Orff Education in Turkey

Best known in our country for his work entitled Carmina Burana, Carl Orff was not only an esteemed musician, but he was also an important educator. The artist’s educational method Carl Orff Schulwerk, which is known as “Carl Orff Approach”, recommends that elements familiar to children shall be used to give them basic music training. In other words, it advocates naturalness. The goal is to take advantage of all the different fields of art in order to bring out people’s intrinsic creative powers through rhythm, movement and speaking.


Orff Schulwerk in Turkey – First Approach

The first contact of Turkey with Orff-Schulwerk was as early as 1938, Paul Hindemith and together with him Dr. Eduard Zuckmayer acquainted Orff-Schulwerk and its instruments with the pupils of Gazi Educational Institute. The person who wanted especially to transmit the basic thoughts of Schulwerk was the composer and pedagogue Muzaffer Arkan, who was personally in contact with Carl Orff (1951 – 1956). He knew that the promotion of Orff – Schulwerk would be successful on the basis  of the Turkish music and culture by keeping the fundamental idea of  Schulwerk and brought in collaboration with the head of the Ankara Maarif College (now TED),  the many instruments, which were donated by Carl Orff to Turkey. However, their implementation eventually proved ineffective due to insufficient infrastructure. Carl Orff system needs to be integrated into the existing educational system in order to become permanent.

Early Music Education – an indispensable effort

It is well known that between the ages of 3 and 8 a child’s talents develop rapidly and naturally, so this is when creativity and emotional intelligence are established. According to scientific data, a child’s power of perception at this time is two and half times greater than a normal person’s. This is the reason why music education has to start at the pre-school age and be handled with great care. Early music education affects the child directly in its abilities and knowledge regarding music. In Turkey under the title “Pre-School Music Education” children are generally provided with chorus, individual instrument, and rhythmic dance training only in private schools and daycares.  While this is encouraging, by being solely open to private education this development is not enough to meet current needs. Realizing the implementation of Orff method, especially in state pre-schools and elementary schools, will open new doors in music, as well as in overall education, by supporting the development of future generations’ aesthetic and artistic foundations.

As it is in Europe, the most important topic in music education is that music lessons are taught by pre-school teachers with knowledge and experience, who have been specifically trained for this. In Finland, which scores the highest on all international exams and assessments, claims that this success is due to the fact that it trains its students with Orff system, and this is appreciated around the world. The reason for the success of the Finnish music education system is that teachers who are working in pre-school facilities receive a special pre-school education formation at university. This program at the university contains not only basic music education and pre-school education classes, but also child development and psychology, aesthetic education for children, children’s literature, drama, children’s choir conducting, music-play-movement and music-dance classes.

In Turkey, however, such highly equipped institutions, departments, or even programs that train “Pre-school Music Educators” are only newly forming. Furthermore, in departments, conservatories, or other music schools training music teachers, the major area course offerings in music education and courses covering cognitive development psychology education are insufficient.

Therefore we developed the “Project to Improve Musical Education in Anatolia”, in order to ensure Orff Education system could be implemented as part of music courses in all of the schools in Turkey. Since September 2010, the Ministry of National Education and Orff Schulwerk Turkey-Austria-Germany have been working within the framework of a joint protocol to ensure that this important project succeeds. Accordingly, it is extremely important that the Turkish Council Of Higher Education (YÖK) steps in in the next phase, in order to ensure that Orff Education continues to be a part of the Music Education Departments of Istanbul Marmara, Izmir Dokuz Eylül, Gazi, and Bolu İzzet Baysal universities, as this will enable this education to be provided at other universities that are deemed appropriate in the future.

Further information about the development of „Projekt to İmprove Music Education in Anatolia“ and „Orff Schulwerk in Turkey“ are available as download within the magazine „Music Education in Turkey and Orff Appraoch“ published by Andante Magazine in June 2015.

As a continuation of this commitment and the “Project to Improve Musical Education in Anatolia”,  the efforts in this field have won a new dimension due to the financial sponsoring from Finansbank, which has the same vision concerning children’s education in Turkey, especially in Anatolia on the subject of mathematics. Three young pedagogues, who are trained specially on Orff education within the system “Orff Schulwerk Cenctre Turkey”, will be trained on the highest level together with an elected international group for the first time, at the “Special Course” of the “Orff İnstitute/Mozarteum University Salzburg” where they will learn the Orff-Approach in detail. As a condition for the scholarship, the three pedagogues will come back to Turkey after their education at the “Orff İnstitute/Mozarteum University Salzburg” and will teach in fixed program periods the Orff-Approach in detail to music teachers in different Turkish cities and village schools in Anatolia within three years.  As a result of the domino effect, for the first time within this education it will be possible, that the vision of Orff-Schulwerk will reach thousands of children. More İnformation