Orff music therapy

orff music therapy

Orff Music Therapy was developed by Gertrud Orff within the specific clinical setting of social pediatrics in Germany for use with children with developmental problems, delays, and disabilities.

“At the beginning of my work as a music therapist, the first two concepts I considered to be ‘key’ were ‘initiative’ and ‘imitation’: did a particular child’s behaviour tend more towards the initiative or imitative side? A further concept was ‘emotion’: does the child show any at all? Does he show too much, or too little? Further, does the child show aggressiveness, and if so, why? What are the reasons for his stereotype behaviour? Using such concepts I tried to approach a child by means of an objective understanding of his condition”. (Orff 1989)

Following are some key principles used in the Orff method:

  1. Musiké, which is a total usage of the word and sound elements together with movement. The children will play with rhythmic or melodic elements and role play using this principle.  
  2. Improvisation is a key tenet in the Orff method. There is spontaneous free play as well as making music together. Improvisation can be a stimulus towards creativity for the child and in this, the music can also provide structure through the arrangement of the various musical elements including silence.
  3. Instrumentarium includes string instruments, keyboard instruments and also percussive instruments. Such a varied range of instruments encourage the child to participate actively and also become a way for the child to interact socially through joint music making.
  4. Multisensory music making where other senses are also engaged during the therapy. For example, “letting marbles roll along a metallophon into a hand drum or playing a drum so that balls will fly off it – can also serve to motivate a child to interaction”. (Voigt, 2017) “Music was believed not just as an inner soul experience but also a sensory experience for the children”. (Voigt, 2017)

Responsive interaction in the context of Orff therapy is when “the therapist is willing to accept the child’s ideas and initiative and to interact with the child at this level”. (Voigt, 2017) Provocation is another behavioural strategy used by the Orff therapist. “Provocation is used when it is necessary to support the child by bringing new ideas and impulses into the therapy situation when difficulties arise in the child’s action or interaction. In this case it is necessary for the therapist to adapt her support to meet the needs of the child and to involve the child actively in acquiring new competencies”. (Voigt, 2017)    

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