Christa McCartney 


Harpist, Gaelic singer, Kodaly Teacher

Zoltan Kodaly

Did you know that Hungary is perhaps the only country in the world which could boast almost national music literacy?

Over the span of two generations, a unified musical pedagogical system has evolved, leading a whole population of nearly 11 million people to love and have knowledge of music from kindergarten to college age within their normal public schooling.

The secret to their success is a revolutionary approach to music education pioneered by Zoltán Kodály. The Kodály music training method can develop fluency in reading and writing music, enhance sight-reading, sight-singing techniques and performance, and make music education a joyous experience.

Zoltán Kodály, (1882-1967) was one of the major composers and musicologists of the 20th century, who also devoted a significant part of his creative activity to the music education of the whole Hungarian people. 

The Kodály Music Educational Concept involves the very best principles of other European traditional methods, which, combined with his original new ideas and compositions provides a masterful combination of music theory and music making in full unity. Kodály’s concept was adopted in every school in Hungary 50 years ago, with the result that an entire nation became musically literate.  The outstanding results achieved in musical education in Hungary have justly attracted the attention of the whole musical world around the globe.The Kodály Method wasn’t intended to replace instrumental or vocal training, rather it preceeds it and compliments it. The aim of the Kodály Method is to develop high musicianship, which results in better musicians. Kodály identified four elements which define the true musician.

  • Developed inner hearing
  • Developed mind
  • Developed emotional sensitivity
  • Developed technique

All four elements must be trained simultaneously in good balance. This new educational approach was not designed only for the few exceptionally talented students, but for the life-long enrichment of the average child, it is after all as important to build a discerning audience as it is to nurture a gifted composer, conductor or performer.

The Kodály Concept has far reaching implications in psychology, logic, reasoning, aesthetics, creativity, etc. Students develop their musical thinking, and inner hearing through direct experience with the elements of music. Through the relative Solmization System they develop the sense of relative pitch; through a special rhythm training, they resolve not only rhythmical problems, but muscular co-ordination problems as well. 

Through the knowledge of basic music theory, they learn to understand the music which they play; they learn to memorize through the mind instead of through mechanical drilling of the fingers. The Kodály Method sharpens the student’s mental faculties, mental discipline, and develops a high level of imagination. As a result of this training the student can learn to hear the printed notes in his imagination, without the help of an instrument, and also will be able to write down music to which he listens. 

As Kodály said, “ a good musician should hear what he sees, and he should see (in terms of notes) what he hears.” In other words, through the Kodály Method, a student is able to  to read, listen to and understand music just as he reads, listens to, and understands his mother tongue.