Last summer I began my journey into the world of all things Zolton Kodály. Little did I know this training would not only challenge me as a musician and an educator but as a human being. I find myself each moment discovering more and more about this amazing man and educator, and each time my mind is blown away.
For those of you unfamiliar with Zoltan Kodály, here is just a brief little overview. Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) was a Hungarian composer, philosopher, and nationalist. While he did not develop the method, his colleagues and students took his ideas and teachings and developed the Kodály method of music teaching. According to Kodály educator Susan Brumfield, “In reality, the teaching inspired by Kodaly may be more accurately described as an approach to music education, based on Kodály’s vision for the musical, intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of children. Kodály-inspired music education is known for its sequential development of skills, emphasis on music literacy and singing-based curriculum” (First, We Sing! Kodaly-Inspired Teaching 8).
When educators like myself want to achieve certification in the Kodály approach, there are three levels of training to complete. These levels offer educators intensive training in musicianship, methodology, conducting, and folk dancing. Yes, you read that correctly, folk dancing! Last summer I took my Level One training, and you can read all about that here: Level One Wrap Up. Level One was intense; Level Two was insane. But, a great insane.
To start off, let me tell you just a few moments that will go down in the Meghan Loyd, Hot Mess Express Hall of Fame. Trust me, this is a great Hall of Fame. I should sell tickets just for a viewing.
Hot Mess Express Number 1: The Books.
I ordered all of my needed materials for class three weeks before classes started. Well, for whatever unexplained reason, UPS will not deliver to my apartment complex. They will deliver to the Post Office, and then the Post Office will deliver to me. I did not know this--if I had, I would have ordered them five years in advance. The class was set to start, but I still did not have materials; luckily a wonderful friend of mine let me borrow her materials. My books arrived on Week Two, Day Three of my two-week course. However, the Postal Service delivered them to my apartment complex office that opens at 9 am and closes at 5 pm...I was in class from 8:30-5:00. I now have my books. The class was over, but I had the resources. When I called UPS, they told me if they could deliver to my apartment complex, they would have just placed them outside of my door. Thanks for the reassuring information of what you would do if you could have done something. Get your life together, UPS!
Hot Mess Express Number 2: The Dress.
One day I wanted to be fancy, and I wore a dress. That day there was a tornado warning and wind gusts that gave me more than one Marilyn Monroe moment. But perhaps the greatest moment came in folk dancing: when I decided to get fancy and do a little spin, my dress decided to do a little spin too and showed my instructor my pink polka dot undies.
Hot Mess Express Number Three: The Glasses.
My dog ate my glasses. For real, it happened. In the middle of the night, said puppy got hold of my frames I need to function and chewed them to bits. So, I missed my morning musicianship class because I needed to get new frames and lenses.
While those moments will forever be in my mind when I think about Kodály Level Two, the moments of learning will always outshine the crazy. I finally understand modes, along with the tagline “What the Phrygian?” When I become a better musician, I become a better educator. I learned to “cut the crap” and that my students should be working harder than I am. I hand my students everything on a silver platter, and I now I realize the huge disservice I have done them. Do they know the concepts, or have they just leaned so heavily on the crutch I gave them that they make me think they know the concepts? I have a huge habit of singing while conducting, and I need to break that habit. I’m just giving my students one more place “to read” from; it is confusing for them. Are they following my mouth, or are they following my conducting gestures? At any rate, this only creates a crutch to their learning.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I write about community. I believe educators need community. My Kodály training has provided me with the greatest community I could have ever asked for, and for that I am thankful. These music educators are amazing to me. They have made me laugh till I cried and almost peed my pants, they embraced and accepted my quirky brand of crazy, they have inspired me, and they have empowered me. To my Kodály Ballers, thank you. You are my tribe, my people, and my heart. Growing and learning with you has been my greatest joy. My instructors are amazing. To Sandy Knudsen and Bev Aynan, I will never be able to repay you for your guidance, mentorship, and love. Perhaps the best way I can is through my teaching. I strive daily to make you proud! Kodály has given me another family of music educators, and I love that! We cannot do this incredibly important job alone. We need each other.
My biggest take away is this: we need music now more than ever before. Zolton Kodály once said, “We must look forward to a time when all people in all lands are brought together through singing, and when there is universal harmony.” When Kodaly was at the height of his career, and his beloved Hungary was reeling from the aftermath of World War I, he lived through World War II and watched his country fall behind the Iron Curtain. I can’t imagine he thought things could get any worse for his land and his people. He held onto hope and believed the world could be brought together through singing. We need music today. We need to sing. We need to sing loudly and together. We need to believe our song will bring peace. At the end of our Level Two concert, and at the end of many sessions meetings of Kodaly Educators across the nation, they close out the meetings with the song “Harmonia Mundi.” This 16th Century German Chorale arranged by Hungarian Lázló Vikár with English text by Sean Deibler leaves me in tears every time. There is something magical about community singing, and in today’s climate, these words need to be sung.
We gather here together with joyful hearts and minds.
To raise our voices ever, our distance souls to bind.
To remember in this moment of friendship, love, and joy.
That music made together can one day heal mankind.