Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kodály: Who was he and what's it about?

As some of you know, the past 3 weeks I've been in the traffic-jammed city of Houston learning all about the music teaching concept known as Kodály. 

It's pronounced KOH-die, not koh-DALLEE. <- please don't pronounce it like that. Look, I've even scratched it out for you so you don't even have to look at it!

Say it with me now, Kodály! Kodály! Kodály! Ok, I think we got it. Now to move on.

First off, WHO is Kodály? 

There he is! ------->

Zoltán Kodály lived from 1882-1967 and is known as a prominent Hungarian composer, musician, ethnomusicologist, philosopher, and teacher. Kodály directed his creative endeavors to the musical education of the Hungarian nation- an interest that developed over many years. Kodály  began collecting folk songs of Hungary in 1905 and became aware of the great need to improve the quality of singing and music training of teachers and children.

He began composing for children's choruses in the 1920s and was greatly inspired by folk music, which became the musical basic for many of his compositions. By 1929, he was determined to reform the teaching of music and to make it an integral part of the education of every child.

"Teach music and singing at school in such a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil; instill as thirst for finer music, a thirst that will last a lifetime... If the child is not filled at least once by the life-giving stream of music during the most susceptible period- between the sixth and sixteenth years- it will hardly be of any use to them much later on. Often a single experience will open the young soul to music for a whole lifetime. This experience cannot be left to chance, it is the duty of the school to provide it."

Kodály believed that music is meant to develop one's entire being- personality, intellect, and emotions. 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. 

Ok, got it. Now was the heck is the Kodály concept??

In a nutshell...

  • a philosophy of education and concept of teaching
  • a comprehensive program to develop basic musical skills and foster musicianship through reading, writing, and performing music
  • an integration of many of the best ideas, techniques, and approaches to music education
  • an experience-based approach to teaching
What can you expect to see in a Kodály-based classroom?

  • Singing!! Lots and lots of singing!!! (a cappella) And not just singing some song from the radio, but singing folk songs and games of American culture, traditional folk songs, folk songs of other cultures, high quality music, pedagogical exercises written by master composers.
  • Musicianship (sight-reading music, ear training, dictation, part hearing, hearing and singing harmony, development memory, perceiving form)
  • Quality art music used in listening and movement activities
  • a sequential learning, experienced-based process
(information taken from OAKE pamphlet)

So that's who Kodály is and what the teaching philosophy is about. So what have I been doing for 3 weeks??

Well... basically all those things listed above. I have been challenged musically, doing music theory exercises I haven't done since college. Peer-teaching the other students. Learning how to be a better conductor. Becoming a better musician myself with singing challenging songs. Expanding my repertoire I use in the classroom.

The Kodály program is set up into 3 levels, beginning with Level I and ending with Level III. This is a 3 year process, so hopefully I will be taking this for the next 2 summers and get even better and eventually be Kodály Certified! (I don't get paid any extra, but the training pays off exponentially in the classroom!)

Our classes consisted of Musicianship, Conducting, Ensemble, Special Topics, Pedagogy, and Music Literature. I've learned so many new songs, names of folk singers, singing games, singing using different modes like aolian and phyrgian... yeah don't ask. haha

I hope for all my non-musician friends this gave you a little idea of what I've been doing, and I look forward to implementing these ideas in my classroom! Thankfully I had a wonderful student teaching experience in the elementary level with a Kodály certified teacher, and was already exposed to a lot of the ideas and concepts. Thanks Jennifer!!! 

After tomorrow's last day, Mike and I will be heading to Austin to celebrate our anniversary and the end of my training! Finally a little break! What do you have going on this summer??

Only the best is good enough! -Kodály