Zoltán Kodály [ˈzoltaːn ˈkodaːj] in The Hague

Muziek als Vak started in 2009 as a project under the umbrella of a larger scale development by the ministry of education. The aim was to develop new methodologies for subjects at a primary school level. The Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, together with 5 primary schools from the same city, entered a proposal for the development of a music methodology based on the works of Hungarian music pedagogue Zoltán Kodály, the so-called Kodály methodology. In the project, this methodology was adapted to the Dutch primary school situation.

Since 2012, the Kodály methodology is also actively used in the conservatoire itself. Not only did the method gain a firm position in the methodology used in teaching music theory, it was also the starting point of many teacher training courses. Now comprising of a biannual Masterclass Weekend, a ‘Saturday course’, and, since 2014, an accredited Master programme (“Master in Music Education according to the Kodály concept”), Muziek als Vak and the Royal Conservatoire can now be called the center of Kodály methodology in The Netherlands.

The Kodály-method and ideas about music education

Singing is the central element in music lessons according to the Kodály methodology. To be able to teach in this way, teachers themselves must have high level musical skills, or musicianship. Traditional repertoire and newly composed music alike shape a musically challenging learning process. Relative solmization, hand signs, and rhythm language, are used as tools to develop a student’s musical literacy. Students experience that they progress and grow, and develop skills with which they at a later stage can make their own independent musical choices.

The Kodály methodology was developed in the mid 20th century in Hungary. The vision of composer, teacher, and ethnomusicologist Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967) inspired his pupils and co-workers to the development of a teaching plan, starting at a young age and focused on the long term. Quality and joyful music making are the starting point.

Kodály became interested in music education after hearing his students sing songs from their early childhood. He wrote many articles, opinion pieces, and essays to draw attention to the problem of music education in primary schools. The programme in these schools lacked attention to music, causing students to lack a good musical fundament by the time they reached secondary school. Music education, Kodály said, should be started in the early years, and deserved good teachers, a good curriculum, better repertoire, and structural (preferably daily) music lessons.