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Effective hallmarks for teaching the Kodály Concept in the 21st century: part 1

To teach music effectively, we must know our subject—music. We must embody and exemplify musicianship.” (Elliott, Music Matters, 1995, p. 271). But how are we to communicate our musicianship to students in meaningful ways? The Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, and educator, Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967) is an internationally recognized composer. The Kodály Concept of music education is based on his philosophical writings and incorporates principles of teaching music developed by his colleagues and students. His writings on music education provided the impetus of developing a new pedagogy for teaching music.

  1. Music teachers should possess and model excellent musicianship.

Consider employing an apprenticeship model of instruction that mirrors a pedagogical model utilized by exceptional studio instructors. Simply stated, students learn the craft of music from individuals who themselves are excellent musicians. In Kodály’s words: “There is a need for better musicians, and only those will become good musicians who work at it every day. The better a musician is the easier it is for him to draw others into the happy, magic circle of music. Thus will he serve the great cause of helping music to belong to everyone.” (Kodály, “Two Part Exercises,” Selected Writings, 1974, p. 225. ).

  1. Identifying quality music repertoire is foundational for teaching music effectively.

It was Kodály’s belief that communication of inferior music inhibits the growth of maximum musical understanding. Consequently, he maintained that the type of repertoire used and the manner of presentation have a lasting effect on the development of a child’s musical taste.

“Conversely, only art of intrinsic value is suitable for children! Everything else is harmful. After all, food is more carefully chosen for an infant than for an adult. Musical nourishment which is ‘rich in vitamins’ is essential for children.”(Kodály, “Children’s Choirs,” Selected Writings, 1974, p. 122.)

  1. All aspects of musicianship should be developed in a music curriculum.

Musicianship training should be comprehensive and develop all dimensions of what it means to be a musical human being. If we are to develop children’s self-knowledge, self-awareness, and emotions, we need to educate them to be:

  • Stewards of their musical and cultural heritage (knowledge of quality music repertoire)
  • Performers (singing tunefully, playing instruments musically and moving artfully)
  • Critical thinkers (reading and writing music)
  • Creative human beings (improvisation and composition)
  • Informed audience members
  1. Teaching music literacy has to be taught artfully.

The teaching of music literacy needs to be taught artistically. Kodály advocates that we should “teach music and singing at school in such a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil; instill a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime. Music must not be approached from its intellectual, rational side, nor should it be conveyed to the child as a system of algebraic symbols, or as the secret writing of a language with which he has no connection. The way should be paved for direct intuition.”(Kodály, “Children’s Choirs,” Selected Writings, 1974, p. 124.)

  1. A music learning theory should serve as the foundation for teaching music literacy and developing musical skills.

Using a research-based model of learning and instruction provides a organized model for teaching music literacy in an artful manner. It provides teachers with an effective pedagogical compass. It permits children to develop the ability to read and write music as a consequence of music instruction that is perceptually based. Students become active learners not simply learning about the musical concept but additionally learning about the process of their own learning through music performance.

A model of learning and instruction offers teachers a step-by-step roadmap for developing the musical understanding, metacognition, and creativity skills that are relevant for twenty-first-century learning. A feature of this teaching pedagogy is its integration of problem-solving, critical-thinking, and collaborative learning skills into the instruction and learning of music. Building upon the work of Gordon, the Houlahan and Tacka Model of Learning and Instruction promotes simultaneous development of students’ performance, musical understanding, and audiation skills, which promotes deeper learning and creativity.

Featured image: “DSC07843” by Warren B. CC by 2.0 via Flickr.

Recent Comments

  1. Sarah Conor

    Thank you for sharing this information. All very interesting.

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