A comprehensive music education begins early, in childhood. A music education must consist of not only repertoire knowledge, but theory, composition, history, and people. Professor Zoltan Kodaly, a Hungarian composer and teacher in the early 1900s, found that young Hungarian children were unaware of how to read and write music fluently, and also unaware of their musical heritage (Chosky, 1999). To know Hungary now, one would not know that this was the case in the 1900s. Hungary lives and breathes music. Currently, Hungary has 800 adult choruses, and numerous professional orchestras (Chosky, 1999). Hungary is a country about the size of Indiana (Chosky, 1999), so music penetrates the country. Kodaly introduced a method, the Kodaly Method, which systematically teachers children, or beginning adults, music. The learning is based in folk music, of one country of origin, and uses the music to teach theory, composition, and history (Chosky, 1999). This method has infiltrated the world with it's easy to understand concepts and time lines.
In the United States music is taught in most schools. However, as funding and music teachers have become unavailable, music programs have been cut. This lack of education in the public school system leaves music education up to the parents, which unfortunately many parents do not have the knowledge or tools (instruments and music) to teach their children appropriately, let alone fluently. In Hungary children obtain an eight year program devoted specifically to music which is separate from the children's regular studies (Chosky, 1999). In North America, schools have music once, or maybe twice per week, if at all. Although music programs in North America are not as intense as other countries, a comprehensive teaching method, such as the Kodaly Method, enables children to receive the basic skills of music literacy.
Jerome Hines in his book "Great Singers on Great Singing" notes that many individuals misconceive the brilliance of [musicians]. These individuals seem to think that [musicians] do not have to be very bright; they just do music (Hines, 1982, 2006). Hines (1982, 2006) writes of his interview experiences with famous singers and states that through his interviews; found that [musiciansians] are intelligent as a whole. Another misconception that many individuals have is that musical education is not important. Music education is very diverse and can educate individuals in many areas. Specifically the piano requires that individuals learn rhythm, notes, and style. These three things require math skills, reading skills, and historical knowledge. The same can be said of other instruments and the voice. Although not all individuals will be able to master or even play basically an instrument or sing, one can learn the basics of music and increase their knowledge of culture, math, and history. This appreciation in turn helps individuals increase their understanding of people and can increase positive social change.
To ensure that children receive a comprehensive music education, a few steps must take place. First, research your child's music program in the school. Does a music program exist? If not, what is the child's teacher doing in its place? Most teachers took music education classes when receiving their degree, so most know the importance of music and the essential skills it can teach children. Second, enroll your child in music lessons of some kind. Many piano teachers will take children as young as 6 years old. This is a prime way to introduce children to practice skills, accuracy and dexterity, varieties of music form and style, and even creativity. And lastly, show your child that music skills are important by attending concerts and recitals, showing excitement and support of their music interest, or even taking classes yourself. These steps, enhanced with parent support, will ensure that children will gain important life skills and an appreciation of music.
Chosky, L. (1999). The Kodaly Method I: Comprehensive music education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Hines, J. (1982, 2006). Great singers on great singing. Pompton Plains, NJ: Limelight Editions.