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How Carl Orff teaching method can inspire user experience designers to design for children

How Carl Orff teaching method can inspire user experience designers to design for children


Carl Orff Method and UX design — Photo by Niusha Payami

Carl Orff and his approach to teaching music

Carl Orff is a German composer, conductor, and educator. He developed an approach for teaching music to children, even very young ones. This method is one of the best methods for teaching music to children.

Musical concepts are learned through singing, chanting, dance, movement, drama and playing simple instruments. Improvisation, composition and a child’s natural sense of play are encouraged.

Let’s review this approach:

  1. Uses simple instruments like xylophone, triangle, and flute, considering that kid’s cognitive ability is still developing.
  2. Educates the children based on games to create interest and constant progress.
  3. Uses folklore music, applies kids’ mental models based on the cultural and environmental stimuli.
  4. Attractive and interesting because of encouraging creativity through improvisation, dance, movement, drama, and composition.
  5. Adaptive and intuitive: a very simple lesson plan format that may be used for young children. It can be defined by the teacher based on students and the environment.
  6. It is based on progressive learning. students learn about rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form and other elements of music. Students learn these concepts by speaking, chanting, singing, dancing, movement, acting and playing instruments.
  7. It is rewarding. Children learn songs very fast as they are simple and fun. When children learn to play a simple song, they become proud and confident and they really want to continue the adventure.

How the Orff method can inspire designers to design for children

  1. kid’s cognitive ability is still developing. So they need simplicity, we need to limit writing and avoid content-heavy interfaces. Symbols, icons, and pictures should be used as a primary way to communicate meaning, sometimes adding a simple text works well. Eyesight of grade school children is still developing. It can be difficult for them to see and process smaller letters and images. Increasing the font size and line-height ensures that it’s easy to read for kids.
  2. The best way for teaching children is through gaming.
  3. Children need clear and specific instructions. Their logical thinking is still developing. Make sure that children can understand instructions and have mental models. For example, in a coloring app let them choose a colored pencil from a box of pencils, same as what they do in the real world. Using their existing knowledge reduces the effort required for kids to understand how websites or apps work.
  4. Children get bored easily and surprisingly understand authenticity and leave what is not interesting.
  5. Systems designed for children should be very adaptive, flexible and intuitive as the logical thinking in children is still under progress. Also, children change a lot because they grow very fast and a 6-year old is very different from a 4-year old.
  6. Considering progressive education as a building block of learning. It applies to all skills that we learn. It is very important for a user to learn complicated tasks based on several simple tasks already learned.
  7. Children like to be rewarded for everything they do. Give them feedback and reward in each step. Create the joy of confidence.

Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play, and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child’s play.” -Carl Orff



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