Culture through Music – Kodaly, Dalcroze and Orff – three music education methods that help you understand music differently
We don’t need a stage to make music on, we don’t need an audience to perform to nor do we need to demonstrate others that we’re future stars in the field of sound arts, for music lives through itself, has its own life and thrives as long as it plays along with joy and emotion, just like in a relationship between humans or humans and inarticulate creatures. Starting in the second decade of the last century, Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodály pleaded one after another in support of such joy and emotion, proposing three music education methods that put significant emphasis on spontaneity, creativity and liberation in relation to sounds. Many a time, their developmental principles and strategies coincide in a harmony that otherwise reveals their holistic nature and that turns out to be more important than the features that differentiate them. From Dalcroze, for whom physical movement is intimately related to music whilst the body’s natural response augments the sound, to Orff, who focuses on the importance of instrumental improvisation and on speech, on the words, with their rhythmic profiles that form the foundation of sound art, all the way to Kodály, promoter of singing whereby the concepts of sound are much more readily understood and internalised, all the three methods argue in favour of recovering one’s inner child who’s always ready to play along and rejoice with the sounds.
“Singing capability is native and present in various degrees in each individual case, so that it can be very efficient in music education. Kodaly realised that through singing we can achieve a more profound understanding of music and we can learn to read and write music. Furthermore, he encouraged the use of traditional music, of folklore, the more so since he was a fervent ambassador of this type of repertoire. These are the basic principles of his method, and I strongly believe that we are responsible for the manner in which we apply these ideas in school. It is important that we, the teachers practicing the Kodaly method, act in this spirit.”, says László Norbert Nemes, Director of the Kodály Institute of the “Franz Liszt” Music Academy of Budapest, Hungary.
In the context where the traditional music teaching methods increasingly prove that they are not the only viable solution for general music education, the Project “Culture through music” comes up with up with a refreshing perspective, providing hands-on experience of these three already internationally proven methods about which Romanian pedagogues only have abstract information from specialised dictionaries and literature.
Developed in partnership with prestigious organisations from Iceland, Hungary and Romania, CULTURE THROUGH MUSIC is a complex endeavour aimed at reminding all teachers of sound arts that our relationship with music requires affective involvement and a profuse sense of playfulness, as Carl Orff himself noted: “From the very beginning, the children don’t cherish the very idea of learning. They’d rather play, and if you care about what they want, you’ll allow them to learn while playing”, hence a change of perspective that takes us back in time to the privileged yet forgotten happiness of childhood, when any song was accompanied by an inner vibe, by movement, dance and speech.
This change in paradigm becomes ever more delicate since it tackles an educational system that, for decades on end, has been stubbornly focused on Olympic performance and aggressive competitiveness in all areas, and in particular in arts and sports. “Competitions are for horses, not artists”, ironically commented Bela Bartok, the great Hungarian composer – an observation that made it through time and that, as early as the first half of the last century, was sending out a warning as to the danger that the tough spirit of musical rallies might end up being more important than the shear pleasure of making music. The ultimate goal is precisely this: we should never forget to enjoy that we, in turn, can create music anytime, anywhere and by any means, whether we are professionals on stage, in front of audiences, or in our own living room alongside with family and friends. This very enjoyment of making music is promoted by all the three methods included in the “Culture through music” Project that is being implemented between October 2015 and June 2016. The Project includes a number of conferences and practical workshops addressed to students from the National Music University of Bucharest, music teachers, musicians, educators and the general public wishing to discover these types of sound pedagogy. “By introducing these methods in Romania, we wish to encourage the re-evaluation of the role of music in the education process. Though included in pre-primary and primary curricula, music is currently underrated compared to other so-called main subjects. Thus, the reality is ignored that music can be an excellent medium for developing the skills required for all these subjects in particular, but also for life, in general.”, says Oana Cosmovici, the Project initiator.
Kodaly Workshops, Bucharest, November 2015
In view of achieving this aspiration, the organisers are working together with reputable, long-established and experienced practitioners. Accordingly, in the workshops and conferences addressed to experts, but also accessible to the public at large, each country will get the opportunity to present its teaching methods and research on early and school music education. Interactive presentations facilitate a direct experience of the three music education methods, putting forward a convincing and effective alternative to existing pedagogical approaches. The importance of sound art in the development of pre-primary, primary and secondary students has already been confirmed by numerous specific studies and the benefits of music no longer need advocates. Early music education helps children to become more empathetic and develop social awareness. Trained in musical activities, they enhance their abstract thinking, body control and hearing perception – skills that will lead to increased self-esteem in the future. Musicality is an inborn ability of all children, one that may be cultivated and improved. When suitably guided, they acquire useful, life-long skills.”, says Helga Rut Gudmundsdottir PhD, Director of the Iceland Center for Music Research, Iceland University.
The painstaking and constraining path to the “big” music – that has soloistic performance as its final outcome – is now complemented by alternative routes that are not necessarily aimed at developing professional skills (though this end is not excluded – just think of Emmanuel Pahud, the prominent flautist) and that provide further experiences that the well-known course is lacking: the unmitigated pleasure of living the relationship with sound, scrumptious musical game, unlimited richness of improvisation and unsuspected benefits of the association of movement with music.
Main Project Partners:
- ArCuB www.arcub.ro
- University of Iceland – Iceland Center for Music Research www.english.hi.is
- Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music – Kodaly Institute www.kodaly.hu
- National Music University of Bucharest www.unmb.ro
- Dalcroze Association Romania www.dalcroze.ro
The Project aims to:
- Build an active community of educators, trainers and researchers in the field of music education, which might generate in the future further activities focused on early music education and application of music in various areas;
- Enrich and diversify music educational principles and methods in schools and kindergartens in Romania;
- Introduce new music courses inspired by the Dalcroze, Orff and Kodaly music education approaches;
- Develop permanent or specific cooperation relations between organisations from Iceland, Hungary and Romania, aimed at training early music education professionals;
- Generate music education projects in the associative and institutional circles;
- Raise awareness of the public at large to the importance of music and music education;
- Attract the public to practicing and actively listening authentic music;
- Sensitise Romanians to quality music – a critical cultural constituent;
- Create a media segment interested in and aware of music education and its benefits.
Main Activities in the Project:
15 October 2015, 11:00 hours: Launching Conference
19 – 20 November 2015: Kodaly Workshops, delivered by Borbála Szirányi, Kodaly Method expert, professor with the Kodaly Institute of the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music, Hungary
28 – 29 January 2016: Workshops for professionals working with the intellectually disabled, developed and delivered by Myriam Curchod, member of the Dalcroze Association of Romania, professor of music and rhythm at Jaques-Dalcroze Institute, Geneva
10 – 11 March 2016: Dalcroze Workshops, developed and delivered by Anne-Claire Rey-Bellet, co-founder of the Dalcroze Association of Romania, professor of music and rhythm at Jaques-Dalcroze Institute, Geneva
19 – 20 May 2016: Orff Workshops, developed and delivered by Kristin Valsdottir, expert professor in Orff Method, Dean of the Department of Education by Arts of the Arts Academy of Iceland
28 – 30 June 2016: The Final Conference will bring together experts form several countries who will be tackling topics on music, music pedagogy and music applicability in various areas.