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Holy Family College Blog

HFC’s Kodály Music Legend: Sister Lorna Zemke

Posted By Rachel Ware Carlton On January 05, 2017


Renowned Kodály music educator

Sister Lorna Zemke, music professor emeritus at Holy Family College, is internationally regarded as a top scholar/practitioner and Kodály music educator.  Sister Lorna was recently honored at Holy Family College with an award called, the Sister Lorna Zemke Endowed Faculty Fund for Music Education and a dedication of the Zemke-Daniel Rehearsal Hall in the Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance. “Sister Lorna serves as a great example for students, faculty and staff of excellent teaching and compassion, no matter what our life’s work is,” said Dr. Chris E. Domes, president of Holy Family College. “She continues to bring the idea of being a servant leader into a world that desperately needs them.”

Highlighting a stellar music education career, Sister Lorna is renowned for her work with the Kodály Graduate Summer Music Program. Under her 40-year directorship of the Kodály Program, master teachers from home and abroad have been inspired by Sister Lorna’s music education expertise. Additionally, Sister Lorna was a key founder of the organization of American Kodály Educators, Midwest Kodály Music Educators of America, and the Association of Wisconsin Area Kodály Educators.

Musical literacy for children

As noted in the faculty bios from Holy Family College, Sister Lorna Zemke, D.M.A., has taught graduate and undergraduate courses, and presented workshops, clinics, demonstrations and lectures throughout the U.S. and abroad for many years. Sister Lorna initiated a “Music for Tots” program at Holy Family College, classes for children from birth through age 5. The Music for Tots program enrolls approximately 200 children each semester. In 1986, Sister Lorna developed the well-known program, “Lovenotes: Music for the Unborn,” that teaches expectant parents how they can use music as a bonding language with their unborn babies. The “Lovenotes” program was published in English and in Korean. Sister Lorna has received outstanding honors for her service and leadership in the field of music education, and she has published many articles and books on a variety of topics in music education.

Servant, leader and music education mentor

The teachings of Hungarian composer, linguist and philosopher Zoltan Kodály, resonated with Sister Lorna as she sought a hands-on music education model that would inspire young learners. Taking children to the local symphony orchestra to experience sound, rhythm and tone was a favorite field trip for Sister Lorna. The Kodály method focuses on using experiences with movement, sight and sound to teach musical concepts. It’s most famously known for the use of “Do-Re-Mi,” featured in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Sound of Music” (2015). Sister Lorna spared no expense in serving, training and educating future masters of music during her 42-year music education career. Many former students look to the Manitowoc teacher as their dearly loved source of music inspiration.

The Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program Legacy Continues

Today, future master educators can pursue a graduate degree at the famed Holy Family College Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program. Sister Lorna’s influence, passion and legacy continues under the guidance of highly qualified Kodály faculty. In addition, other top-qualified guest professors offer lectures and Kodály music instruction as part of the program’s course offerings. Graduate students are taught the latest research, theory and methods in music education as they fine-tune their professional skills and personal musicianship.

Holy Family College Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program

If the life and legacy of Sister Lorna inspired you to inquire more about the Holy Family College Kodály Summer Graduate Music Program, where she will be teaching this summer. Please click here for more information.

Are you interested in learning more about the Kodály approach to music education? Explore our free guide to learn more about  what this unique approach to music education has to offer.


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Topics: Music Education

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