When asked about the ways in which their child is taught music, most parents will not have an answer however there are many ways in which music can be taught. We call these music pedagogies. Aside from the violinist and occasional pianist, most music students will not be able to label any music education techniques or pedagogies, but there are several different ways in which music can be taught, for example the Balinese gamelan teacher will teach purely by imitation where as the western art music teacher will teach a combination of playing, reading and music theory. So how do you decide what method is best for your own learning or the teaching of your child? This article gives a basic run down of four of the main music pedagogies used in the western world. When deciding what is best for you or your child you need to base your decision on the individual's personality and the ways in which they learn in other settings.
The Kodaly method was developed by a Hungarian educator and composer in response the poor music education of children in his home country. He believed that music should be accessible to all people and in response to this he developed his method based on the notion that everyone has a voice. He believed very strongly that people should begin learning music of their own country and therefore developed his pedagogy based on Hungarian folk songs. Through the progression of these folk songs children learn the musical skills, concepts and music literacy through practical exercises. Kodaly believed that the use of the voice eliminated the technical problems associated with learning an instrument and developed the musical ear.
Emile Jaques-Dalcroze developed his method after observing a student with rhythm difficulties, leaving class one day walking in perfect time with the person he was with. Dalcrozr then realized that to learn rhythm it envolved the whole of a person and therefore could not be taught sitting behind desks in a room. His method focuses on the use of movement to explore time, space, energy, weight and balance. Through different movement exercises the students learn difficult musical concepts before learning the theory. As they progress the musical concepts become more complex. The method also uses the study of pitch through different vocal exercises and has a large focus on improvisation at the later stages.
The Orff-Schulwerk method was also developed to be all inclusive in music education and is commonly used in school settings. It is largely based on imitation, echo and the use of repeated patterns or ostinatos. It is very much focused on group work and ensemble skills however there are many opportunities for students to improvise. The method uses singing, dancing, body percussion and some instruments. The method is largely known for it's use of instruments such as the glockenspiel, xylophones and metallophones, these instruments developing for use by the creators of this method.
In a number of music studios, teachers use a combination of techniques from each of these pedagogies, however, there are some schools that will lean more towards one and there are some schools that will focus purely on one of the methods. It is important to ask lots of questions as to whether the method that the school uses is right for you or your child and be willing to try different styles if need be.