Archive for June, 2009

But first I haven’t posted for a while. Kidney Stone. Which passed quietly in the night a few days back. My son, in a rare moment of understatement christened the stone “annoyo”. Annoying isn’t even close!

While I’ve been convalescing the lovely MagnetoBoldToo graced this wee blog to ask what Kodaly is…

Kodaly is a fellow, a (an?) Hungarian who developed a philosophy and systematic approach to teaching music to children. When Kodalyphiles say Kodaly they usually mean this philosophy and approach rather than the man.

Consider how we learn to read and write. We start with literate parents, who saturate our environment with skilled speaking. Most parents have enough verbals skills to nurture a baby’s language development and deliver them to formal education a few years later – speaking clearly with complex and sophisticated aspects of language.

And then begin daily language and literacy programs from trained teachers, who draw from research and pondering of literacy academics. These last what? Thirteen years? Of increasingly complex and abstract understandings of our own language. In thirteen years, our education of literacy allows us to develop from say learning B is for Ball, to comparing and contrasting the themes of the individual verses those in power in 1984 and Lord of the Flies.

Imagine if our music education was treated similarly. Imagine if parents and childcare workers all sang in tune, to their babies and children were delivered to formal education having had their infancy saturated with lovely singing. And then began a program of daily musical education, delivered with highly trained teachers, and supported by research and pondering of musical academics. Based on the instrument we are all born with. (not the bum trumpet Kelley. The voice.)

Zolton Kodaly and his posse, were go getter types. They didn’t imagine it. They implemented it. So Hungary (until recently) was full of freakishly musical people. And the ideas of his education have spread around the globe. Not many education systems have gone for placing music education alongside language and literacy. But we do what we can!

At my uni course, I experience Kodaly from two separate angles. As a student and as a music educator. I study how to use Kodaly to teach music and I also learn more about music through the Kodaly training myself.

So far what have I gleaned of Kodaly:

Firstly like language, people learn by hearing. So if you want to teach some aspect of music you must prepare songs where that element exists. And sing it with your students. Then they LISTEN to discover the element. This means that after some time of being taught in this way, Kodaly students develop GREAT musical hearing. The more I sing, the more important I believe this is. Students become so good at hearing that they could silently read music, the way we read a book. And hear it ‘in their heads’. Much of the teaching of Kodaly is about developing different aspects of musical hearing.

Kodaly teaching gives a systematic approach to the teacher, of a simple sequential method for teaching elements of music – WHAT to teach. There is also a lot of great philosophy about HOW to teach. Things like everyone needs to be making music nearly all of the time, teacher blathering on is FAIL.

I have adapted what I’ve learnt in my course to make a theory book for my young singing students. And it’s miraculous to watch their skill develop over two years. They really can now pick up a simple piece of music and sing it, without hearing the notes from the piano. I also have adapted what I have learnt to my adult choirs. In both my choirs, rehearsals now start with musicianship training, and the benefits of this to the quality of the choirs is FANTASTIC.

Also I have learnt how to be a disciplined, focused music director and teacher, from Kodaly and it’s really been extraordinary. If people sing most of the time, and I don’t yabber on most of the time, they are busy doing the good stuff – and their attention doesn’t wane. This is useful in adult education because it’s bad manners to get adults in trouble. So it’s particularly great if they just behave, because they are engaged. I imagine this must be even more useful for school teachers, who can also avoid classroom management dramas by keeping kids totally on the go.

At the end of my first summer school, I was a combination of exhausted and exhillerated. My mind was mushy but my heart was on fire. I wept for hours for the beauty of it.

I’m not normally a disciple of any philosophy, you know I’m normally a bit too hmm maybe jaded? for that. But in this case, I have found my musical home.  Of course dear lady, if you want even more info I could go on at great length but maybe this answers your question?

BTW Solfa are the little names for each note. Remember Do a deer a female deer? Without going into the dorkiness or otherwise of that Movie – they sure got the solfa right in that song. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti Do. Just like the seven dwarfs.

Enough Kodaly. Here’s a chemistry lesson.


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Did i mention a year and a half ago, I discovered Kodaly? And it wasn’t a turning point, so much as a complete disjoint. Like I had been on land and then went into the water. Or maybe the other way. Anyway land based similes aside, it was a life revolution.

I may also have mentioned that the course in Kodaly is offered at an interstate uni and I leave home and family for my annual, two week pilgrimage. And fifty weeks of the year are the time between schools. Populated with lovely day to day events. But some part of me is just waiting.

And how this is looking precarious because the man who runs all this is leaving. At the end of the year. Next semester will be the last time he offers Kodaly at this Uni.

So Husband and I have hatched a crazy scheme. I am going to study with this man next Semester, and commute. I’ll probably spend 8 hours in travel time each week, and I can’t even type how much it will cost. For a two hour class each week.

But I am going to do it. Follow my heart. So I’ve been weeping for joy on the couch, watching so you can think you can dance through the tears.  So happy that my joy outweighs the guilt I feel at spending this outrageous time, money and energy on something so hairbrained.

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What are you doing?


Well that’s not good enough. Do something. Do something productive, insightful, creative, helpful, selfless. Contribute. Make. Build. Move. Be Busy. For goodness, DO SOMETHING. Don’t waste time. Life is too short for nothingness.

Oh. Why? Maybe I’ll just sit here and watch the trees. I’ll be still but my mind will just float, like smoke into the sky.

But, but, but, that’s time crime. To sit and waft like smoke…

No. It is good to do. Come sit with me and I wont say TRY, because that would be too much pressure. Instead just sit.

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haiku friday

i heard my heart song

with outrageous melody

we are just two fools.


not a symphony;

riotous cacophony

you are the cello.

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…thank you for holding. Your call has progressed in the queue and will be answered by an agent shortly…

oooh an agent. very suave. Nice touch. I can hardly wait to speak to hmmm, I’ll think of them as 73.

Today is home day. And drop the bundle day. Catch up on all the feelings. For some reason, my emotions lag behind my living. So I’ve got a backlog of feelings from the last week, all piled up ready for me this morning.  Like an overflowing in tray (inbox for the 21stc folks), waiting for you after a week’s holiday.

I continue to wait for a decision from the uni here about whether I can study. Waiting is character building innit? FFS I think my character’s chubbing up a bit too much eh?

Yesterday I taught piano at the school where I normally teach voice. Filling in between the old teacher (who passed away unexpectedly) and the new teacher who doesn’t exist yet. I anticipated dramas – it’s been decades since I learnt the piano. Could I remember anything? Turned out fine. My fingers remembered, even if the rest of me had forgotten. I was also worried that the kids would be pretty miserable after losing their teacher.  They were also fine – or at least they weren’t making a big deal yesterday. But why would they talk to a stranger about their feelings?

Ooh I just chatted to one agent. They transfered me to another agent, who is transfering me to yet another agent. Hmm. Maybe I should have sent an email. Then all this exciting transfering could have happened without my involvement. Australian Government Department. Second person with a thick Indian accent. Have they gone offshore?Maybe I could hire someone offshore to represent me?

Aha. An email just popped up. A response from a restaurant chain about the existence or non existence of one, conveniently located shop that has a google shadow, but a dead phone number. Thanks for responding – the dinner was last night.

This post is degenerating into a whinge. Well I might as well go for it.

Everyone in my family has been sick. So they’ve HAD time off, but now, need to resume education. The younguns are still coughing, and being about 95% well and wanting to stay home and play WoW and generally be exceedingly well and vibrant, at home.


Currently mornings are a battle.

The younger one is a method actor, so he’s deeply in touch with his inner ill child. He becomes his character and genuinely feels sick. Husband and I are true amateurs. We step out of character, and bundle him off to school.

And Husband is sick. And miserable about being sick. And apologetic about both. Dear heart.

Oh I just another call. Isn’t life exciting when you put the phone next to the computer? I’m going to talk to some management folks about conducting, and how conductors lead groups of people. That is going to take some serious pondering.

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The Cull

My town (around 1m population) is divided into the plains and the hills. The plains are normal, Aussie city stuff, with modulating socioeconomic suburbs and SPRAWL because Australians have a fear of medium and high density. During summer the plains are dry, because summer is now rainless.
The hills are hmm. hilly. Treey, a bit colder all year round. Populated with little villages and quaint shops and lovely mountain air. And VIEWS. OMG…

pretty hills picha

Any who, for the last something years, seven or eight or something, we’ve been living in the plains. Ho hum.
In the next few months, it will be time to move back to the hills. Hooray.
And I’m thinking – if I know we are going to move months in advance, maybe I could try to ease the pain of moving by starting the pre move cull now. It’s hard to get into moving modality though, you know, where nothing is safe.

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Gym Fever

I must go down to the gym again to the only gym on my street

and all I ask is the iron will to go back after three weeks

and the same weights  that I had before without my muscles shaking

And a grin still on my face and no sweat breaking.

(Like I read in the culturally rich Dolly Magazine, during my formative years – it’s cool to be a dag. Surely that can’t have changed in two decades?)

Oh. the internet moves quickly eh? They’ve already made this into a song.

Here’s Eddie getting the words wrong but singing rather lovelyly anyway.

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