Comparison of the Orff-Schulwerk Music Education Approach in the United States and Taiwan

Ling-Yao Chang, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale


This research is a two-pronged approach to discover more about the implementation of the Orff-Schulwerk (music and movement education) approach of teaching in the United States and Taiwan. I used a teacher survey and a student survey that uses quantitative and qualitative methods. In the teacher survey, I asked about their preference for various Orff-Schulwerk activities, their attitudes in class and what they learned. Also, selected classes were video taped to observe the students’ activities in the Orff-Schulwerk music classes in both Taiwan and the United States. This study explores how the Orff approach works and whether it is effective or not. What are the teachers’ and students’ attitudes and thoughts about the Orff approach? The study looks at what people think of the Orff approach in America as well as Taiwan and how people use the Orff approach when they teach music in class.

Orff-Schulwerk teachers in Taiwan and America were given questionnaires by e-mail or in person. The questions were multiple choice, with space provided for additional comments. From these surveys, selected music teachers who were highly trained in the Orff-Schulwerk approach were viedo-taped while they were teaching grades 2-6. Target teachers in Taiwan and in the United States are those who have studied at the Orff Institute or have additional Orff-Schulwerk teacher training. After the classes were video-taped, the students were given a survey in person. This was a paper and pencil Likert scale short questionaire. The data will be analyzed and quantified in several ways which are based on the Orff-Schulwerk elements.

The results were that the Orff-Schulwerk teachers in America and Taiwan were similar.  However, the students were different. Taiwanese students did not perform much or answer questions. In the fifth grade, Taiwanese students did more music composition, even though they liked composition less than playing musical games. American students were more active in class and liked to perform in class. The American classroom observed focused on playing the Orff instruments.