"Everyone who learns an instrument should sing first. Singing, independent of an instrument, is the real and profound schooling of musical abilities." Zoltán Kodály
Kodály teaches musical skills through using the voice as the first instrument, whilst Dalcroze furthers this development with movement to music.
Kodály's approach to music education is based on teaching, learning and understanding music through the use of song, thereby eliminating the technical problems that can be encountered with the use of an instrument.
One of the tools used according to Kodály guidelines are handsigns which can help children to sing in tune and recognise the intervals between notes in a scale. We don't use these handsigns in the Early Years classes but you might use them in the daytime singing group!
The success of Kodály's ideas can be attributed to the following:
- Music education is started as early as possible.
- The curriculum is developed in an organized, sequential manner from year 1 onwards as well as at nursery and pre- school.
- Learning comes first through playful singing activity and pleasurable experience, later through conscious thought processes.
- The learning process is, on the surface, slow because of constant repetition and review, but a great number of musical concepts are absorbed and techniques mastered which become a permanent foundation for future use.
- Folk songs and composed songs are used (carefully selected according to the age characteristics and musical developmental level).
For young children to learn to sing well, they must sing songs which:
- Will not strain undeveloped vocal chords by too high or low a range. Kodaly established the best range as a major 6th interval from D to B above middle C.
- Do not contain semitones, since these are much more difficult to sing.
- Have a clear and uncomplicated rhythm.
- Are unaccompanied by piano, since the piano is a tempered instrument which can too often result in out of tune singing.
- Have texts of literary value and creative imagery so that they can be adapted to the child's world of play and fantasy games.
For a full insight into Zoltán Kodály's views, read Christopher Lambton's "Voices of Change" article.
In Dalcroze, musical concepts are taught and experienced through movement of all parts of the body. For example, we may step or clap the pulse or rhythm whilst singing, or may move to show phrasing.
Through training the body, and not only the ear, we can improve our ability to be expressive and further our understanding so that we experience the music more deeply. For more information see the Dalcroze Society Website.