First International Orff Festival in Greece unites the body, the mind and the spirit

Get into some comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring along your imagination and plenty of enthusiasm. That’s all you need for a lesson in the Orff music and movement system; you don’t have to know music or dance, how to read a score or do a pirouette. This week (September 27-29) at the Moraitis School, the International Orff Festival is being held for the first time in Greece, with the participation of noted Greek and foreign music teachers. The Orff System is named after its creator, the renowned German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982). Maria Filianou, music teacher and president of the Hellenic Orff Schulwerk Association, which is organizing the festival, explains the Orff System. «It is inspired by the idea that music, dance and the spoken word are, as in ancient tragedy, three integral elements, which in the service of education help shape complete, balanced personalities,» she says. «His system doesn’t separate the arts. It is directed at the human being as a whole, including body, mind and spirit, and one of its goals is experiential communicative teaching. The system is very widespread in Greece. Public education has started adopting his principles. What is important is that this educational material always draws on cultural elements of the place where it is taught. It is not a system imported from Germany.» The lessons are practical: «Children and adults come into contact with simple musical instruments, such as xylophones, flutes, drums and maracas, with which they can learn about melody, rhythm and improvisation, and participate in small musical groups. Everyone plays the parts of performer, composer, audience and critic.» Among the interesting workshops at the festival are: «Teaching Music to Infants, Toddlers and Preschool Children,» with Professor Verner Bettiger of Germany; «Isadora Duncan and the Ancient Spirit,» with Jean Breschiani, director of the International Isadora Duncan Institute; «Movement as the Source of Music- Rhythm,» with Ulrike E. Jungmayer of the Orff Institute, Salzburg. For information call tel 010.674.3496