Originally Posted by The Orffsite Webmaster on Monday, July 19, 2010

Curwen hand signs and Kodaly's rhythm syllables are not part of Orff-Schulwerk, though I've seen some Orff instructors use both. In theory I'm opposed to using both, especially at the K-1 level. K-1 children are concrete thinkers. Give them something real and not something abstract such as a TA. They wouldn't recognize a TA if it walked up and tapped them on the arm. They would recognize a peach or a bee. If the goal is teaching children to be musical and artistic, which is more musical, "Bee Bee Bumble Bee" or TA TA TITI TA. I have less a problem with solfege and hand signs, but would never learn a song on solfege first at the lower level grades. They need concrete words for learning songs. Language and rhythm are powerful links, although all language is not necessarily rhythmic unless you make it that way.
I am not, however, an Orff purist. I have found that first graders can read and clap quarter note/eighth note patterns with hardly an error using our friends TA and TITI, but I also found that they do the same using Peach and Apple or Bee Bumble. The rhythmic building bricks at this level are basic and you don't need many words. I do recommend that if you start out using fruit stick with fruit. Insects are cool too, but jumping between fruit and insects might get confusing. If you do use the abstract Kodaly rhythms, please drop TITI. It's too common a pseudonym for urinating here in the South and always elicits laughter when first introduced. Yes, they get over it, but why go through it in the first place? I believe the phrase that some Kodaly folks are now leaning toward is TahDee, which might drive the anti-drinking parents to run to your principal. (It's always something!)
As far as hand signs, I do recommend showing high and low using hands to outline the contour of a melody and to show skips and leaps. I wouldn't make a big deal out of hand signs until 2nd or 3rd grade. That doesn't mean not singing the intervals in the early grades. If you think your 1st graders are ready for the abstract syllables, the go for it. If they look puzzled then wait.