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Sing Move Nihongo: Sydney Japanese Language Teacher Incorporating the Orff Approach

I'd like to introduce you to one of my website design clients, Noriko Yamanaka. My sister-in-law is Japanese and I have developed a great love of the Japanese Culture. Please meet Noriko who shares her love of music and movement incorporating the Orff Approach.



What is your background?

After spending two years in Sydney when I was a child because of my father's business, I decided to return to Sydney. I worked as a Japanese tour guide in the red centre (what an experience!) for two years. Following that, I took Japanese teacher training courses at a language school in Sydney; then, I became a head teacher while working for six years at the 'Tokyo Language and Culture Centre'. I trained prospective Japanese teachers and developed teaching resources for all levels, including business protocol for adult learners and teachers' manuals on how to teach Japanese using Direct-method (teaching using only Japanese).

After I obtained a Grad Dip in teaching, I worked for five years teaching Japanese to primary children in the beautiful Southern Highlands. For the last fourteen years, I have been working as a Japanese teacher for International Grammar School, where I incorporate 'Orff Approach' into my daily Japanese lessons. As well as running language camp and STEAM Japanese cultural event for the school – I run two STEAM events (the theme was Japanese summer event 'Tanabata' (Star Festival). Spring event 'Kodomo no-hi '(Children's Celebration Day) was a great success, and I have a third STEAM Japanese cultural event 'Otsuki-mi' (Moon viewing), this September.

sing move nihongo

When did you find an interest in music?

My father wanted to become a conductor (his dream job), so I grew up listening to classical music. My father played piano and violin, and we often had music sessions at home – my father played the piano, and I sang traditional Japanese or other popular songs. I started to learn piano at the age of 7 and continued to play until high school age.


Since returning to Sydney, I started to learn violin and have enjoyed playing in various orchestras for many years. Music is a big part of my life and inspires and enriches my life.

What is (multi-sensory) Orff Approach

Orff Approach's motto is to sing, improvise and move and explore endless creativity.


The Orff Schulwerk, or simply the Orff Approach, is a developmental approach used in music education. It combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons similar to a child's world of play. It was developed by the German composer Carl Orff and colleague Gunild Keetman during the 1920s.

I was fascinated when I first took the level 1 Orff Course, and the presenter taught us the 'Fruits song' using body movements in pairs. As I'm not a native English speaker, I experienced how it was easy to remember words = vocabulary/speech = language (teaching Japanese) using movement and how fun it was to create a small sequence with the groups without any pressure.


floral sneakers

I quickly thought, how can I use this approach in my Japanese teaching?


Since then, I have attended many national Orff workshops and conferences in Australia and international Orff Summers Courses in Salzburg, Austria and in Nitra, Slovakia. I have attended many online courses since the pandemic.

I have developed my Orff resource into my Japanese teaching and school events and Japanese cultural workshops during school holidays.


I have witnessed spontaneous children's creativity and still feel inspired by the power of 'Orff Approach'.

There are 'Orff Association' in every state in Australia and worldwide. It is a huge community in which I'm privileged to be involved. I love Orff Approach because any age (children to adults, even older adults in nursing homes) can enjoy this creative approach.


I have Orff friends around the world, and we all connect to and inspire each other, and I feel so grateful that I'm in Orff community, and this is my life work which I would like to continue to develop.


If you would like to know more about Orff Approach, please click here

Japanese culture lessons

Explain Sing Move Nihongo

It has been my goal to set up my website, 'Sing Move Nihongo,' where I offer Japanese cultural programs for both children and adults. The website will be able to support language teachers in Australia and overseas if they would like to use my Japanese songbook (created with music educator Michele Ellis) in their teaching.


Any language teachers can adapt their language using fun Orff Approach games and songs.

Sharing and promoting Orff resources to music teachers in Australia and around the world is the primary purpose of this website, and I will publish a Japanese music songbook with my music colleague, which we developed as a resource for the last ten years.

Then I will create Japanese cultural picture books with a Japanese illustrator according to my four Japanese cultural workshops. Music and language teachers around the world can use it, and public members can purchase Japanese song music books and picture books from my website.

I will also develop and offer other Japanese programs, such as a fun Japanese online program for children and adults in the future, and I will add many more exciting programs.


After I publish the Japanese songbook, my next project is to develop resources to specify more Japanese language learning for Japanese teachers. I want to introduce fun Orff games and activities and focus on 'speech' which is 'language'.

I would like 'Sing Move Nihongo' to be an engaged and fun Japanese cultural experience for both children and adults and provide an opportunity for all teachers worldwide to use my Japanese songbook and further resource and experience the powerful, engaged and creative Orff Approach.

What workshops do you facilitate?

At this stage, I facilitate Japanese cultural workshops according to seasonal events (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter). In Japan's rich culture, I enjoy integrating all art elements into my Japanese cultural workshops and music - teaching Japanese traditional songs for these four events incorporating Orff Approach.

Japanese culture

How many instruments do you play?

I play the piano, violin, Ukulele (still learning), Djembe, recorder, Orff Instruments (Xylophones and Glockenspiels), and small percussion instruments.

Japanese Culture

What do you miss about Japan?

Japanese beauty and Japanese art – no matter how long I have lived in Australia, Japan is in my heart. I'm from Osaka, but I love Kyoto, where there are so many beautiful temples and shrines, and I still enjoy visiting them every time I return to Japan. I love beautiful Japanese art.


To get in touch with Noriko please visit the website Sing Move Nihongo

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