Amazing Happenings at AOSA

“What is Orff Schulwerk?” OS teachers hear this question all the time. The name comes from Carl Orff, the founder of the educational philosophy and approach, and the German word for “School Work”, to distinguish it from Orff’s compositions and other professional work. When the American Orff Schulwerk Association was founded in 1968, having a European training was a sign of prestige for American musicians. Conductors at all the major symphonies were European, and European educational models (OS, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Kodaly) were becoming increasingly popular here.

Now, 40+ years later, the terminology is limiting the public understanding of what we do. At the President’s Panel session today at the AOSA National Conference, it was proposed that the organization change it’s name to something along the lines of “American Elemental Music and Movement Association”. Of course, this was a completely impromptu and unofficial proposal from the audience, but everyone who spoke on it was positive about the possibilities of “rebranding” what we do to help get out our message of creative music making. The conversation has begun, and I predict the change will happen within the next decade (or hopefully sooner)!

2 thoughts on “Amazing Happenings at AOSA”

  1. Wow Tim.. That would be quite a change of the status quo. It would be much clearer in terms of what we do. I’ve always felt that having a name like “Orff-Schulwerk” teacher was cumbersome. It’s like a weird name that you have to spell AND explain to everyone every time you say it. There is zero name recognition out in the real world.

    Then again, it has always started a conversation. Everyone says, “What’s that??”

    This will be an interesting thread to follow. I predict reluctance to change. There’s a good sized contingent of traditional folks who adhere to the Euro model of teaching in the classic style. There’s an equally enthusiastic contingent of folks who have been trained in North America and aren’t as closely attached to the traditions of the Orff Institute.

  2. I agree, Brent. It would be a huge shift. After posting this, I had the opportunity to speak to several people Saturday/Sunday at the end of conference. As you said, some of our European-trained colleagues were very opposed to the idea.

    HOWEVER, I happened to sit next to Barbara Haselbach on the plane ride home, and she pointed out that the Orff Institute is actually named “The Carl Orff Institute for Elemental Music and Movement”, and doesn’t have Orff Schulwerk in the name! This is what I’m thinking about AOSA. Not that we stop talking about Orff Schulwerk or using the term, but that we change our name so that it is more understandable by outsiders.

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