Bannockburn Christian Academy - Austin Texas Private School

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Building Scholar-Musicians

Many of you graciously support and attend the Academy’s Christmas and Spring musical performances, but what else do our scholar-musicians do during the year? We learn through the dimensions of the Kodály methodology!

This past summer, I proudly completed a three-year journey to earn my Kodály Certification. The Austin ISD partners with Texas State to bring in the top Kodály instructors in the nation to equip local instructors with curriculum and teaching guidance (and to assign us a lot of homework!).

The Kodály methodology (pronounced Ko-dye), inspired by the philosophy of Zoltan Kodály, builds individual and group singing/musical skills. Research shows that the use of the methodology correlates with improvements in general classroom behavior and attitudes. Moreover, the methodology boosts reading advancements and powers learning through critical thinking. Kodály achieves musicianship primarily through singing, although the methodology utilizes instruments to enhance and support learning.

kodalyhand-rows

The five main dimensions of musicianship in the Kodály method are (1) stewards of cultural heritage, (2) performance through singing, moving and playing instruments, (3) music literacy, (4) improvisation, and (5) informed audience members.

Here are some brief ways we incorporate these dimensions into Music class:

(1) Stewards of cultural heritage – Zoltan Kodály deeply believed in the importance of leveraging a repertoire of folk songs indigenous to each child’s culture. These songs are presented in an order that is best suited to the developmental level of the child. Thus, the music incorporated is already a part of the children’s cultural experience. You would likely recognize many of the folk songs we sing in class, including “Rain, Rain, Go Away” and “Dinah.”

(2) Performance through singing, moving, and playing instruments – This is an easy one! Everything we do includes singing, moving and playing instruments. From K4 to 5th grade, we incorporate these skills daily. By the upper grades, we are performing our curriculum-based songs while using multiple instrumental accompaniments (sometimes improvised by our scholars!) and singing in a round. The coordinated outcome is truly a lovely moment.

(3) Music literacy – Just as we all learn to read and write in our native language – and often in additional languages, music is also a language that needs to be learned. In addition to performing new concepts and skills, we also practice reading and writing musical patterns, including rhythms and melodies expressed in stick patterns and on the music staff.

(4) Improvisation – This can be a very scary word! When we hear “improvisation,” we picture a virtuosic pianist composing an entire piece on the spot, or a jazz singer scatting her way through the interlude. But, even our Kindergartners can improvise! All they need is a choice. For example, when we are discovering “loud and soft” or “fast and slow” sounds, one of our scholars can choose one of our songs and how we should perform it. One choice might be “Bounce High, Bounce Low” with a soft voice. The difficulty level rises every year, and, by 4th/5th, our scholars can answer my musical phrase with one of their own, choosing from a list of answers and singing it back to me. The photo below is an example of the question and answer exercise for the upper grades.

(5) Informed audience members – This dimension includes listening skills and critical thinking skills, important capabilities across any discipline. This strand culminates in the 4th and 5th grades when we prepare for and attend a concert by the Austin Symphony. The following photo is from our trip last May to the Long Center for the concert.

Rigorously applying the dimensions of the Kodály methodology ensures our BCA scholars truly become scholar-musicians.

Visit BCA’s Music page to learn more about the Kodály system and how it is incorporated at BCA.

Musically,

Elizabeth Gilligan

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