Jolly Music

If you would like some further resources to help you use the Kodály Approach with your students then I can highly recommend Jolly Music Handbook for Beginners by Cyrilla Rowsell and David Vinden

This book is a comprehensive classroom scheme for Early Years and KS1 classes to teach singing and musicianship using the Kodály Approach. I’ve also used it to good effect with pre-schoolers and on a one to one basis with my piano students. It was an invaluable resource while I was developing DoReMi Piano.

Many of the songs in this book are also contained in “Songs for Singing & Musicianship Training” by David Vinden and Yuko Vinden. This is an excellent reference book for the Kodály Approach and solfa, and has lots of songs in it slowly increasing in complexity. However with Jolly Music the songs have been made into a full scheme of work with detailed lesson plans and audio CDs. You can also buy a Big Book to go with it. I love it and so do my children.

If you’re new to the Kodály Approach and want to learn yourself then it’s not the best resource since each book only covers a small amount of content. However it’s great for identifying creative ways to be repetitive with the skills and information. You could use it without a deeper understanding, or gain your personal understanding elsewhere and then use it to help your teaching.

Have you used Jolly Music? Or perhaps another Early Years scheme. Why not share thoughts below?

Understanding Pulse

For many years now I have sung songs with my students to help them learn various elements of musicianship. One of the first songs we sing helps them understand pulse. This song is the two pitch song Cobbler Cobbler. The children pretend to hold a shoe in one hand and a hammer in the other. They bang their fist in time with the pulse of the song. We then hold the hammer in the air; place the “shoe” on the ground; swap the hammer into the other hand; and pick up the shoe again. We can then repeat the song using the other hand.

They love it! We can use it to explore tempo as sometimes the cobbler is very tired and goes slowly, or he might be running late and need to go fast. Of course the children go so fast that their steady pulse goes out of the window! But they’re having fun and we can tone it down and discuss the different tempos still have a “steady beat”. We can also march around the room to this song or play a simple pat-a-cake game. All great ways of feeling the concept of the steady beat.

Sometimes I use the terms pulse and steady beat interchangeably. We talk about our own heartbeats and I make the children laugh by tapping out a random jazzy “heartbeat” and shout “Quick, call an ambulance!!” A healthy heartbeat is nice and steady and our songs need a healthy heartbeat too. Explaining that the doctors can feel your heartbeat by finding your pulse brings in the term pulse quite nicely. They can rarely find their own pulse so we often have to “call an ambulance” for them too! They find this hilarious!

We can tap the pulse all over the place! On the piano lid, on our knees, on our noses, nod our heads. Anything we can think of. Especially anything they can think of! The more ideas and repetition the better. One of my students wanted to tap his eye – not sure about that!! I suggested eyebrow and he seemed happy enough!

I had one student who found tapping a steady pulse almost impossible. We tried everything from marching around in my garden to nodding heads. One day, almost by chance, I asked her to try tapping fingertips on her chest but keeping the heel of her hand fixed to her body! Hooray! She still can’t clap or march but she can make that very small movement needed to understand the pulse.

The Kodály Approach

All of the activities in DoReMi Piano are beneficial to students of any instrument. They are based on the Kodály Approach, used internationally to teach musicianship to pre-instrumentalists. In the United Kingdom, where Kodály is not commonly used in primary schools, many instrumental teachers use the approach with their students.

If you would like to learn more about this approach to music education then I would advise contacting the British Kodály Academy. They run excellent courses for musicians and music teachers. See their website at http://kodaly.org.uk

Brand New Piano Method

Welcome to the brand new website for the brand new piano method DoReMi Piano by Helen Russell.

DoReMi Piano is a collection of songs, plus some original compositions, newly arranged by Helen Russell for the young beginner pianist.

A Kodály Approach enthusiast, Helen has published the approach she has found to be so successful in her piano studio. Prior training in Kodály is not required, as there is a comprehensive teacher guide available.