The Kodály Philosophy

Kodály Philosophy (from Organization of American Kodály Educators)

Kodály Music Education

The Kodály concept is a philosophy of music education inspired by Hungarian composer and educator, Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). Kodály believed that everyone is born with musical aptitude which should be developed as early as possible, first at home, then within the regular school curriculum. The aim is to instill a love of music in each child.


Singing as a Basis

Singing is the foundation of children’s musical development. Singing in tune is a learned behavior that almost all children can accomplish. Just as children develop language by hearing and imitating speech patterns, they learn to match pitch and sing in tune by hearing and imitating musical patterns. Next, singing in harmony further develops the ear, fosters artistry within groups of music makers, and creates a sense of community.


Use of Folk Music

Kodály educators strive to familiarize students with American’s unique musical culture, first with their own musical heritage, then by introducing, comparing, and contrasting such music with music of other ethnic backgrounds. Study of musical components in folk song provides the foundation for understanding art music of all styles.


Kodály Methodology

The Kodály approach is a dynamic, exciting way of teaching and learning based on the developmental readiness of the child. The process involves a sequential layering of skills and concepts designed to build success for every child. Understanding rhythm develops through use of movement activities and rhythmic syllables; melodic and harmonic understanding develops through the use of Solfege syllables (do, re mi…) in the moveable “do” system, interval training, and hand signs. The process begins with singing games and leads to instrument playing, improvising, composing and arranging, reading and notating, analyzing, and evaluating.


Comprehensive music literacy is the ultimate goal.


Quotes from Zoltán Kodaly (1882-1967)


“Teach music and singing at school in a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil; instill a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime.….. Often a single experience will open the young soul to music for a whole lifetime. This experience cannot be left to chance; it is the duty of the school to provide it.”


“….music appreciation cannot be simply inhaled with the air, it comes with studying the elements of music.”


“Singing is the core of music-making even when playing an instrument. This has been stressed by a number of great musicians.”


“Singing, untrammeled by an instrument, is the real and profound schooling of musical abilities.


“….a good folk song is a perfect masterpiece in itself.”


“Music is an indispensable part of universal human knowledge. He who lacks it has a faulty knowledge. A man without music is incomplete. So it is obvious that music should be a school subject. It is essential.”