The University of St. Thomas


Bishop, Judith

Bishop, Judith

The Use of the Orff Schulwerk Approach Versus the Traditional Method to Develop Music Creativity in Third Grade Students
Judith S. Bishop

The purpose of the study was to determine if there were any differences in the growth of musical creativity in third-grade music students, two classes of which were taught through use of the Orff Schulwerk process (experimental), the other by more traditional means (control).

Classes were chosen as experimental or control in a random manner. Those students returning letters of permission were those from whom the seven test students were randomly chosen. The decision to use small test groups was based on the length of time needed to administer and score the dependent measure, Webster’s Measure of Creative Thinking in Music. Subscores on Webster’s test include Musical Extensiveness, Musical Flexibility, Musical Originality and Musical Syntax.

Twelve weeks were devoted to the review and teaching of third-grade concepts. The experiment groups worked with the process of the Orff Schulwerk. Introduction of each concept was preceded by review of known related concepts and followed by new material illustrating the concept. Culmination involved composition, improvisation, or both, utilizing the concept in movement, singing and a full Orff instrumentarium.

Singing songs from the Music (Holt, 1988) series and records and learning new songs by rote were the major teaching tools in the control group. Unpitched percussion instruments and bell sets were used on occasion. When used, ostinati were designated by the teacher (researcher) and assigned to the students. Movement was also rigidly assigned and confined to showing the beat or melodic rhythm, sometimes both. At the finish of the twelve teaching weeks, the same 21 test students were again tested using the Measure of Creative Thinking in Music.

Comparing pretest and posttest scores by means of the Mann-Whitney U test yielded statistically significant gains in Musical Flexibility (use of the parameters high-low, fast-slow, loud-soft). Examination of the raw scores shows that many students in the experimental group showed gains in Musical Originality (uniqueness) and Musical Syntax (form, musical sense) as well, though this trend was not statistically significant.

Capstone Supervisor
Charles E. Furman