As part of the mission of the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) to support music education of the highest quality, promote universal music literacy and lifelong music making, the National Office has developed the following benchmarks and standards.
The National Standards comprise the following nine Content Standards.
1. Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
Singing is central to the Kodály approach to music education. Kodály students sing in every music lesson from pre-school through high school. They sing for the joy of singing. They sing to develop a healthy, expressive voice, the one musical instrument everyone owns. They sing to express and learn about elements of music: melody and rhythm, harmony and form. Songs are chosen from the many cultures represented in the United States, as well as from different eras of history.Singing informs each of the other areas of musical development
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
Kodály students sing while learning to play a musical instrument. Instruments are used throughout Kodály training to extend students’ practice and performance of music. In early training rhythm instruments are used to develop beat and rhythm awareness. Xylophones, and other tonal instruments are also introduced in pre-school and kindergarten. Recorder is often begun in 3rd or 4th grade so that all students can transfer melodic learning to an instrument. In the beginning stages, instrumental repertoire is intertwined with vocal repertoire. Students might sing a song first with words, next with solfège from the staff, and then with letter names. Finally, they play it on their instruments. As students become proficient, they actually hear the melody in their heads, allowing them to play directly both known and new repertoire.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music with specific guidelines.
Kodály students sing to improvise and compose. They know hundreds of songs thoroughly, having sung and analyzed them. This body of song provides parameters for improvisation. Therefore, when a student improvises a melody, it is more likely to be musically inspired, rather than mechanically or physically inspired. Improvisation becomes more thoughtful and less a product of chance. Composing is the ultimate test of students’ learning. IN order to compose students must be proficient in both reading and writing. Kodály-trained students do not need to sit down with an instrument and search for notes when they compose. They have learned to hear music in their head, then write it down, just as they have learned to think language and write it.
5. Reading and Writing Music
Kodály students sing to learn how to read and write music. Solfège is introduced in early training, before letter names. Rhythm syllables are also used to enable children to read rhythms more musically and accurately. The reading and writing curricula are carefully sequenced in accordance with how children learn. As each new melodic or rhythmic element is introduced, it is defined aurally in relation to what students already know, then integrated with previous learning through a variety of reading and writing activities. Sequential sight singing instruction, utilizing inner hearing, develops the students ability to read at the highest level. The ability to hear ahead of the eye and to produce sound independently is present in the best vocal and instrumental musicians.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performance.
Kodály students sing as part of listening activities. In listening, they apply their growing understanding of musical language within different styles and genres of music. In a Kodály classroom, the music chosen contains elements with which students are familiar. Singing and reading activities frequently precede the listening to prepare students to understand what they will hear. When analyzing and describing a piece of music to which they have listened, students are able to distinguish its formal characteristics and can describe how the parts are related. When appropriate, different recordings of the same piece are presented so that the students can compare and contrast performances. This builds greater focus and discrimination, assets in analyzing their own performances as well as those to which they listen.
8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
Kodály students sing songs from many cultures and eras. Song, which combines music, language, and culture, is an excellent tool for exploring relationships among the arts. In early learning, the relationship between music and culture is primarily textual, i.e., the text of a song will lead to exploration of the history and culture from which it arose. Similarly, songs from a particular region or time enhance the study of history because they are actual carriers of he language and culture. As students develop competence in reading and analyzing music, they can discover, through performance, the characteristics of a particular style of music. These can then be related to similar characteristics in other art forms from that culture, as well as to the more general ideas which have shaped it. Any style of music, whether Western art music, jazz, blue-grass, or world music, can serve as a basis for comparing musical style and culture.
For a more detailed description, and to print out specific benchmarks in relation to the national standards, please visit the website of the Organization of American Kodály Educators.