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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
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The Kodály Concept of Music Education

2018 Dates: July 8 - 20

Who is Zoltan Kodály?

Zoltan Kodály (1882 - 1967) was a prominent Hungarian composer and musician.  He devoted a significant portion of his creative endeavors to the musical education of the Hungarian nation - an interest which developed over many years.  He became aware of the great need to improve the quality of singing and music training of teachers and children alike.  As a result, he began composing for children’s choruses and required his composition students to do the same. He was determined to reform the teaching of music and make it an integral part of the education of every child.

Kodály believed that music is meant to develop one’s entire being - personality, intellect and emotions. He said, “ is a spiritual food for everybody. So I studied how to make more people accessible to good music.” He realized this was part of everyone’s basic heritage. He felt it was necessary for human development and it should be started at as early an age as possible.  The result of this endeavor was the creation of, and what is known today as, the Kodály Concept or Method.

What is the Kodály Method?

First and foremost, the goals of every music educator should be to instill the love of music in every student, and to enable every learner to become musically literate. The methodology used must be developmentally appropriate to suit the age of the learner and is derived from a thorough understanding of this concept. The use of musical tools and activities strengthens and enhances the learner’s ability to grasp concepts. The methodology should allow flexibility at all times, in the teaching/learning process, and provide creative uses for musical materials and activities vital for success.

Many of these tools have become well-known, and, in some cases, have become synonymous with the Kodály Concept.  However, they are only aids for teaching and should enhance, not detract from the main goals. Some of the common tools and aids used in teaching are: hand signs, rhythm solemnization, flash cards, echoes, body signs, picture symbols, musical ladders, musical shorthand or stick notation, folk dances, classroom instruments, musical games and more.

Training in the Kodály Method involves intense study in methodology, musicianship, music literature, conducting, and performance. The training is divided into Levels, each building on the previous one, to guide teachers through the sequence of teaching musical concepts to children from early childhood through high school. Special emphasis is placed on the use and training of the human voice.

Kodály believed that music should be the core - the very heart of the curriculum because:

Through music we possess a means for a general development of the human soul… a means that cannot be replaced by any other subject… the elements of music are precious instruments in education.  Rhythm develops attention, concentration, determination, and the ability to condition oneself.  Melody opens up the world of the emotions. Dynamic variation and tone color sharpen our hearing. Singing… is such a many-sided physical activity that its effect in physical education is immeasurable. (Kodály, Selected Writings, p. 130)




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