What is Kodaly…and why do we teach it?!

The Kodaly Concept

  • Is a philosophy of education and a concept of teaching.
  • Is an experience-based approach to teaching.
  • Is a comprehensive program to train basic musical skills and teach the reading and writing of music.

In other words…

  • Kodaly is a concept based on teaching, learning and understanding music through the experience of singing. This gives students direct access to the world of music without the technical problems involved with the use of an instrument.
  • The Kodaly approach to music education is child centered and taught in a logical, sequential manner. 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.






Who invented this?

  • Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967), prominent Hungarian composer and musician, directed a significant portion of his creative endeavors to the musical education of the Hungarian nation.
  • As he became aware of the great need to improve the quality of singing and music training of teachers and children alike, he began composing for children’s choruses in the 1920’s.
  • By 1929 he was determined to reform the teaching of music and to make it an integral part of the education of every child.
  • Kodály believed that music is meant to develop one’s entire being – personality, intellect and emotions. He said, “music is a spiritual food for everybody. So I studied how to make more people accessible to good music.” (Kodály, 1966)
  • Kodály realized this was part of everyone’s basic heritage and was necessary for human development and should be started at as early an age as possible.
  • “The most important thing is to actualize the instinctive love of the child for singing and playing, to realize the changing of his moods through the songs, his feelings, his experiences – in other words, to bring about the miracle of music”.

Why is singing important?

  • The voice is the most natural instrument and one which every person possesses
  • What we produce by ourselves is better learned; and there is a stronger feeling of success and accomplishment.
  • Kodály-trained instrumental teachers regard these skills as prerequisites 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.
  • It is in the child’s best interest to understand the basics of reading music before beginning the difficult task of learning the technique of an instrument.
  • Singing best develops the inner, musical ear.
  • 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.




What do we sing?

  • Folk songs and games of the American Culture
  • Traditional children’s songs and games
  • Folk songs of other cultures
  • Music of the masters from all ages
  • Pedagogical exercises written by master composers



Why folk music?

  • Folk music is the music of the people. There can be no better material for singing than the songs and games used by children for centuries.
  • Folk Music has all the basic characteristics needed to teach the foundations of music and to develop a love of music – a love that will last a lifetime.
  • Folk music is the classical music of the people, and, as such, is a perfect bridge leading to and working hand-in-hand with-art music.

Development of the Complete Musician

  • Kodály training is a complete and comprehensive approach to music education which meets the National Standards for Arts Education as published by MENC, © 1994.
  • The development of all skill areas begins very early with simple tasks required of all the students. As knowledge grows, skills are developed further in a sequential manner.
  • In addition to music reading and writing which are begun at an early stage, the following skill areas are also developed: part-singing, part-hearing, improvisation, intonation, listening, memory, phrasing and understanding of form.
  • An awareness and knowledge of musical styles develops as skills become more proficient.