Teaching Music in Early Years 8th October 2016

Nadja Kraft lead an inspiring day of Early Years Music workshops at Canary Wharf College, including a engaging session with children. 


"It was impressive that Nadja took the time to speak with each of us before the day started to find out what and where we were teaching. The repertoire was beautiful and I'll use it!  (Even though I need to wait six months to use the Autumn song.) The sessions were run with delicious Orff process and the notes were wonderfully comprehensive; definitely among the best I've seen from many, many workshops. Nadja's extremely creative use of the cloth with the instruments for the first session, the Indian scarf fire, then the instruments, "water" and boat for the last session was simple and very effective. The use of the sensory bag for the Autumn song made me wonder why I'd never thought of that!  What a great idea!!" 

Course Participant 

Creating Music Together 11th June Plymouth 2016

This June we launched our first course in Plymouth at Marine Academy, led by late Buchanan. Here is what one participant had to say:

"Thank you for the great course on Saturday in Plymouth. I found it really good, very helpful for me at this point in my work and the day certainly left me excited to find out more about the Orff approach. I took away a lot from the day. . . how less is more, many ideas, introduction to xylophone work and probably most of all, increased confidence! I am already a member of the Orff society so perhaps our paths will cross at a future training day. Thank you for your time and for travelling to the south west." 

Manuela Widmer talks about 'Join in the Play' 18th & 19th June 2016 London

Manuela Widmer talks about her upcoming course 'Join in the Play!' London 18th &19th June 2016 from Orff UK on Vimeo.

Places are still available for this course, for more information and course bookings contact nadja@orff.org.uk. 

Creative Group Music Making York April 2016

Caroline McCluskey led a fantastic day in York featuring 'Rainy Day' compositions.  
Creative Group Music Making York April 2016

Crosspulse Keith Terry Workshop January 2016

Crosspulse led by Keith Terry and Evie Ladin came to London, January 2016 to give an inclusive workshop for teachers, teaching assistants, community musicians and anyone engaging with young children in music. Body Music - clapping, slapping, snapping, stepping and vocalizing is an amalgam of composition and choreography - music you can see, dance you can hear. Keith Terry is an internationally renowned percussionist/rhythm dance and beloved Orff teacher. Around 40 participants, many new to Orff, came to the one day workshop on 30th January 2016. Children at Canary Wharf College engaged in workshops following an explosive, Crosspulse assembly. Many thanks to Keith Terry and Evie Ladin for their engaging, creative work. 

 Crosspulse Leads Workshops for adults and children January 2016 from Orff UK onVimeo.

Courses and Activities this Autumn 2015

Creative Music Making 10th October 2015

The magical Soili Perkiö traveled from Finland to lead a course for the first time in over 10 years in the UK. The workshops involved a session with children which was very special to be a part of. Here is Soili enchanting us all playing her overtone flute. 

'Thank you so much for hosting this INSET. I thought it was absolutely amazing, and a total inspiration! I have used some of the things that were suggested during my own lessons this week and the kids have loved it all. I am so glad I came along.'

'It was extremely useful for me as I don't play any instruments but am musical so having ways of just using the body and voice is easy for me to implement.'

Nadja Koelich at Concert Canary London Autumn 2015

Nadja ran demonstration lessons with children that have been well attended, this works well when we hold our committee meetings. We will notify you when we run the next lesson and you are welcome to come along. 

York Summer School 2015

We had almost 40 participants at our Summer School this year in York. With out tutors Andrea Sangiogrio, Shirley Day Salmon and Indigo Moon Theatre. Here are some comments from our participants:

The content of the Orff ideas were fantastic I would struggle to fault it in anyway, the teachers were very inspirational and clearly passionate about their teaching which made me excited about the course. The length of sessions worked well for me and gave enough time in breaks to talk to others about their own practise. Great week, thank you!

Although the days were quite long, I felt that the distribution of the breaks provided enough restbite in between the sessions. Switching instructors after a couple of days also refreshed things and kept us on our toes. The content was ideal as I can use it straight away within my teaching practise.

I can't remember a week travelling so fast. What an amazingly fun filled, creative week spent meeting and working with wonderful people, excellent tutors and being musical. Waking up singing the songs and remembering the dances learned is a great way to start the day, if only it wasn't 5am when it happened An Orff-tastic week! Thank you Orff Uk
York Summer School 2015

Composing Music with Children 27th & 28th June 2015

Composing Music with Children 27th & 28th June 2015
  Rainer Kotzian led our 'Composing Music with Children' workshop in Richmond at the end of June. We had a lot of participants gather at Holy Trinity Primary School for a lot of movement, singing, dancing, playing instruments, composing in groups. Rainer is an excellent practitioner and runs his own music school in Bavaria teaching children and training adults. He has shared and given us many wonderfully engaging and imaginative ideas and we are so delighted he could come. We look forward to seeing him in the future. Thank you to all the participants who took part, what a wonderful weekend it was!

Rainer leads 'Gum Boots,' if you are a member the notation and teaching process is available under 'Dances' page. 

MVI 0221 from Orff UK on Vimeo.

Nadja teaches at Concert Canary

We held our latest committee meeting at Canary Wharf College on the Isle of Dogs Saturday 16th May. Hannah Forster runs a Saturday Music School called 'Concert Canary' where children learn instruments and come to Orff classes in the hall. Nadja Kraft was our guest tutor today with Sara di Santis helping too. We learnt a new dance from America where Nadja took us through the dance steps, moving in silence before playing the music. We learnt a new song using pictures and movements and sang about a Great Big House in New Orleans filled with different flavours of pie! The children very much enjoyed singing, dancing, playing instruments and we even managed to perform a piece in a round with an ostinato pattern playing on the drums. A big thank you to Nadja and Sara!   
Nadja teaches at Concert Canary

Composing Music with Children 27th & 28th June 2015

Percussion soundtrack activity from Orff UK on Vimeo.


Rainer is coming again! Remember this from last time he visited in Richmond? Creating a sound track to a Tom and Jerry cartoon. 

Don't forget to book Composing Music with Children 27th & 28th June 2015, in Richmond London.


Margaret Murray MBE 1921-2015

We bring you the sad news that Margaret died on January 31st2015. She was in hospital for two days and died peacefully in her sleep, of heart failure. Margaret dedicated her life to the cause of music education, translating and adapting the Schulwerk volumes for the English speaking world. She founded the Orff Society UK in 1964 and has remained a key member of the committee until now. Her work as a translator of German texts related to Carl Orff, and many other authors associated with the Orff approach, has been exemplary and much admired.

Margaret cared deeply about music education for all children and demanded the highest quality of teaching and musicianship from everyone she taught and worked with. The committee members of the society will miss her deeply – for her commitment, attention to detail and her care for everything we strive to do.

If you have a tribute, memories or thoughts you would like to share we will be hosting a Memorial page on our website. 

Please send messages to Sarah Hennessy (Chair) sarah@orff.org.uk

Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming 1928 - 2015

Lois lived a life that was filled with music – as a writer, composer, teacher, and teacher’s mentor she made a lasting impression on her students.  As an internationally recognized music educator, author and Orff Specialist, Lois was a powerful force in the field of music education and special needs education.  She positively influenced early childhood educators, generalist teachers, music teachers and most importantly hundreds of thousands of children with her work at The Royal Conservatory of Music and the former Toronto Board of Education.  Her legacy lives on in the many teachers she has mentored in Canada, the UK, Germany, Austria, The USA and South Africa.
A memorial celebration honouring Lois’ long and varied life will be held at 2:30PM on March 20, 2015 in Mazzoleni Hall located at the Royal Conservatory of Music at 273 Bloor Street West.  Cremation has taken place.

Margaret Murray MBE

Investiture for MBE awarded to Margaret Murray

Below is an account of the day Margaret Murray was awarded an MBE by the Queen, written in Margaret's own words. 

Knowing when and where this was to be held all started with a letter (dated 16thMay 2014) from the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, who’s Secretary was a Lieutenant Colonel. His first sentence read as follows:


I am commanded to inform you that an Investiture will be held at WindsorCastle on Friday. 18thJuly 2014, at which your attendance is requested.”

There followed all sorts of instructions – alternatives if you couldn’t attend at that time and place, how to get in, when to arrive (10am), how many guests (3), enclosed pink sticker for access to the car park, what documents were needed for both you and your party, an enclosed form to fill out for the four tickets of admittance, names to be worded exactly as they were in the document being used for identification, and so on.

The fact that it was to be held at WindsorCastle raised expectations that it might be the Queen who was going to officiate. I had later been given a car sticker for a special car park, one that was much nearer, indeed probably within the Castle area and near the entrance door to the Castle itself. I was glad of this, since the first hurdle was the grand staircase. I was already in a sort of haze, so I didn’t take in as much detail as I had hoped. Everywhere, on the walls, there seemed to be painted portraits of many ladies and a few gentlemen, rather in the style of Peter Lely.

At the top of the staircase my guests went one way (to the Waterloo Chamber) and I was ushered into a room with many others, we must have been about 80 altogether, some CBEs, some OBEs and some MBEs. We were relieved of our handbags and then offered a glass of most refreshing apple juice. Looking round the assembled company I noticed the stark contrast between the mostly elderly men in rather dark, well-worn suits, and the women, clad in an astonishing variety of extravagant colours and styles, not to mention the hats! (I was in a “smart trouser suit” and had no hat). I didn’t get to speak to anyone except someone awarded for services to the St. John First Aid and she was in uniform. I was keen to sit while I could, and the chairs were all placed round the edge of the room which put paid to socialising. We were next told, in great detail and very pleasantly, our exact “route” to the dais on which the Queen was placed, how to behave when there, and how to address her once she had spoken. So this was our first reliable information that it was indeed going to be the Queen.

The Queen’s dais was on the platform at one end of the Waterloo Chamber and all the guests were sitting in rows as “audience” in the main body of the hall. Our room had a door that led straight onto this platform from the Queen’s right. We now had to be arranged in a prescribed order in three different groups, so when our names were called out we lined up one after the other, CBEs first, OBEs next and then the MBEs. Each category stayed in line and an usher at the door controlled when it was your turn. You had to walk onto the platform to an usher, so placed at the side of the platform that when you had given him your surname you could walk in a straight line to the place, a little over a metre from the front of the Queen’s dais, where you turned and faced the Queen. This was where you made your bow and then stepped forward to the edge of the dais.

The Queen at once started to attach my decoration. (We had all been fitted with a flat hook, and all she had to do was to hook the safety pin of the decoration over this flat hook – a matter of seconds and no awkward moments). I don’t remember the exact words in which she asked her leading question but the conversation was as follows:

Q. In which branch of music do you work?

MM.  I introduced Carl Orff’s Approach to music education to this country in the 60,s 70s, and 80s, your Majesty.

Q. And it’s ongoing isn’t it?

MM. Yes indeed, Ma’am.

She then held out her hand and we shook hands. I was so impressed with her manner, very natural and easy, business-like, but sympathetic, and you did feel she was concentrated on you for that brief moment. What more suitable response could she have given than to say “And it’s ongoing isn’t it?” – even the choice of the word “ongoing”. There were three or four people in wheelchairs and I’m told she stepped off her dais and talked to them at their level.

After shaking hands I had to walk backwards to the spot where I had bowed before and bow again, and turn and walk off to the Queen’s left. We were then given back our handbags together with a case for our decoration. When about ten people had collected we were ushered in groups to go and sit in rows behind the assembled guests in the main body of the hall.  

The organisation was exemplary: clear, unfussy and friendly. It seems unkind therefore to end on a rather sour note:

While all this was going on some music was being played. I barely noticed it at first (though, thinking back, I do remember hearing the climax of the Intermezzo fromCavelleria Rusticana which I only heard at a distance (which was just as well)). Until after I had had my turn, I was concentrating so much on being sure I understood everything that was said (I have only one good ear.) The music was played by the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, aided to some extent by a pianist (unnamed), and conducted by a Major from the Corps of Army Music. In the booklet we were given as we sat down to watch the remaining candidates, there was a list, or perhaps a selection of what they were going to play, or had already played. Coming late into the Waterloo Chamber I didn’t hear much of it. The music was described variously as “Romantic”, “Opera”, “Traditional” and one or two other categories such as Film Music, Musical, Waltz, Baroque (JC Bach). Under “Romantic” were listed Chanson de Matin by Elgar, Grieg’s Solveig’s Song; and Warlock’sCapriol Suite - surely they didn’t play all of it?. “Opera” included theIntermezzo already mentioned and the ‘March’ from Handel’s Riccardo Primo; “Traditional” included Annie Laurie, Sweet Afton, Shenandoah (!!)I’m rather glad that, coming late in the order of things, I didn’t hear much of it. I dare say their role was to be very much in the background, which meant that everything was rather bloodless and the intonation in the violins was unreliable. Some Telemann “Tafel Musik” and similar types of music,composed expressly for playing while others are eating and talking, would have been more appropriate, but rather beyond the capacity of these players.

When it was all over we were offered a tour of the castle, but since we had a drive to our lunch place, a hotel in Egham, we declined the offer, and were the only people down in the quadrangle on this sunny day where we took a few pictures of ourselves. We had lunch, together with four more guests, in an ideal setting – a private room overlooking a garden.

At my age it is now difficult for me to organise things efficiently. David and Francine Coleman, in my party of guests, were so helpful: Going round suitable clothes shops in Richmond and selecting outfits they thought would be appropriate and then taking me to those shops to see which I liked the best; driving to Windsor in advance and getting to know the geography of the place and how the whole thing would be organised with regard to the car; going several days in advance to the hotel where we were dining and arranging that we had lunch in a private room, and of course driving me everywhere. A special thank-you to them.

From the Queen’s point of view, expressed in a paragraph in the booklet we were given:

“The Queen is escorted by either the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward or a Lord in Waiting who, after the National Anthem has been played, stands to her Majesty’s right and announces the name of each recipient and the achievement for which he or she is being decorated. The Queen takes the Decoration from a velvet cushion, held by a senior member of the Household. The Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood is responsible for ensuring that the correct Decoration is placed on the cushion. Her Majesty is also attended by the Equerry in Waiting who reminds the Queen of each recipient as he or she approaches.”

All those men standing there, fitting in their part of the proceedings! I didn’t notice any of them – I was so concentrated on saying the right things that it was just the Queen and me!

Margaret Murray MBE

International Conference for Music Education

Sarah Hennessy took part in a panel session at the  International Conference for Music Education held by ISME in Porto Alegre, Brazil 19-25 July 2014. The session was on 'The integration of Orff-Schulwerk with national curricula and standards. At the conference there were several sessions and workshops on Orff-Schulwerk. The next Conference is Glasgow in 2016.

Organiser- Sarah Brooke (ANCOS); Wolfgang Hartmann ; Hennessy, Sarah; Markku Kaikkonen (Finnish Orff Schulewerk Assoc of Finland) Mai Xu (China).

Congratulations to Margaret Murray on receiving an MBE

Posted on: Fri Feb 21 2014
Congratulations to our own Margaret Murray on receiving an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for "services to music" in the 2014 UK New Year's Honour List!

Margaret, founder of the Orff Society (Orff UK), has been at the forefront of the Orff movement in the UK for over 40 years. She worked closely with Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman to produce the English edition of Orff-Schulwerk: Music for Children (1958 - 66). From 1963 Margaret presented Orff courses throughout the UK, South Africa, Australia and the USA, and in 1965 she initiated and led the first English-speaking Summer Course at the Orff Institute, Salzburg. She has provided countless translations of all the important documents relating to the work of Carl Orff and the Schulwerk, an achievement that is highly respected world-wide. 

The New Year's Honours List is published on 31st December 2013 in the Times Newspaper. The awards result from a group of people (colleagues and friends) who recommend one person for their services in a particular area. A collective statement is sent to the Cabinet Office, where it is decided whether the application is appropriate and worthy. There are many different awards including MBE, OBE, CBE. Those awarded are invited to Buckingham Palace to receive the medal the represents the award. 

Although the collective statement definitely included many references to Margaret's work with Orff-Schulwerk, it was not mentioned in the award. Margaret has written about the contribution of her colleagues and friends in the UK and abroad. She would like them to know and realize that "if I had some success it has been very much indebted so often to what I have learned from them! They are very much entitled to, and I would like them to feel, some share in my award."

Reflections on Orff-Schulwerk: Essays in Celebration of Margaret Murray

Posted on: Mon Nov 11 2013
Reflections on Orff-Schulwerk: Essays in Celebration of Margaret Murray
Founder of the Orff Society UK and our current secretary, Margaret Murray has been at the forefront of the Orff movement in the UK for over 40 years. She worked closely with Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman to produce the English edition of Orff-Schulwerk: Music for Children (1958-66). From 1963 Margaret presented Orff courses throughout the UK, South Africa, Australia and the USA, and in 1965 she initiated and led the first English-speaking Summer Course at the Orff-Institute, Salzburg. She has provided countless translations of all the important documents relating to the work of Carl Orff and the Schulwerk, an achievement which is highly respected worldwide. 

In honour of Margaret Murray, Schott has published an edited collection of essays written by some of her friends and colleagues. They discuss different aspects of the Orff approach and some also share their experience of working with Margaret. 

Schott organised a launch even in September which was attended by the guest of honour, Margaret Murray, members of the Orff Society Committee and special guest Barbara Haselbach who features on the front cover, shown playing a hand clapping game with Margaret. 

At her 90th birthday celebration, Margaret performed and taught a body percussion piece using a clerihew (an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics) 'Sir Christopher Wren' by E.C. Bentley. The notation is featured in an essay by Kate Buchanan in the book. This is a recording of Margaret's performance. 

Hands on Music Summer School 2013

Posted on: Tue Oct 1 2013
Hands on Music Summer School 2013
  Our Hands on Music Summer School returned to Edge Hill University, this time with the addition of a wonderful dance studio. We welcomed participants from across the world and were led by three tutors, Andrea Ostertag, Andrea Vogler and Kate Buchanan.

Course participants commented:

"Brilliant tutors - all so different, all coming from different backgrounds and starting points but complementing each other so, so well!"

"Andrea Ostertag's sessions were great fun, useful and in a safe environment."

"Andrea Vogler also created an atmosphere where I felt comfortable to give it a go despite having no confidence in my musical ability."

"Thank you so much. Music has gone from being an intimidating subject to something that is now approachable. I feel like I'm feeling the beat."

"A really enjoyable week full of fun, laughter and love and lots of learning. Thank you. I look forward to the next one."

Thank you to everyone who organised the summer school and to all our tutors and participants. We look forward to our next summer school.

OrffUK at the Southbank Centre

Posted on: Sat Mar 30 2013
On the 1st March this year, children from William Davis Primary School, Tower Hamlets performed as part of the concert series inspired by Alex Ross and his book 'The Rest is Noise.'

The children performed pieces from Orff Schulwerk and invented music of their own based around the school motto 'Be the best you can be.'

According to Alex Ross in his book 'The Rest is Noise' Carl Orff's singular achievement was:

‘a massive cycle of pieces for children, the School Work [Schulwerk] project, which by way of infectious musical invention, instructed youngsters in the basics of modes, harmony, form and rhythm’.

Ross comments that Carl Orff’s profound passion for teaching ‘probably touched more lives than any music described in this book’.
OrffUK at the Southbank Centre

New Orff Publications

Posted on: Wed Oct 24 2012


Schott Music have announced the publication of two new books which are a must for followers of the Orff approach to music education.

'Orff Schulwerk Today - Nurturing Musical Expression and Understanding' by Jane Frazee contains a wealth of information and ideas for teachers of music to students of all ages.

Orff Schulwerk Today is addressed to all music teachers who want to develop clarity of purpose in a child-centred educational environment. The expertise of seven master Orff Schulwerk teachers is included to encourage skill development and understanding. Over one hundred lessons are presented to highlight musical elements and encourage self-expression. A CD of listening examples from a variety of historical periods and cultural contexts enhances the book.

'Quien Canta Su Mal Espanta!' (translated 'Singing Drives Away Sorrow!') by Sofia Lopez-Ibor and Verena Maschat is a song, games and dances book from Latin America.

A selection of songs, games, dances, stories and instrumental pieces from the Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela. This book presents a rich and varied selection of material from an immense geographical area, combining local traditions with foreign elements and influences to engage and inspire teachers and students. A DVD with practical demonstrations of the dances will help teachers present these materials in the classroom.

If you wish to order copies of these books please go to:


or email Schott's marketing manager on nicola.mather@schott-music.com

or phone Schott Music on 0207-534 0700 (fax: 0207-534 0749)