Orff Schulwerk Education

Matthew Stensrud is currently teaching Elementary Music and Movement with an emphasis on the Orff-Schulwerk approach at George Mason Elementary School, an Alexandria City Public School in Alexandria, VA after teaching seven years at Annandale Terrace Elementary School for Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. Matthew was recently recognized as Annandale Terrace Elementary School’s 2017 Teacher of the Year and was the Spotlight Award recipient for Summer 2017 from the American Center for Elemental Music and Movement.

His classroom is a welcoming, safe and positive environment that incorporates the Responsive Classroom approach with playing, singing, and dancing – cornerstones of Orff Schulwerk.

The body is the impetus of movement and music and Matthew uses the body in various ways in the classroom - including body percussion as seen above.

The body is the impetus of movement and music and Matthew uses the body in various ways in the classroom – including body percussion as seen above.

Responsive Classroom is an approach to elementary education that leads to greater teacher effectiveness, higher student achievement, and improved school climate. Inspired by elementary classroom teachers, the RC (Responsive Classroom) approach recognizes that knowing our children developmentally and culturally is an essential part of teaching. RC creates an equal balance of social and academic curricula and employs this balance with students through an explorative and process-driven approach similar to what general music teachers employ in their own classrooms. RC and music education have many similarities and these sessions encourage teachers to both recognize these similarities and consider new ways to connect their classroom with the greater school community.

Orff Schulwerk is an approach to elementary music and musicianship that includes music, movement, speech and drama. In an Orff inspired classroom, students sing, say, dance and play through imitation, experimentation, improvisation, and composition as they grow into creative, confident musicians and movers.

Dance is both a social and musical part of the classroom and here, participants are learning a folk dance that includes space for composition. What fun!

Matthew received his certification in Orff Schulwerk from the San Francisco International Orff Course in 2013 and has since further his professional development with workshops in the Mid-Atlantic region and a Jazz Course with Doug Goodkin in the summer of 2014. He apprenticed in movement with Janie Vance in the summer of 2015 at the Villanova Orff Course in Philadelphia and is an Orff Schulwerk Approved Teacher Educator of Movement. In the summer of 2017, he taught Movement at the Winthrop Orff Course in Rock Hill, SC. He strongly believes in continual professional development for educators and frequently seeks opportunities to grow as an educator and leader.

Matthew also offers professional development opportunities to fellow educators – both inside and outside the music realm. He is a certified Orff Schulwerk Teacher Educator for Movement Levels I, II and III and a workshop presenter on Responsive Classroom for general education teachers and music teachers, Orff Schulwerk, elementary music, effortless movement, and jazz in the elementary classroom.

Matthew has been published in various Orff publications and contributed to Responsive Classroom for Music, Art, PE and Other Special Areasa book for specialists on Responsive Classroom.


Matthew shares his knowledge through workshops, presentations, and also articles – including this one, featured in The Orff Echo.

His articles:
The Orff Echo, Spring 2014: Complementary Approaches: Responsive Classroom and Orff Schulwerk
AOSA Reverberations, Spring 2015: 5 Simple Ways to Incorporate Responsive Classroom into Your Classroom
The Equity Line, a blog by The Education Trust, August 2016: What Students Have to Gain From the Arts
The Equity Line, a blog by The Education Trust, August 2016: Letting Students Take the Lead
Beginning of the Year Article on this website, September 2016: Responsive Classroom in the Music Room: A Beginning of the Year Primer
Innovate My School, May 2017: Bringing the Whole School to Life with Music

Matthew currently offers workshops for music teachers on movement, jazz, Responsive Classroom, and other areas in the Schulwerk. He also has helped general classroom teachers include Energizers and other music ideas into their teaching. If you are interested in some of his notes for workshops, check out the notes found below!


Leading a teacher educator course at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Matthew took his students outside to explore Sasa, a Polynesian folk dance performed seated!

Matthew’s upcoming and previous workshops:
April 2018 – Long Island AOSA Chapter Workshop, Hofstra University, NY
March 2018 – Northern New Jersey AOSA Chapter Workshop, Wayne, NJ
January 2018 – Florida MEA Conference Session, Tampa, FL
October 2017 – Maryland MEA In-Service Conference Sessions, Laurel, MD
August 2017 – Durham Public Schools General Music Teachers Professional Development Session, Durham, NC
July 2017 – Movement Teacher at Winthrop Orff Course in Rock Hill, SC
May 2017 – Adjudicator for Prince George’s County Orff Event
April 2017 – Philadelphia AOSA Chapter Workshop
March 2017 – Peabody Conservatory Saturday Series Workshop, Baltimore, MD
March 2017 – West Virginia MEA Conference Session, Charleston, WV
December 2016 – Arlington County Public School General Music Teachers Professional Development Session, Arlington, VA
November 2016 – American Orff Schulwerk Association National Conference, Atlantic City, NJ
October 2016 – Maryland MEA In-Service Conference Session, Laurel, MD
October 2016 – FCPS New Counselors Responsive Classroom Workshop, Vienna, VA
April 2016 – Mountain Laurel AOSA Chapter Workshop
January 2016 – Ohio MEA Conference Session – Responsive Classroom
January 2016 – Indiana MEA Conference Sessions – Responsive Classroom and Energizers
October 10, 2015 – Baltimore AOSA Chapter Workshop
August 2015 – Charlottesville Orff Mini-Conference Session
March 2015 – Levine School Infusion of Jazz in the Schuwlerk Workshop
March 2015 – West Virginia MEA Conference Session
January 2015 – Middle Atlantic AOSA Chapter Sharing Session
September 2014 – FCPS General Music and Responsive Classroom Session
June 2014 – FCPS PBIS Institute Responsive Classroom Energizers Session
January 2014 – Middle Atlantic AOSA Chapter Sharing Session
June 2013 – FCPS PBIS Institute Responsive Classroom Energizers Session


At a workshop in Morgantown, West Virginia, Matthew shared the similarities between Responsive Classroom and Orff Schulwerk through a crayon vs xylophone bar activity!

Feel free to reach out to Matthew at 513-703-8012 or at mstensrud@gmail.com for further information on scheduling a workshop, or use the following form:

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