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American Orff-Schulwerk Association Founding Members
by Joani Somppi Brandon
On Saturday, May 11, 1968 eight people with a shared vision came together in the kitchen of Arnold Burkhart, a Ball State University professor, and formed what is now known as the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. In this group were many that have continued to hold office and be leaders in this movement. Present at this event were Arnold Burkart, Norman Goldberg, Joachim Matthesius, Elizabeth Nichols, Jacobeth Postl, Wilma Salzman, Jacques Schneider, and William Wakeland.
William Wakeland played a unique role in the early days of Orff Schulwerk in the United States. Unlike other founders who were involved in elementary music education or teacher preparation, Wakeland joined the Orff movement through a different avenue. Wakeland, a choral music educator, was hired by Ball State University in the spring of 1964 for the 1964-65 school year. Ball State University had pioneered a two-week workshop on Orff Schulwerk in the summer 1963, administered by Candace Ramsey, an elementary music teacher at the university sponsored Burris Laboratory School.*
The first Ball State University course found success and was taught by an instructor from the Salzburg Orff Institute, Lotte Flach. Following the first workshop, Ramsey left Muncie to be married leaving the fledgling program and newly purchased instruments. A Ball State faculty member, Ken Robinson, took over the course for one year before moving to another institution. Wakeland was then asked to take on the administration of the Orff workshop beginning in the summer of 1965. Knowing that this program would be his responsibility, Wakeland participated as an observer in the second Ball State course in 1964. Robert Hargreaves, Chair of the Ball State School of Music, asked Wakeland for ideas of how to make the program more successful. Although an outsider to Orff Schulwerk, Wakeland had a pragmatic sense of what would help the course move forward. In the fall of 1964 Wakeland suggested that Ball State offer multiple levels of training in order to strengthen both the financial feasibility and pedagogical sequence since they were bringing in international teachers from the newly formed Orff Institute. In the summer of 1965 Ball State offered three levels of training over a four-week period. Orff Workshop I was held for the first two weeks, followed by Orff Workshop II in weeks three and four. During all four weeks a more advanced seminar was also offered entitled, Applications of Orff-Schulwerk in American Schools.
Wakeland also suggested that a demonstration class with children be incorporated into the training. The advanced seminar students participated with the children while working on practical applications in the classroom. While Wakeland did not serve as a teacher in the course, under his administration the Ball State program grew to a total of 143 registrations in one summer at its peak.
Arnold Burkart joined the Ball State faculty in 1967 and became part of the summer Orff workshop, although Wakeland maintained the role of administrator of the program for several more years. This collaboration began a lifelong friendship between Wakeland and Burkart. Although Wakeland did not continue to be involved in Orff Schulwerk, his vision and stable leadership strengthened the Ball State summer workshop and contributed to the founding of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association in Muncie, Indiana in 1968 and first convention/convocation in 1969.
In addition to nine years with the Ball State Orff Schulwerk program, Wakeland maintained an active schedule as a choral musician throughout his 28-year tenure as a Ball State professor of music education. He taught high school choral music in the Burris Laboratory School for all but one of those years. Since his retirement in 1992, Wakeland has remained active as the choral and handbell director at Hazelwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where his wife, Ruth, served as organist for forty years. He also served as the assistant director of both the Muncie Masterworks Chorale and the Anderson University Symphonic Choir.**
* Ball State was one of only two advertised summer courses in the United States in 1963. Analysis of Music Educator’s Journals, 1956-1981, by the author. This is supported by recollection and archival documents from Arnold Burkart, interview 2-22-2010.
** Interviews with William Wakeland, 8-10-08, 9 -29-08, and 1-25-10, notes held by the author.
Arnold E. Burkart, "The American Orff-Schulwerk Association: The First Five Years," American Orff-Schulwerk Association Supplement No. 2 (1973).
Arnold E. Burkart, personal interviews (August 10, 2008, January 28, 2010, February 12, 2010 and February 22, 2010), transcripts and/or notes held by the author.
Music Educator’s Journal, (all issues 1962-1965).
Patricia Osterby, "Orff Schulwerk in North America, 1955-1969" (EdD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988).
William Wakeland, personal interviews (August 10, 2008, September 29, 2008, and January 25, 2010), transcripts held by the author.
*Joani Somppi Brandon is an associate professor of music education at Anderson University where she serves as the Orff Schulwerk Certification course administrator. Joani earned her Master of Music Education degree from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana and is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston University.
Our mission is: to demonstrate the value of Orff Schulwerk and promote its widespread use; to support the professional development of our members; and to inspire and advocate for the creative potential of all learners.