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Understanding the Kodaly Method

Aug 17, 2007
The Kodaly Method (pronounced ko-day, with a silent "l") is a musical education paradigm used to build singing and ear tuning abilities in young children. Using the Kodaly method for musical training, children are able to develop their musical ability by singing traditional folk songs. There is no musical "grade" with the method, as is awarded in piano or other instruments.

Instead, the aim of the Kodaly method is to assist every child to become musically literate. This is done by utilising several approaches, central to the Kodaly method: use of rhythm, solfege, sight-reading, listening, writing, performing and creating music. Musical literacy is also developed using aural and visual memory experiences.

Building on this basic understanding they soon learn how to perform, listen to and analyse classical music of the world. Further, their skills increase in order to compose music of their own.

The basic philosophy of the Kodaly method teaches that all people who are capable of "lingual literacy" (those who have the ability to speak) are also capable of musical literacy. Musical literacy skills are built from the basic understanding of language development.

There are three sequential learning concepts that are traditionally learnt in language development:

1. Aural - students first learn to listen to sounds and tones in order to form words
2. Written - once words are understood, words and tones can be translated into written form
3. Reading - the student develops the ability to read written material

The same applies for the development of musical literacy, using the Kodaly method.

The Kodaly method teaches singing and listening techniques comprised of rhythm symbols and syllables, along with hand signals to demonstrate the relationship between tones. The hand signals enable students to visualise the tone, to determine whether it is rising or falling.

By way of introduction, songs or melodies that are native to the student are introduced first. Primarily these must be in the mother tongue (from their country of native origin), for greatest effect. Songs from other cultures can be gradually introduced, which concentrate on vocal awareness, to widen the singing voice.

Young children start at the base level where they are taught to sing in tune to match musical patterns. For example, Do-Ray, Do-Ray-Mi, etc. Building on this, children learn to say musical words in a rhythm, and clap a beat.

One key aspect of the Kodaly method is the use of the body in the expression of music. So in addition to bringing their voice in tune and clapping to the beat, the next level is to step to a beat. They will also learn how to clap the rhythm of a text, and clap the rhythm while thinking about the words whilst not voicing them out loud.

For more advanced users of the Kodaly method, classical instruments such as xylophones (with removable bars) and recorders are introduced. But for the beginner, learning music using the Kodaly method is akin to learning a language.
About the Author
For more information about how to implement the Kodaly Method in your classroom, or to purchase Kodaly Music Charts, visit Kodaly Method at Lively Learning

Copyright 2006 Lively Learning
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