Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Effective hallmarks for teaching the Kodály Concept in the 21st century: part 2

The Kodály Concept of music education is based on the philosophical writings of Zoltán Kodály (1882–1967) 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. On 30 August, we discussed five essential lessons from the Kodály Concept. Below are five additional hallmarks of his work.

  1. Developing audiation skills is at the heart of developing musicianship skills.

We are convinced that teaching students how to read and write music by using typical rhythmic and melodic “building blocks” abstracted from song repertoire is essential for developing audiation skills. Audiation is the ability to internally hear music in your head without an external sound stimulus. The process of learning to read and write music  using  an “ear” to “eye” process (sound to symbol) is fundamental to developing audiation skills.

  1. Singing, movement and active music making are the foundations for teaching Music literacy

Laying the foundations for developing music literacy skills begins with active music making. The “singing voice” coupled with movement is essential to music learning. Quality repertoire is indispensable. Therefore the role of the teacher becomes clear; it is to deconstruct a music repertoire so the children can reconstruct themselves. Begin with the sounds of music, guide children to label these sounds with rhythm and/or solfège syllables, show children how to notate these sounds with music symbols so that they read music fluently on the staff with confidence and greater musicianship. The goal is always to promote and develop musicianship through beautiful singing and music making. But the teacher also develops student’s musicianship by allowing them to incorporate their knowledge of music literacy in developing other skill areas such as listening, improvisation, form, musical memory, reading, writing, and inner hearing.

  1. Singing and analyzing repertoire plays a significant role in the process of teaching Improvisation.

Improvisation, the art of composing extemporaneously, and composition, the art of formulating and writing music, are integral components of a music curriculum. Both improvisation and composition extend and develop students’ creativity and musicianship. Improvisation can take many forms. Improvisation is connected to movement, text, music literacy, as well as improvising using instruments. Improvisation may be experienced using a structured and unstructured approach to teaching.

We nourish children’s ability to improvise by focusing on the forms and rhythmic and melodic building blocks of known repertoire. Children, like great composers, who master the ability to “copy” the forms of known repertoire will become artful improvisers.

  1. Teach children to play instruments using “a sound to symbol” orientation.

Learning how to play music instruments, non-pitched, pitched (Orff instruments and recorders) is an important skill to teach children. We believe that there are three steps to teaching students to play instruments musically.

  • Students need to be able to sing repertoire they are going to play on their instruments. It helps if they can read the rhythm of what they are performing with rhythm syllables and numbers. They should also be able to sing the repertoire with solfège syllables and perhaps letter names. Singing is a more direct means to developing and solving music problems in the music classroom. Singing allows students to internalize the sounds of music before they play them.
  • Students need be taught the technique for playing instruments.
  • Playing a musical instrument takes patience and it can be time-consuming in the general music education classroom. It is important that students apply their knowledge of solfège, inner hearing, and theoretical knowledge to ensure musicality when performing on their instrument.
  1. Creating an Organic Music Curriculum

The construction of a music curriculum takes time and patience. If the teacher is to achieve both short and long terms outcomes for students, then we need to consider the construction of a curriculum in an “organic” manner: teachers need to think about the connections between their philosophy of teaching and the development of a learning goals and how to translate these goals into lesson plans with assessment activities. More and more, school administrations are requiring music teachers to become just as accountable for their classroom learning as general classroom teachers. Many successful teachers are developing organic music curricula that reflect current research from the fields of perception and cognition. Best practices and models indicate that music learning needs to begin with artfully singing age appropriate repertoire that can be used for developing singing, performing on instruments, developing creative movement, teaching music literacy, improvisation skills and developing informed audience members.

Featured image: “classroom” by Lindy Buckley. CC by 2.0 via Flickr.

Recent Comments

  1. Mary Cooke

    Great info on the Kodaly method! Thank you!

Comments are closed.