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Kodály Survey for Families

Kodály Survey for Families
Posted on 02/01/2016

The purpose of this survey is to determine the impact of increased frequency of music instruction for students in Cambridge Public Schools.

Take the Survey >> 

What is Kodály?

By Kelly Graber, Morse Music Teacher

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) was a visionary teacher, composer and philosopher whose work has influenced musicians and music educators around the world. Following his folk song collecting trips with Béla Bartók in Hungary in the early 1900s, Kodály conceived of a monumental idea: that music could be taught artistically using the traditional folk songs of a culture. Gathering talented, creative teachers around him, Kodály developed a philosophy of music education based on the radical idea of universal music literacy.

Music is the core of the curriculum. The ancient Greeks believed that music was the center of all learning, because music involved a natural synthesis of thinking, feeling and moving. Music is essential to human development — intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual.

The body—the singing voice and movement—is the best medium for making music. The voice is the universal instrument, free and accessible to all. Body and voice are the natural expressive means for every individual. Voice and movement are united in the traditional folk games and dances of all cultures.

Experiencing music cannot begin too early. Music is the birthright of every child. The child’s first connection to music comes through the voices of the parents. It is the responsibility of the school to develop this connection beginning at the earliest levels. Traditional folk music provides the best and most natural material for becoming a literate musician. Everyone has a mother tongue—the language spoken at home.

The traditional folk music of that language provides the source from which the basic elements of music literacy can be drawn. Following the study of authentic folk songs of the native culture(s), we can then explore of the music of other cultures and connect traditional music with all styles of composed music.

Music literacy is like language literacy. Everyone has the ability to hear, speak, read and write a language. In the same way, everyone has the ability to hear, sing, read and write music. Music literacy is something that everyone can and should enjoy.

Quality music is the best material for teaching. Kodály believed that only the best music by the greatest composers and the most beautiful and representative folk music of the culture are good enough for children. “Let Bach and Mozart be the teachers.”

Kodály’s approach has been adapted worldwide. Strong emphases on the development of the teacher’s own musicianship is a hallmark of the movement. It is a living philosophy constantly being shaped by research on how children learn music in cultural settings and complements the emerging focus on world music by today’s music educators. From The Kodály Center at Holy Names University:

The Kindergarten through 2nd grade students at the Morse School are immersed in a comprehensive Kodály music program. Students in JK and K receive music instruction in music four times per week and 1st and 2nd grade three times per week for 30-minute periods.

  • Kindergarteners are learning how to access their singing voice through folk songs, singing games, chants, rhymes and other repertoire. Students are developing a sense of steady pulse and rhythm through a variety of movement and listening activities.


  • First Graders are learning to differentiate between beat and rhythm, to read and sing la, sol and mi and sing in parts. By the end of first grade, students will be singing, reading, and writing using traditional music notation. 


  • Second Graders extend their knowledge of pitch and rhythm in terms of music literacy while continuing to build their song repertoire. They study form as it applies to both written music and movement.


If you have any questions regarding the music program and curriculum please feel free to contact me. Kelly Graeber, JK-2 Music Teacher, 
617.349.6575 x 171.