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What is the Kodaly Method of Music?


Who or what is Kodaly anyway?  Zoltan Kodaly was a Hungarian composer and music educator who lived from his birth in 1882 until he died in 1967.  He wrote many songs and pieces of music and during the 1930s became very interested in music education in the schools.  He was concerned with the way children were learning to sing and was inspired to address some of the issues in music education.  Kodaly wrote many articles on the way children learn and the best way to teach singing.  His work eventually resulted in what we now call the Kodaly Method.  Right after World War II, many pedagogues followed Kodaly’s principles and popularized them throughout Hungary and other countries as well.  We now use the Kodaly Method throughout the world.

The Kodaly Method is based on these principles:

  • Singing & Folk Music

The voice is considered the most natural instrument and one that everyone carries.  Learning to sing in tune develops good listening and ear training skills and paves the way for playing an instrument.  The Kodaly Method teaches music by singing simple folk songs from countries around the world.  Naughty Kitty Cat, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Apple Tree are all examples of folk songs we use in our curriculum to teach singing and reading.

  • Solfege

The major scale is made up of eight tones: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do.  The Kodaly Method teaches that by using these eight tones to notate and sing music, children develop their inner ear and learn to sing in harmony.  Hand signs are used for each tone to connect music with the body.  The Moveable ‘Do’ System helps students to learn to sing the scale in different key signatures on the staff.

  • Rhythm Reading

Children learn to read, write, and perform music through the Kodaly method.  There are symbols of rhythm and melody Kodaly used to help students understand musical compositions.  We use the Kodaly symbols of rhythm in our music classes to teach our youngest learners how to read and write musical patterns.

  • Sequencing

Kodaly believed that learning should be a joyful and meaningful experience.  He emphasized a sequential learning process.  First the children are introduced to a simple song, usually accompanied with a game.  Once the children become familiar with the song, they learn to read and write the patterns of rhythm and melody in the song.  After they have mastered this, they are able to perform the song with accuracy.

 

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.”  -Zoltan Kodaly

To teach a child an instrument without first giving him preparatory training and without developing singing, reading and dictating to the highest level along with the playing is to build upon sand.”  -Zoltan Kodaly

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