates a number of different principles and techniques which, when combined together, are unique to this method. These principles include movable “do” (that is, the tonic or “do” that the students sing is relative to the key, rather than being a fixed pitch), hand signs that correspond to the solfège syllables, and movement, inspired by Émil-Jaques Dalcroze, the developer of eurhythmics.


Zoltán Kodály, head-and-shoulders portrait
Zoltán Kodály, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left. b&w film copy neg. [196-]
Here are some titles in our collection that delve deeper into Kodály’s techniques:

Orff and Kodály adapted for the elementary school (BRM35306)
Extracts from Orff’s and Kodály’s methods

Tricinia: choral method, 29 progressive three part songs (BRM23982)
Three part songs for chorus

Bicinia: choral method (BRM23979)
Introduction to elementary two-part singing


Of course, we have much more than what is listed above, so if you are interested in receiving any music from us please contact the NLS Music Section. If you are looking for material for beginning band, orchestra, choir, or piano please see our post from last year Band, Orchestra, and More: When Young Musicians Use Our Music

And as always, happy practicing!

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