I am now three weeks into using the Jolly Music Beginners’ book with Nursery, Reception, Years 1, 2 and 3, and they love it. Each year group does – it still surprises me how long it takes even Year 3 to take things on board. The singing stool, teddy and soft kitten have all become part of school life. So the books are just fab. I knew they would be and I am so pleased that at last I have found a structure for my teaching that I am really comfortable with. And I am also heartened by the fact that I have been doing lots of things that are recommended in the book, just in a more unstructured way. I am eternally grateful.
“I am so pleased that at last I have found a structure for my teaching”
A change of perspective
The Summer School was such a profound experience for me. It’s really changed my perspective. I am no longer looking at myself from the outside in feeling inadequate, but looking from the inside out – proud to share what musicianship I have but always ready and eager to learn more. And it’s positively affected other parts of my life too. Suddenly I’m considering doing things that I didn’t think were possible. So all in all, it’s probably the best £600 I’ve spent in a long time! I have to admit, I’ve been a bit rubbish at continuing with my 333 drills though – I’ll have to come to the Spring Course to keep up the good work… or start looking at working towards some Kodály exams!
“Probably the best £600 I’ve spent in a long time!”
The Summer School has also helped me to shed some light on my own musicianship issues. For example, I had always considered my sight-singing to be secure. I sing in some fairly ambitious choirs and have done so for many years. I had always felt comfortable with my ability to sight-read a wide range of new choral material and on the advice of my singing teacher thought I would look into doing ABRSM Grade VIII singing for my own personal satisfaction.
I tackled some of the set pieces with no difficulties, but fell at the first hurdle when my teacher asked me to run through some of the sight-reading pieces. I just couldn’t do it. I was so disappointed and perplexed that I withdrew from my lessons, wondering why on earth the sight-singing was so unfathomable, when my sight-singing was fine at choir. That was over a year ago and, since that first lesson, I have not given any more thought to working towards the exam.
“I had never actually learned how to sight-read music properly”
Educated guessing versus accurate knowledge
But that was before Kodály Summer School! My week there helped me to understand why I struggled so much with the ABRSM sight-singing. It became evident to me that my ability to sight-sing at choir rehearsals was generally based on my intuition, a good ear and extensive choral experience; but that added up to educated guessing rather than accurate knowledge. Not in itself a bad thing, but not enough. When I stepped back and thought about it, I had never actually learned how to sight-read music properly.
So, since the Summer School I have persevered. Progress is slow, but there is progress. I am having to slow my brain down and take a few steps backwards, but I am now starting to analyse what I am reading and I am making some conscious decisions rather than taking educated guesses. It is all a bit painful, as I am making myself do it the hard way but it is beginning to pay off – I am at least getting some of it right. And that makes me smile.
Thank you Kodály!
After a career in government communication that spanned over 20 years, Michèle Bennett took the opportunity to give up her Head of Marketing role and turn her hand to her true passion – inspiring children to develop a lifelong love of music.