Music is an integral part of everyone’s life. There is no aspect of any person’s life which does not include music or has never been influenced by music. There are many who take up music as a career and so we find that many colleges and universities across the world have included many programs and courses in music. These programs are directed towards those people who want to learn about this art. But in the daily course of life music provides a very good medium for expressing one’s thoughts and feelings. That is why one would see that whatever one’s mood might be there will always be some kind of music that helps soothe and calm the mind.
Importance of a philosophy of music education
Learning music and taking it up as an education is an option which should be exercised by all students. The society in which we live today has facilitated music for the people by making recorded cassettes, CDs and DVDs widely available. This has changed the trend of having to perform music oneself and made those who are not able to play instruments capable of enjoying this pleasure in life. Music helps develop the cognitive ability in a child and also helps build strong reasoning capabilities. Music offers an opportunity to children to better themselves and helps them grow into confident and successful adults.
Joanne Erwin, in her book, has said that music helps develop a child in five basic areas which also help foster the personality of the child. These five areas are emotionally, intellectually, physically, personally and socially. This highlights the importance of music education. Following these lines many philosophers and writers have offered their views on the philosophies of music education. Music education has been considered important because helps one get close to their heritage and culture. Most of all music helps in developing connections between the mind and the body. Performing on musical instruments helps in developing the motor skills in people and also in improving the hand and eye coordination which otherwise takes time to develop in the human body.
For the above mentioned reasons and many other which people experience on an individual level music education is very important and this mandates the importance of philosophies of music education. These philosophies help in better communication between two individuals and even between teams when they are introduced to the world of music and helps students express themselves and whatever emotion that they might be feeling. Connecting with music is a wonderful opportunity which everyone must be allowed to experience and this why it is necessary to have a philosophy for music education. Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly are two music composers who have written about music education and its many philosophies. Kodaly, in his philosophy, has said that music can help in building not just a child’s intellect but also increase his or her response time, expand the vocabulary, improve the memory and also help the child create a positive image about him.
Similarly, the philosophy and teaching method which was introduced by Carl Orff is considered as one of the most insightful methods of teaching music to children. His method engages the mind and the body of the child through a mixture of various performing arts. Both these philosophies give a child a complete holistic development along with teaching him or her about music.
About Carl Orff
Carl Orff is considered as one of the finest composers of the 20th century. Along with wonderful musical creations he has also given the world an influential approach for music education. Born in Munich in 1985, he started studying the piano at the age of 5 and also took organ and cello lessons. However since a very young age he displayed more inclination towards composing music rather than performing music composed by others. By the time he turned into a teenager he started composing songs and started studying the art of composing without any teacher. In 1911, when Orff was 16 years old, his music was published. Being German, most of his songs and compositions were based on German poetry.
Orff was then accepted into the Munich Academy of Music where he studied till he enrolled to serve in World War I. After the war, where he was severely injured, he came back to music and pursued his studies. During the mid 1920s Orff began to formulate the concept for which he is the most widely known, which is called elementare Musik or elemental music. This music is based on the unity of the arts which involve tone, poetry, dance, design, image and theatrical gestures. (Philip Glass, 1989)
Some of the best works composed by Carl Orff include Carmina Burana which he finished in 1936, Der Mond and Die Kluge. Antigonae is also a very famous composition by Carl Orff as well as his last composition De temporum fine comoedia. His last work was premiered at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1973 and received much acclaim because of its presentation. Other compositions by Orff include Orpheus, Lange der Ariadne, Entrata for the orchestra after The Bells, Catuli Carmina and Prometheus among many others.
However in the circle of pedagogy works, Carl Orff is best known for his work Schulwek or School Work. IN his tenure as the head of department in the school which he opened with Dorothee Gunther, he developed his theories for teaching music and published a manual which was called Schulwerk. Beig in constant touch with children Orff utilized this opportunity to study how music education can be best possible for them. In this work he has also shared the various methods of conducting which he personally saw or followed. He wrote other books as well on radio broadcasts and how children can be motivated to perform music.
The Orff Approach
The Orff Method or the Orff Approach is a method or a way of teaching used to teach children music. This method helps in engaging both the body and the mind of the child through a highly evolved mixture of singing, dancing, acting and with the use of percussion instruments. The method of imparting instructions is not the traditional method where the teacher speaks and the children listen. Under this method lessons are presented with an element of play which helps the children earn at their own level of understanding.
The main ideas behind this philosophy developed by Carl Orff was that he believed music, dance and language are all inter-related and animated through the rhythm that they follow. Music is one field in which every person can make a contribution regardless of whether they belong to this field or not. The Orff approach is also very practical which the main idea was when Orff developed his approach. Music along with movement games and activities lead to movement improvisation and generation of dance forms.
About Zoltan Kodaly
Zoltan Kodaly was a Hungarian composer who composed most of his works in the 20th century. He is also considered as a pedagogue, linguist, philosopher and ethnomusicologist. Kodaly was introduced to music as a child when he started learning to play the violin. In 1905 he started visiting villages in Hungary in search of folk music which he recorded. This led to the writing of his thesis on Hungarian folk music in 1906. All his music has always displayed a high sense of originality and high sophistication. Until 1923 Kodaly had no major musical success but in that year he wrote the most popular of his compositions Psalmus Hungaricus.
Kodaly spent much of his life in studying the problems of music education and worked a lot in this area which led to the creation of his philosophy or method which is used by teachers even today. In 1935 he started a project to improve the quality of music education in lower and middle schools and this work has influenced many books in the field of education. Some of the most popular compositions written by Kodaly include Hary Janos, Summer Evening, Dances of Galanta, Symphony, Epigrammak, Este and Te Deum among many others. (De Nora, Tia, 2003)
The Kodaly Method
The Kodaly Method is focused on developing music skills in very young children. This method makes used of folk songs, hand signs, movable-do, pictures, rhythm symbols and syllables. This method recognizes that each child has the potential and the right to music education. It follows the method of incorporating games, playing instruments, movements, reading and even writing along with singing. In this method the voice is the main instrument used by the children since all the emphasis is on developing the mind of the child based on singing and its accompaniments.
Songs of high artistic value and mainly which are based on folk music or folk songs are used in a Kodaly classroom. Songs which are in the pentatonic scale are encouraged to be used as a beginning level and it is believed that it can be taken higher from that point. Chants, lullabies, nursery rhymes, dancing songs etc can also be used under this method. (Bolcom, William, 1997)
Kodaly believed that music should be the core of the curriculum of a school. He also said that the body is the best medium of making music and so singing and movement should always be accompanied when making music. It gives more room for expression of emotions and for communicating one’s thoughts. Kodaly said that every person has a mother tongue which they speak at home and the music in this language provides an excellent source for drawing various elements which can contribute to music literacy. This is what inspired his interest in folk songs and folk music. Kodaly philosophy also says that music literacy is like language literacy and that quality music is the best material for teaching children.
Comparison of philosophies of Kodaly and Orff
Kodaly and Orff both are some of the most original and brilliant composers of the 20th century. Having lived and survived through two World Wars and carious other country disturbances, their music has helped bring peace and creativity into the world. However, even more remarkable is their contribution in the field of music education. Both the philosophies developed by Kodaly and Orff have helped bring a change in the teaching industry especially in the teaching of education. If one compares both the methods one would find certain similarities and differences.
Similarity in both the methods is basically the goal that both the methods target which is to improve the quality of music education. Along with that both the methods target a holistic approach and complete development of the child i.e. of the body and of the mind and also encourage the children to innovate and participate with original ideas and compositions. This helps give the children an outlet for their creativity and for their expressions which is very important in children to help them grow into confident adults. Both the methods focus on rhythm and body movements and the composition of music by following this pattern. Both the philosophies believe that every student has the right to music education which is a philosophy that the patrons of these methods also shared.
The differences however are in the actual method of the two philosophies. The Orff method puts a lot of focus on the use of percussion and other instruments while under the Kodaly method it is believed that the voice is the best instrument. Use of folk songs and folk music is very prominent in the Kodaly method and mostly pre-existing songs are used for teaching while in the Orff method the children are encouraged to pick up any instrument and compose a music for the poem or story that is being taught. (Bimber, Bruce, 1990)
Carl Orff and Zoltan Kodaly have made some very significant contributions in the field of music. Their compositions will always be cherished by many generations to come but their contribution in the field of music education has helped make music accessible to lots of children across the world. The practical applicability and result orientation their methods has made very popular among teachers across the world and this has helped improve the quality of music education which was the ultimate goal of both patrons. While the philosophies might differ in their individual approaches, they focus on the body as well the mind of the child and help in a complete and holistic development. Children are encouraged to experiment with music and to play original compositions without any fear of being reprimanded or the stress of having to perform. This makes music fun for them and also grows their interest in this field. While Kodaly might have focused on folk music and Orff on percussion instruments it still stands that their contributions have led to making music a part of every child’s life. They have also provided an excellent means of communication and expression to the children because in either cases music is the best companion. Their contribution in the field of education will stay for many more centuries to come.
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