Budapest (MTI) – Sarolta Kodaly, the widow of Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967), trusts that the Kodaly method of music education will get a fresh impetus in Hungary.

“I always hoped that there would be a chance to bring back the world in which my husband’s concept of music education was realised in over 100 Hungarian schools,” she told MTI.

The composer’s second wife, who rarely gives interviews, spoke to MTI on the 40th anniversary of the founding of the International Kodaly Society, of which she is honorary president, and the Kodaly Pedagogical Institute in Kecskemet, in central Hungary.

The essence of the method is to get children to sing every day from kindergarten on. At Kodaly’s initiative, several music primary schools where music was taught daily were opened from the 1950s.

“Although singing on a daily basis had beneficial effects on pupils’ performance in other subjects, the number of such schools has unfortunately dwindled. Even if Kodaly’s personal presence is painfully missing, we know exactly what Kodaly would say we should do,” Sarolta Kodaly said. “In Hungary the method seems to be a little on the wane. However, I am optimistic about the recent ministerial initiative to reintroduce singing in Hungarian schools on a daily basis,” she added.

Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967)

The method eventually spilled outside of Hungary’s borders, with initially the United States and Japan showing the keenest interest, she said. Later on, Kodaly’s approach to music education also gained ground in France and Britain. Then Greece set up a very successful conservatory applying the method, and there are very interesting developments in China, too, she said.

Over the past few decades the Kodaly method has been used with different degrees of intensity, depending on the period and country. Some countries “made skillful advances” and in some respects even left Hungarians behind, she said.

Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog announced after the Europa Cantat festival in Pecs in early August that the ministry plans to introduce singing on a daily basis in Hungarian schools.

Later on, he said the ministry would primarily support school choirs and the training of music teachers rather than add further lessons to the school curricula.

Daily singing could help revive the Kodaly method and could be combined with the teaching of music reading and writing, Sarolta Kodaly said. She warned, however, that this practice should be introduced with due circumspection, initially only in schools where there is demand and the conditions for that.

Sarolta Kodaly (1940) studied at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music before graduating as solo singer in Berlin. She worked as a lecturer in Budapest and gave recitals and master classes in Germany, Italy, Finland, the United States and Japan.

Photo: MTI


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