The Kodaly Concept

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Transcript of The Kodaly Concept

The Kodly Concepts

Karen Mari E231 Dr. Strand February 17, 20121

Zoltn Kodly was a champion of music education at the turn of the previous century. From his modest musical upbringing in various Hungarian towns, he would go on to become a renowned composer, zealous critic of music education, and passionate preserver of Hungarian and Eastern European folk music. On December 16, 1882, Kodly was born in the Hungarian town of Kecskemt. His father held a job with a train company, which resulted in the family often moving from town to town down the rail lines towards Vienna. However, when Kodly was around 12 years old, the family settled in a somewhat long-term manner in the town of Gyr, an ancient and rather large city, which is known for a strong musical tradition and affinity for the arts that dates back to pre-roman times. Although he never pursued it professionally, Kodlys father was an avid amateur musician. He took advantage of the towns musical population to perform string quartets and organize other small ensembles in his home with a variety of local musicians. This early and constant exposure to quality music shaped Kodlys musical identity just as much as the folk songs he heard as he traveled with his father to towns all around Hungary (Legny 333-338). When he was old enough, Kodlys parents sent him to the University of Budapest, where he majored in Hungarian and German studies, per their wishes that he become a scholar and professor of those subjects. Kodly took to university life exceptionally well, and was considered a model student. In addition to his studies at the University, Kodly was enrolled simultaneously as a composition student at the attached Academy of Music. He was a member of the university orchestra, as well as several chamber ensembles and choirs, which he enjoyed immensely. Kodly relished in the social components of music he valued playing with others more than training for a solo


career as a performer. As a result of this love of musical camaraderie , he composed a few large works for the university orchestra, as well as some more intimate choral works to sing with his friends and colleagues (Legny 339-341). Kodly started out composing sacred works in compliance with what was popular at the time (two Ave Marias are among his early compositions), but quickly turned to secular compositions based on the folk music of his youth. His works from this period are greatly varied (Legny 341-343). In 1905, Kodly started his lifelong work collecting and preserving Hungarian and Eastern European folk songs and traditional music. Along with his good friend, Bla Bartk, Kodly traveled extensively through small towns and villages, recording the folksongs he encountered on phonograph cylinders. Kodly believed strongly in the strength and worldwide appeal of Hungarian musical traditions, and sought to preserve them in their original and unaltered forms. Because of his interest in these types of music, he became one of the prominant scholars regarding the history of Hungarian music from the first century all the way to the 20th (Kodly Tempo 28-32). The music he encountered tremendously shaped his middle and later compositions, and, eventually, his theories and practices regarding music education. Kodlys compositions favored choral pieces and instrumental works based on the folk tunes he had collected, such as the celebrated Variations on a Hungarian Folksong. He traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America to conduct his own pieces (Legny 335-336). Later in his career, Kodly turned his primary focus to improving the state of music education in his native Hungary, and the implications of his concepts have continued to influence music education all over the world. He enjoyed widespread recognition as one of the most important musical pedagogues of his day, and was


appointed to professorships and given honorary degrees from many major musical institutions. (Legny 336-337). The Kodly Method is the result of Kodlys concepts regarding music education. Kodly did not actually develop the method himself rather, his students and followers have devised the method based on his teachings. According to Kodly scholar Biljana Bojovic, the Kodly method can be broken down into six principles, which will be examined in this paper: I Principle music for all II Principle musical literacy for all III Principle singing IV Principle starting musicianship at a very young age V Principle using music of the mother tongue VI Principle using music of high artistic value (Bojovic)

Kodly educators believe strongly that music is something in which all people, regardless of circumstance, deserve an education. Kodly is quoted as saying that Music is not a toy for a very few selected people music is spiritual food for everyone (Howard 27). Because of this philosophy, Kodly educators take steps to be as inclusive as possible for students. They utilize the voice as their main instrument in teaching music, because everyone possesses one naturally, making it the ideal instrument to reach the multitudes. There is no need to have expensive instruments and equipment in order to learn music, because the voice is free and accessible to all people. Followers of the Kodly concepts also focus on singing because they believe that what we produce by ourselves is better learned; and there is a stronger feeling of success and accomplishment associated with singing as opposed to instrumental performance, and that learning through singing should precede instrumental training ("Organization of


American Kodly Educators"). In other words, singing is a vehicle to better internalization and personalize the understanding of musical concepts, which can then be applied to both vocal and instrumental music. Additionally, because there is a stronger feeling of success and accomplishment associated with singing, students are more likely to continue further in their musical education, which in turn causes them to become more literate in music ("Organization of American Kodly Educators"). Musical literacy is another important pillar of the Kodly method. Kodly believed that people should be able to read music in the same way that an educated adult will read a book: in silence, but imagining the sound (More). Kodly imagined a society where a person could pick up a score and read a piece of music in his/her/their head for their own enjoyment. To this end, Kodly educators put a strong emphasis on the use of Solfege for the purpose of becoming proficient at sight singing and audiation. They use movable do solfege, meaning that the tonic note of any key is assigned the do syllable. This method of using solfege causes students to better internalize pitches within a key as related to one another, as opposed to individual notes. The Kodly Solfege Hand Sign System (alternatively the Curwen-Glover system) is a system of hand symbols designed to help students visually and kinesthetically understand how pitches relate to each other. When using the hand sign system, teachers use the following hand shapes to represent pitches in a diatonic scale:


As the pitch ascends, so does the height of the hand in space (Howard 28). By training in this system, students are able to visually, kinesthetically, and aurally differentiate between the pitches in the scale. This translates to them being able to hear the differences and recognize the relationships between pitches more accurately both internally and externally, which leads to better sight singing, audiation, and musical literacy. Kodly education starts at a very young age. Teachers start by building on the musical skills children develop naturally the ability to hear and sing silly songs, playground tunes, etc. From there, they employ a method of Preparation, Presentation, Practice that is, the foundations of skills or concepts are introduced within the confines of concepts already being practiced, then they are presented as a separate skill, and finally the skill is put into performance practice. For example, a class may be working on the concept of pulse, but the teacher could be preparing them to be able to identify strong and weak beats by having them stomp and clap on alternate pulses. Once the students can do this, the teacher will put a name to the concept of strong and week beats formally, and then practice the new skill in a piece of music (Boshkoff 31). This method of sequential instruction helps students succeed by building on information they are already confident with. As the student ages, more and more complex layers can be added in a spiral style curriculum or other type of scaffolding method ("The Kodly Concept"). In keeping with the concepts of building on familiar information, Kodly educators utilize folksongs from students own cultures to teach musical concepts. Kodly believed that students who sang songs in their mother tongue would more


easily learn and be able to integrate the musical concepts they were studying into their everyday lives, because they already performed such songs at home and with their peers and families. Kodly educators also use folk songs because they have the ability to teach all of the basic musical concepts. The songs have the added benefit of being the classical music of the people, and, as such, is a perfect bridge leading to and working hand-in-hand with-art music ("Organization of American Kodly Educators"). This means that folk songs provide a ready highway to learning more advanced music because art music of any country is directly or indirectly the result of the folk music of said culture. Using those high level compositions in education is another cornerstone of Kodly education. After being frustrated in his search for high quality music to use in his pedagogy, Kodly composed several quality pieces himself. Regardless of their origin, Kodly educators st