In 2019, The Muse provided scholarships for some educators from around Aotearoa to attend the Kodály teacher training, organised by Kodály Aotearoa (Megan Flint). They speak about their experience...

Lala Simpson, Community Musician

In 2019, I received a scholarship from the Muse Community Trust to attend a Kodaly training in Hawkes Bay. I will always be forever grateful to have had that opportunity. Music and singing in particular have always been an integral part of my life. As a Madagascan woman, I grew steeped in oral/aural tradition and Kodaly bridged the two worlds of my tradition and written music. It has reinvigorated my passion for community music, given me an extra dose of confidence in my work, and inspired me to keep on being curious and expanding my horizons. I also loved the fellowship between participants and the encouragement you get from each other as well as the tutors who are top-class and passionate.  Currently, I lead 2 choirs and run singing workshops for schools. I also run community singing workshops and vocal training for adults and use a lot of what I gained through my training in my style of teaching

Kathy Roy, Wellington College

During my school years, I didn't have a consistent experience of Music education and really struggled with many aspects of Music Theory. In particular, reading rhythms, sight singing, and aural transcription skills. I failed all of my external NCEA music examinations.
I was lucky that I was a strong Composer and I received a position at a university in Australia to study Composition. It was here that I first learned about the Kodály approach to music education. My aural and theory teacher was a Kodály specialist who had trained at the Kodály Institute in Hungary. I immediately loved the classes and the play-based approach (a welcome break from Uni stresses). I was so surprised that by the beginning of Second Semester, I was reading rhythms confidently, sight singing fluidly, and could aurally transcribe chords, melodies and rhythms. These were skills that I thought I would never have and I felt like the skills had just developed naturally through the approach my teacher had. Honestly, rhythm syllables changed my life!

At the time, I had no plans to become a classroom Music Teacher. However, fate had other plans and a few years later, I found myself back in NZ training as a Secondary School Music Teacher. In my first few jobs, I tried my best to purchase resources and implement the Kodály approach in my classes, with mixed success. Some students would get it, but it wasn't having the same impact as my own experience. I knew it was because I didn't know how to emulate the teaching methodology and how to appropriately sequence these skills.

I am grateful to The Muse Community Music Trust for their assistance to attend the Secondary One course through Kodály Aotearoa

The work was complex and a challenge, but you were safely carried by spectacular lecturers. The lecturers were so knowledgeable and humble; so intelligent and kind. The content and their approach opened my eyes to how to appropriately apply what I was missing into my classroom practice to give my students the best support for their success and confidence. I also learned valuable conducting skills that have helped me become a better conductor today. More than anything, it increased my confidence as a teacher and musician.

When I returned to the classroom, the transformation to my student's achievement and ability was amazing. I had Year 7 students sight singing, transposing melodies, composing, and improvising within the first 5 weeks of their Music rotation. As the course was attended by other teachers in NZ, I was also able to build quality relationships with other practitioners who I am still in touch with today. Safe to say, I was hooked. At the beginning of 2020, I travelled to Brisbane with a few other teachers from NZ and completed the Primary 1 course. This year, I completed Secondary 2 online. While I have a long way to go in my journey as a Kodály practitioner, I struggle to find the words to describe the impact these courses have made on my development as a teacher and a musician. I am so excited to be completing Secondary 3 next year (and then completing the Primary courses after that!). It is hard work, but when does anything worth having not require hard work?

Jade Browne  jadebrowne@outlook.co.nz

As a post-graduate student, I was instantly drawn to the Kodály methodology the moment I saw it in action. Being classically trained, I had never seen a play-based curriculum being enacted in a musical setting, nor one that was structured to develop musical literacy skills, while also instilling a love of learning and a love for music. After experiencing a Kodàly based programme, I was amazed to see the deep understanding these children had of music, being able to dictate, compose and improvise, something that I still struggled with even after completing a Bachelor of Music! What was even more incredible was seeing the pure delight and joy on these children’s faces as they played “Chicken on a Fencepost”, as I embarrassingly had never seen this level of enjoyment and engagement in a classroom setting.  

After this experience, I became obsessed trying to understand what I saw in the classroom that day, reading any book I could get my hands on. From these books, I was able to adopt numerous games and activities, however I was still unable to recreate what I had experienced that day in the classroom. In 2019, I was privileged to be supported by the trust, to attend the Hastings Teacher Training course, marking the beginning of a journey that would forever change my teaching practice.  

Being led by highly regarded international teachers, I undertook classes in musicianship, conducting, choir, materials, and pedagogy. Over the course of ten days, I began to understand music and sound in an entirely new way. As this course was also attended by teachers across Aotearoa, I was fortunate to also develop a professional network of educators that would regularly share resources and discuss teaching strategies, many of whom I have become close friends with. After completing Primary 1 and seeing how this methodology had transformed my practice, one of the schools I was teaching at provided financial support to attend the Primary 2 course in Brisbane before the pandemic hit. With two courses under my belt, there was no other option than to complete the requirements of Primary 3 online during the pandemic. While I am continuing to learn and develop my skills, I can confidently say that this has been a transformative journey as one that will continue to support my teaching practice for many years to come.  

Hazel Fenemor Wainuiomata High School

My teaching practice benefitted hugely from taking the Secondary 1 course with James, and the scholarship I received made it possible for me to go on the course. He demonstrated how to teach the fundamental skills of being a musician, in a highly structured way. I put my Kodaly training into practice straight away at my school, with immediate tangible results. My students were more engaged, progressed faster, and were more confident in their ability. Even those students that I had been really struggling with were able to feel a sense of achievement with the highly scaffolded activities we did in class.