“We should read music in the same way that an educated adult will read a book:

in silence, but imagining the sound.” Zoltán Kodály

Do you often wonder what Advent students are really learning in music?  Sometimes the benefits of music education seem less tangible when compared to subjects such as Math, English, Science or History.  As a first post for the new school year, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you some things happening in the general music classes (grades 1st-8th) at Advent.


The Kodály Method is a European approach to music education.  Zoltán Kodály, a Hungarian composer, author, and educator, introduced goals and philosophies of music education. Although the Kodály Method follows a set sequence, the materials used in teaching musical concepts vary depending on the age of the student. The sequence followed may be simplified as: listen – sing – understand – read and write – create. Students develop listening skills, sight-singing, ear training, learn how to play instruments, compose, improvise, sing, analyze, read and write music.

Below are some of the concepts we are learning in music at Advent that Kodály promoted:

  • Improve musical literacy in schools.
  • Everyone is capable and has the right to musical literacy.
  • Singing is the foundation of musical learning.
  • Music education must begin with the very young.
  • Incorporate games, movement, playing instruments, reading and writing music with singing.
  • Use a sequential process following a child’s natural learning development:

Aural – oral – kinesthetic
Written -read – recognize

Kodály’s belief was that the “voice is the main musical instrument.  “Singing, connected with movements and action, is a much more ancient and complex phenomenon than is simple singing.” Various rhythm and tonal instruments are also used, including recorders. By singing, rhythmic movement, hand signals, and simple songs, the Kodály approach engages the student’s “ear, eye, hand, and heart” all together, offering even the youngest of children the “direct intuition” of music as well as “the deep experience of happiness in music.”



Hand signals are used to show tonal relationships. Is the pitch going up? Is it going down? With the singer the instrument is inside. So, the use of hand signs, can be very advantageous, especially to the “beginner.” The Kodály method incorporates rhythmic syllables. In this system, note values are assigned specific syllables that express their lengths. For example, quarter notes are expressed by the syllable “ta” while eighth note pairs are expressed using syllables “ti-ti.” Longer note values are expresses using “to-oh” (half note), “to-oh-oh (dotted half note), and “ta-a-a-a” (whole note). These syllables are then used when sight-reading or otherwise performing rhythms.



We are so fortunate that music education is valued and promoted at Advent. We are setting a standard and teaching to the “whole child.’

Teach music and singing at school to instill a thirst for finer music in the student – a thirst which will last for a lifetime.” – Zoltán Kodály

Rick Phillips

To learn more about Advent Episcopal School, please visit our website: http://www.adventepiscopalschool.org.