What is the ORFF Approach


The Orff approach to music education is based on the work of composers Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman, who worked as collaborators in the 1930s. Orff-inspired teachers enable children to learn through singing, dancing, and playing with musical material drawn from the imaginative and cultural world of the child. Creativity is at the heart of the approach, which is certainly not a method. Key principles are

  • Inclusive and collaborative experiences for all abilities with opportunities for participants to enjoy success in collaborative music-making
  • The centrality of elemental rhythmic experiences
  • A unity of language, movement and music
  • A nurturing of expressive and creative artistic behaviour
  • Opportunities to improvise and compose
  • An emphasis on the aesthetic
  • Quality materials and resources
  • A range of artistic activities through which children discover form and content in natural and creative ways
  • A carefully sequenced process in which learning is scaffolded through exploration and imitation in movement, speech and playing.



Since the 1960s, interest in the relevance and application of Orff pedagogical principles has spread throughout the world. Interest in the Orff approach in New Zealand has burgeoned in the last 15 years. ONZA is a national organisation of music educators committed to supporting the development of this approach within the New Zealand context. ONZA also seeks to foster research in arts-based education and is committed to developing resources for teachers based on a bicultural approach to music/movement education.  ONZA is a member of the Orff Schulwerk Forum, based in Salzburg, an international forum of Orff organisations. Membership throughout New Zealand helps increase ONZA’s voice in the promotion of music and movement education for ALL children in schools and the community at large.


ONZA’s goal is to support and enable holistic musical development by offering a wide range of professional learning opportunities, which support the application of Orff principles and practices in Aotearoa/New Zealand.


ONZA promotes:

  • Collaboration
  • Inclusiveness and diversity
  • Participation
  • Passion
  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • Integration of art forms
  • Professional skills and knowledge
  • Arts education research
  • Community


Through the growing membership of ONZA and the activities of skilled Orff practitioners, ONZA has an ever-increasing impact on music and movement education and community
music-making in Aoteoroa/New Zealand settings. That has been achieved through:

  • Workshops
  • Week-long certificated courses at four different levels
  • Encouraging the development of research in music and movement education
  • Community music and dance events
  • Supporting the development of Orff-based pedagogy in educational (including ECE), community and therapeutic settings.
  • The establishment of a collegial network


ONZA is an incorporated society (also registered as a charity) governed and administered by music and movement educators. Currently there are around 100 fully subscribed members nationwide. The Society has a governing committee elected annually for a two-year term.