“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)!