Skip directly to content

Masterclass - with Catherine West

Into the Woods! Finding the Orff Forest amongst the Trees

Presented by Catherine West

An Orff lesson takes a learner on a magical pathway through a musical forest, inviting us to explore and even select our own direction, finally arriving safely at a creative end point which makes sense of the learning journey. As Orff teachers we can access many wonderful individual elements – our “trees”: those of musical style, curriculum, Orff Process, Orff Media, the Volumes, children’s games, traditional music of Canada and other places, western art music, to mention only a few, all growing from rich musical roots. Add in cross-curricular connections to social studies, sciences, math and other subjects and the choices are truly beyond measure. But how can we plan with so many desirables and mandates? This master-class will help teachers to identify the vision, the big picture “forest” and to populate it with a selection of wonderful, appropriately chosen, “trees.”


  • classroom-tested units for K-6 classes 
  • the magic and delight of the original Orff materials and sequence 
  • repertoire and activities from different times and places
  • Orff instruments, percussion, and recorder
  • moving, singing, listening and playing 


  • expectations, literature, masterworks of art or dance, themes, repertoire, instruments you would like to connect to your music curriculum next year


  • mini-units which prioritize key learnings but do not neglect the rich possibilities for other connections 



Monday, August 22, 2016 - 8:30am to Friday, August 26, 2016 - 5:00pm

St. Frances De Sales School

6656 Balmoral Street, Burnaby

This course works best for those with a background in Orff pedagogy but there is no formal prerequisite.


Catherine West is a Toronto Orff Specialist with an international reputation as an author, workshop clinician, course instructor and consultant. She was a member of the National Executive of Carl Orff Canada 2002-14, mostly as the Editor of the national journal, Ostinato. She is the Pedagogy Leader at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where she is also the director and instructor for all levels of Orff teacher training. Additionally, she teaches Orff Levels courses for the Nova Scotia chapter and for Vancouver Community College. Catherine recently completed a term as Instructional Leader in music with the Toronto District School Board, and now works with Smart Start™, a RCM research program investigating the use of music to enhance cognitive skill development in early childhood. She coordinates the Additional Qualifications (teachers’) music courses for the University of Toronto’s education faculty (OISE) and has worked for numerous clients including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, The National Arts Centre Orchestra, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Tafelmusik, numerous faculties and boards of education, Orff chapters and conferences, provincial music associations and the Ontario Ministry of Education.