- About AOSA
- Local Chapters
- Make a Gift
- Conference & Events
- Publications & Resources
- Professional Development
- Scholarships & Grants
- Industry Resources
American Orff-Schulwerk Association Founding Members
by Mark A. Francis*
In the spring of 1963 Arnold Burkart attended a regional MENC meeting where he first heard a recording of an Orff ensemble. What he heard inspired him to attend the second North American Orff workshop that summer in Toronto where his teachers were Doreen Hall and Hugh Orr. Burkart was captivated by the Orff approach. He once recalled that this was one of the most exciting times of his life. Arnold returned to California and began infusing the Orff approach in the music programs he supervised. History was in the making. It was only five years later, on May 11, 1968, that the American Orff-Schulwerk Association (AOSA) was founded, and Arnold Burkart was elected the first President of the organization.
Burkart started his teaching career as an elementary and middle school music specialist in California. In 1967 Arnold moved to Indiana to teach music education courses at Ball State University. In December of that same year, Burkart sent a letter to several Midwest educators involved with the Orff Schulwerk movement. One of his purposes was to invite them to "a weekend convocation of all of us who are active in seriously promoting the use of Orff Schulwerk philosophy and methodology..." Response to the letter demonstrated the vitality and strength of the Orff Schulwerk movement, small as it was at the time.
An all-day planning session was arranged for May 11, 1968, at Burkart’s home in Muncie. Just five years after this historic meeting, the organization had grown from the original ten founding members to nearly 1,200 members representing 49 states and several Canadian provinces.
Arnold Burkart served as AOSA president for two years. He became Executive Secretary in 1970, and went on to publish a magazine series called Keeping Up with Orff-Schulwerk in the Classroom. This publication continued for ten years and emphasized curriculum ideas according to the Schulwerk approach. Burkart continued to advance the growth of the Schulwerk by teaching workshops across the United States as well as in Canada, Austria, Germany, Hungary, France, England, South Africa and Taiwan. Additionally, Arnold taught at the Orff Institute in Salzburg for several summers.
The scope of his work, both in this country and abroad, is truly impressive. These days, Arnold Burkart is retired but leads an active life in Florida. In his words: "Where Orff-based music education is happening – there’s where exciting things occur."
at the Charlotte Conference, 2008
left to right:
Arnold Burkart, Jo Ella Hug, AOSA President (2007-'09); B.J. Lahman
Arnold E. Burkart, "The American Orff-Schulwerk Association: The First Five Years," American Orff-Schulwerk Association Supplement No. 2 (1973): 3-12.
Patricia Osterby, "Orff Schulwerk in North America, 1955-1969" (EdD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988) 235-242.
Alan Spurgeon, "Arnold Burkart: AOSA’s First President," The Orff Echo 36, no. 4 (2004): 20-23.
*Mark Francis teaches lower school music and choir at the Bush School in Seattle, Washington. Mark earned his Master of Arts degree with a concentration in Orff Schulwerk from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and currently serves on the AOSA History Committee.
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.