Kodály 130


The Hungarian version of Google celebrates today with this doodle:


Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, pedagogue Zoltán Kodály was born 130 years ago. The Kodály method of music education was named after him. From the 1920’s on, Kodály was dedicated to improve music education in Hungary. His method has improved singing and the general music knowledge of generations of Hungarians. He was advocating for purposeful music education in the kindergarten (ages 3 to 6) in the early 40’s.

I first encountered the Kodály method after 7 years of music lessons, when I moved to Hungary in 6th grade. The music classes were very different from what I had experienced in other countries. They were heavily based on Hungarian folk music, lots of singing, some solfeggio, approaching concepts in a completely different order than I had been taught previously. One of the great advantages of the method was its focus on movable-do solfege. It changed my whole concept of music and sight singing. It has also taught me that I could sing a melody in a different pitch if I just found the right do. Seriously fun stuff when someone suddenly realizes they no longer have the angelic boy soprano voice they used to have!

The King’s Singers singing Kodály’s Esti dal (Evening song), in Hungarian.

Kodály was a lifelong friend of Béla Bartók. The two of them collected folk music all over Hungary, the Balkan and elsewhere, recording authentic folk singers, then publishing these songs. The richness of folk music–not only Hungarian, but any folk music–opened up to me during those initial years in Hungary, and then kept influencing my love of music. Many thanks go out for that to my music teacher at school, Juli néni and my violin teacher Géza bácsi, the solfeggio teacher Sári néni and the piano teachers Imre bácsi és Ildikó néni at the music school.


Israel’s music education is fixed-do solfege based, however, there are several teachers who are educated in the Kodály method. We are very blessed to have a substitute teacher covering for the regular music teacher while she is on maternity leave, who is one of the few Israelis who received their education in the Kodály method. My children really benefit from it!

And for all my Christian friends, here is Kodály’s “Adventi ének” (Advent Song), one that I have sung lot of times. Happy 3rd Sunday of Advent to you!

8 Responses to “Kodály 130”

  1. Shauna says:

    Very beautiful! The music this time of year is so pretty, and comes with bells!

  2. Shauna says:

    PS I also love the space they are singing in…a church or chapel, I guess it is. Orange and white, with shapes angelic or scroll like. Angels, I’m thinking.

    Peace to you, Hevel!


  3. Gabriela says:

    Would it be possible to know the date and source of the photo of Kodály conducting?

    Thank you very much for your post!

  4. Jorge Gardos says:

    I am a Kodaly student and your Google doodle caught my eye. I am doing presentations on his work and wondered if I would be allowed to use your Google sign. Thank you.

  5. Michele says:

    Shalom Hevel,

    I came across your post and thought I’d reach out to you. I’m making Aliyah in the fall, hold Kodaly Level 2 certification, and would be interested in meeting, and perhaps collaborating with other Kodaly educators. I’m intending to create Children’s music classes using Kodaly method focus.


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