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Holy Family College Blog

5 Questions and Answers about the KODÁLY Approach to Music Education

Posted By Rachel Ware Carlton On March 07, 2015


Each summer, students from around the world attend the Summer Music Session at Holy Family College to pursue their Kodály Certificate. However, some educators and musicians may have never heard of the Kodály approach.

My name is Rachel Ware Carlton, and I’m the Director of Graduate Music at Holy Family College. Here I’ve answered five questions people new to Kodály commonly have about the method.

What makes the Kodály approach different from other forms of music education?

The most important thing to take away from the Kodály philosophy of music education is this: Music is for everyone!

In fact, I recently spoke with Sr. Lorna Zemke about the Kodály philosophy. Sr. Lorna is an Emeritus Faculty member at Holy Family College, and was one of the first to introduce the Kodály approach to music education to the United States. Sr. Lorna shared with me that she heard the words “Music is for everyone!” on Zoltan Kodály’s lips many times. This simple truth is the core of the Kodály philosophy of music education.

As a result of this truth, it follows that it is important that all students can understand music as an intelligently understandable language. The Kodály philosophy employs a sequential approach to music literacy beginning in early childhood so that students can become musically literate according to their developmental level.

Which students are best suited to learn by this method?

All students have a right to musical literacy and understanding of music according to their own developmental level. This means that music education and musical literacy is not something that should be reserved for the naturally musically inclined, but rather is a right of all human beings.

What musical strengths does it develop in students, as compared to other, more conventional approaches?

One of the most exciting parts of the Kodály philosophy of music education is that it addresses the fact that music develops the whole person including intellect, emotions, and even the personality of an individual. Kodály himself said “…music is not a toy for a very few selected people…music is a spiritual food for everybody.” Music does play such a large role in human development; therefore it is important that students are given the tools to understand music.

The Kodály approach focuses on musical literacy and views the voice as the most natural instrument by which to come to the study of music, as everyone has a voice! Folk music — the music of the people — is regarded as one of the best tools by which to develop musicianship among students (including sight singing, ear training, musical form, harmonization, dictation, etc.) as it is representative of student’s culture.

The Kodály approach is sequential. New musical concepts and materials can be taught in a meaningful way if the music curriculum is well sequenced and builds upon prior successes.

How does a Kodály certificate help music education teachers?

First of all, it is important to acknowledge that teachers need to be well trained and that they continuously develop their personal musical and vocal skills to the best of their abilities. The typical Kodály Certificate seeker is already a very fine music teacher, and taking part in the Certificate program will build upon and sharpen their skills.

The Certificate can also provide validity to the teaching that they are already doing in the classroom while also providing inspiration for different ways in which they can deliver their instruction to their students. The goal for our students is that they have a love for music, and therefore the study of music must be attractive, fun, and appealing. Those who pursue a Kodály Certificate at Holy Family College will certainly leave each summer music session brimming with new ideas to implement in their classrooms.

How does the Kodály certificate program work at Holy Family College?

The OAKE endorsed Kodály Certificate program at Holy Family College is a 20.5 credit program that can be completed in three summers during our two-week on-campus sessions.

Kodály Certificate students will complete the following courses:


MUS 542 Kodály Methods I – First Steps in Music [2] 

MUS 543 Kodály Methods II – Conversational Solfege: Beginning Levels [2]

MUS 544 Kodály Methods III – Conversational Solfege: Upper Levels [2]

MUS 521 Solfege I [2]

MUS 522 Solfege II [2]

MUS 531 Solfege III [2]

MUS 501 Folk Song History and Research I [2]

MUS 502 Folk Song History and Research II [2]

MUS 644 Choral Literature and Advanced Conducting [2]

MUS 560 Choral Ensemble [.5]*

MUS 580 Special Topics [1]

* Choir must be taken for three summers, total 1.5 credits

TOTAL: 20.5   

Kodály Certificate students at Holy Family College will work directly with the members of the summer music faculty, which is made up of leading figures in the field of Music Education. These faculty members include Dr. John Feierabend (the Chair of the Kodály Summer Music Program), Dr. Frank Gallo, Dr. Brent Gault, and Sr. Lorna Zemke.

Are you interested in learning more about the Kodály Summer Music Program? Request more information below!

Request More Information


Topics: Music Education

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