Parallelisms in traditional African system of music education and Orff schulwerk

  • William K. Amoaku Professor of Music, Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio


The acquisition of musical knowledge or, for that matter, any knowledge in any society is guided by a variety of factors prescribed by the life styles of the society as a homogeneous unit. There are as many distinct life-styles as there are societies and the norms and parameters that govern them are also greatly diverse. However, scholarship has shown that in spite of such diversities as may be encountered in the life-styles of the worlds peoples, there are certain often unsuspected underlying similarities in patterns of behavior. Based on the foregoing observation, therefore, it is neither unrealistic nor farfetched to propose that there are possible parallelisms in the traditional African system of acquiring musical knowledge and the system developed by the prolific German composer and teacher, Dr. Carl Orff. Although scores of documentary evidence have established differences between traditional African and European systems of education, it is necessary to reiterate them here in order to make my discussion meaningful.


Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition: A Study in Historical Methodology, Chicago; Aldine Publications, 1965
William Bascom, "Folklore and Literature" The African World: A Survey of Social Research ed. Robert A. Lystad, New York; Praeger, 1965, p. 469.

Christine Oppong, Growing Up in Dogbon, Accra; Ghana Publishing Corp., 1973

E.Y. Egblewogbe, Games and Songs as Education Media, Accra; Ghana Publishing Corp., 1975.
Symbolism in traditional institutions and music of the Ewe of Ghana, University of Pittsburg, Ph.D. Dissertation, 1975 (unpublished)

W.K. Amoaku, African Songs and Rhythms for Children, Mainz; Schott, 1971
Folkways, 1978