The Kodály Method of teaching music was developed in the 1920s by Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967), a Hungarian composer and music pedagogue. Kodály developed a set of principles that he believed should be implemented in music education to foster better musicianship as well as a love for music in society.
Musical Development in Children
According to this methodology, musical techniques should be introduced to children based on their inherent abilities. New or more difficult skills and ideas are only to be taught to children after they have shown progress and familiarity with the prerequisite skills. Musical experiences are first introduced through listening, singing, and movement.
Rhythm Verbalization and Notation
Kodály developed and standardized a practice of using nonsense syllables to verbalize rhythmic ideas. In his method, quarter notes are recited with “Ta”, eighth notes “Ti”, and four sixteenth notes “Ti-ri-ti-ri”. For example, a measure of music notated ♩♩♪♪♩ is recited as “Ta ta ti-ti ta”. Additionally, time signatures and notation should only be presented to students after they have shown fluency with the syllables.
Rhythm and Movement
Influenced by Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics, Kodály stressed a physical approach to learning rhythm in addition to vocalization. Movement is an important tool when internalizing rhythmic patterns and values. Walking, marching, clapping, and tapping while listening and singing to music, are great ways to feel the beat and match tempo.
Solfège and Hand Signs
As with rhythm, Kodály saw the importance of internalizing melodic intervals both by singing syllabically and using the body to show the relationship between notes before learning the notation. He further developed the practice of using the Solfège syllables and their corresponding hand signs,when learning to sing and recognize pitch.
The Kodály Choral Method
Kodály believed the songs children had known since birth were the best sources for teaching music. This approach allowed for the Kodály Method to be used in every culture with a foundation of folk song. To help bridge the gap between folk song and classical music, Kodály composed over 1000 of his own songs and sight-singing exercises.
For decades, studies have shown that using the Kodály Method improves rhythm skills, intonation, musical literacy, and the ability to sing complex parts for thousands of children worldwide. More information about the Kodály Method and the present day Kodály Institution can be found on their website.