What is the Kodály concept of music education?
An approach, developed by Hungarian composer and educator Zoltán Kodály, which involves the children learning through singing and playing musical games.
By singing simple songs, children gradually learn the elements of music, including pulse, rhythm, pitch, dynamics and tempo. Games reinforce the learning and make the lessons fun. Key skills being built include listening and singing in tune.
In this way, we build children’s motivation, enthusiasm and confidence, and lay the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment.
How does this fit with music in the National Curriculum?
The Kodály philosophy fulfils the current National Curriculum and so much more. By learning through developmentally appropriate folk songs and games an inner felt/heard sense of pulse, pitch and rhythm builds on both an unconscious and conscious level. This is the key to musical literacy, exploration, improvisation, composition, listening, appraising and performance which are present in all Kodály lessons. The Kodály philosophy develops aural, kinaesthetic and visual learning in all pupils, proving a valuable holistic concept for all abilities.
How does it support the National Curriculum goal of children learning an instrument?
Kodály believed that musicians should be able to hear what they are playing, and the approach develops secure listening skills and excellent music reading skills.
Musicianship training can begin in the early years, before the children have the fine motor skills need to master an instrument. Once they begin an instrument they already have the foundations of musical understanding, and the musicianship training should continue alongside instrumental learning.
Is it expensive?
Quite simply, no. The approach uses the instruments we all have; the voice and the body. With properly trained teachers, this way of teaching music could be delivered in all schools as part of a normal music curriculum.
Not only does this give top quality music education, it also gives holistic benefits across the curriculum, and invaluable life skills.
How can this way of teaching music help with maths and literacy?
Singing helps with literacy by building confidence in speech, language development, patterns in sound. When playing musical games, you are spotting patterns, counting, dividing into groups; some of the key building blocks of a mathematical education.
There is plenty of research to suggest that a quality music education benefits young children’s brain development. Music builds the skills of active listening, intense focus and memory skills, as well as confidence and self-esteem.
In addition, if children enjoy school, they will learn better. Any improvement in attendance will improve results, making the job of the other teachers easier.
There is a view that music and art are frills in education, and that school should be focused on producing the skills needed by the new workforce. How is being good at music going to get my child a job?
Research has shown that the benefits of a music education include confidence, empathy, teamwork, deeper understanding of human nature, coordination and discipline. Creativity is one of the key skills required in today’s workforce.
Playing musical games can help develop many social skills, including turn-taking, working in groups, leadership skills, working to achieve a common goal, listening, respecting others and socialising with those outside the normal friendship group.
All the great educators believe that all learning should be fun, enjoyable hard work, taught through games, concept before symbol, followed by practice and application. Rather than just drilling and cramming facts, the learning is positive and reinforced. We are giving the gift of self-fulfilment, inclusion and well-being.
Remember too, that the music industry is the third biggest employer in Europe. As well as performing, composing and conducting, there are careers in promoting, events management, publishing and producing, as well as music therapy and teaching.
Sounds great. Is it only for children?
No. anyone can learn music in this way. Even people who were told at an early age that they are not musical or they can’t sing, or have given up playing instruments because of the difficulties of reading music or listening, have found that this approach opens new doors for them.
How can I find out more?
The British Kodály Academy (BKA) exists to promote the Kodály approach to music education in the UK. Our website has lots of information about the approach, and also information about courses, both local and national. There is also a link to our bookshop, and our tutor page where you can find a teacher in your area.
What courses does the BKA run?
The BKA delivers courses where everyone can develop their own singing, musicianship and conducting skills, and courses for teachers to develop skills and confidence to deliver music lessons at all levels – from Early Years to Higher Education.
The main BKA residential courses are the Spring Course, usually held in the Easter Holidays, and the Summer School, held in August. These are run in a different part of the country each year, usually university campuses. People come back year after year to enhance their musicianship skills, play and sing together, and benefit from the myriad of other musical activities on offer.
In addition, there are local tutors nationwide who run workshops, musicianship classes for all abilities, and occasional taster sessions.
Are BKA courses only for teachers?
No. These courses are available to everyone. One of the ‘magic’ things about it is that whatever age or stage you are at there is something for you.
Singers who want to improve their technique, or their tuning or harmony or music reading skills; conductors, professional and amateur musicians of all abilities.
There are also specialist courses for teachers, from primary teachers, music specialists, secondary music teachers and instrumental teachers. CPD-accredited Certificate of Professional Practice in the Kodály Concept of Music Education and Kodály Certificate Foundation Level.
You don’t even need to have a musical background to begin training with us. All you need is a love of music.
How do I encourage my school (my children’s school) to adopt this approach?
Get in touch with us. We are actively running campaigns to introduce this into more schools and music hubs. Depending on where you are, it may be possible for someone to come to your school and do a presentation or run a workshop. Email us or contact us through our Facebook page or Facebook group
How would I find a teacher in my local area?