Providing professional development to music educators while promoting best teaching practices since 1998.
Inspired by the vision of Zoltán Kodály, the mission of the Kodály Music Institute as an affiliate of the Organization of American Kodály Educators, is to support music education of the highest quality, promote universal music literacy and lifelong music making, and preserve the musical heritage of the people of the United States of America through education, artistic performance, advocacy and research.
What is the Kodály Concept?
The Kodály Concept
The Kodály Music Institute offers a music teacher education program based upon the concepts, philosophy and practices developed by the Hungarian composer, linguist, philosopher and educator, Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). The Kodály (pronounced KÓH-dye) concept has been adapted in over 40 nations.
Concepts of Music Education
Kodály’s concepts are based on teaching, learning and understanding music through the experience of singing, giving direct access to the world of music without the technical problems involved with the use of an instrument.
The Kodály approach to music education is child centered and taught in a logical, sequential manner. It is no “method” but more a series of guidelines. Zoltán Kodály believed like most musicians that music is a language. Some speak it badly and some speak it well. This approach is aimed at speaking it well.
This approach begins by teaching children to sing in tune, combined with extensive physical movement to develop timing and rhythmic competence. Music is taught in a way that requires each child to learn via a variety of modes—kinesthetic, auditory, and visual.
The musical material, which has proved to be the most potent and effective is a country’s own folksong material and the finest art music.
Music is heard first of all and then learned using the tools of relative solfa, rhythm names and hand signs. Relative solfa is derived from John Curwen’s Tonic Solfa and rhythm solfa is inspired by and simplified from the French rhythm solfa system of Gallin-Paris-Chevé.
Why is singing so important?
The singing voice is nature’s built-in musical instrument. We all have one, and Kodály educators believe it is the birthright of every child to learn how to express him/herself musically through the singing voice. Musical development can in this way begin from babyhood, with no one excluded on grounds of cost. Singing is a joyful and sociable activity feeding the spirit as well as the mind.
Singing gives direct access to music without the technical difficulties of an instrument. Singing and active participation is therefore the fastest way to learn and internalize music and to develop musicianship skills. It is also the proof of accurate internalization of the rhythm and melody.
Through unaccompanied singing and active participation a student can begin to acquire skills essential to all musicians: musical memory, inner hearing, true intonation and harmonic hearing.
Kodály-trained instrumental teachers regard these skills as pre-requisites for instrumental study at every level. Teachers who spend time preparing musical material through singing and other musical activity find that pupils play successfully and musically when they reach the final stage of performing the music on their instrument.
Engaging in singing and Kodály oriented musical activities leads to a marked increase in the powers of concentration, a rise in levels of achievement and an increase in social harmony in and out of the classroom.
How does the teaching progress?
The approach is very effective with young children who will learn, unconsciously at first, all the musical elements, which musicians need, through playing and singing of musical games and songs of their mother tongue. As with language learning, it can happen very spontaneously and naturally when parents and care-givers sing to young children as a part of everyday life, and especially if this singing approach is continued through Primary School.
At an appropriate stage these musical elements and skills are further developed by being made conscious and then, later, reinforced. In the process of reinforcing, new elements are introduced – again unconsciously by the teacher, thus continuing and developing the cycle further. Central to this work is the development of the Inner Hearing (the ability to imagine sound) though a potent combination of singing, rhythm work, Solfa and hand-sign work, stick-notation, memory development, part work, and improvisation.
But I am an adult!
Kodály’s approach to learning can be used to develop musical skills at any age. Anyone, whatever their age or ability may aspire to the highest levels of musicianship. The training starts with the simple and progresses to the more complex by logical steps and is one of the finest approaches to music education yet devised and therefore suited to all ages and stages of musical development. There are always adult beginners at the Kodály Music Institute and many come back year after year to extend their musical skills. As well as helping beginners to develop musicianship skills, the training also extends to those working at an advanced level.
But I am an instrumentalist!
When music is taught or learned using Kodály’s approach skills vital to advanced music making such as “inner hearing”, rhythmic co-ordination and harmonic hearing are strongly developed at an early stage. The approach is therefore relevant for instrumental teachers as well as class teachers and amateur and professional singers and musicians.
Through Kodály training teachers come to realize that all pupils need a core of musicianship training which is relevant to all instruments. Instrumental teachers therefore need to develop skills and material for musicianship work with their pupils, and to acquire repertoire and insights for applying this to their own instrument.
But I am a choral conductor!
Kodály certificate training includes conducting…a lot of it. All pupils need a core of musicianship training, which is relevant to singing. It is helpful for the choral conductor to combine Kodály musicianship with learning new choral music both as a way of expanding one’s knowledge base and as a way of developing sight-singing skills. All certificate levels include conducting training, conducting labs, performing with adults under a master conductor, and observing youth in choir rehearsals and solfège classes.
But I am not a singer!
You do not have to be a trained singer to enjoy or benefit from this form of music making. If you can draw breath, you can sing in such a way that the musical world will become accessible to you. The teaching and learning of music through the use of the singing voice enables the most direct of musical responses and provides the opportunity for musical understanding at the deepest level.
All students are taught to work with rhythm, structure and style in music – and to understand pitch by using a relative pitch system, which uses pitch syllables (do, re, mi, fa etc) to develop keen aural discrimination. This is central to Kodály training and provides a stimulating and challenging means of improving personal musicianship and musical awareness.
Kodály teachers are trained how to carefully analyze each song that is used in teaching. From this song analysis, common melodic and rhythmic patterns emerge, dictating the most appropriate teaching sequence for musical reading and writing.
Children gradually learn how to hear and then sight sing standard musical notation through the use of these repetitive patterns, thus developing true musical literacy. Once children have acquired music-literacy skills, they are then able to easily apply this to instrumental study, making such lessons considerably easier and more successful.
Research evidence suggests that Kodály training develops children’s intellectual abilities beyond music to those needed for the learning of all subjects, as well as developing socialization skills.