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Kodaly vs. Choral Conducting Master's

Hello all!
I've recently moved to the greater D.C. area and am looking to start a summer master's program in 2013 or 2014.  I am a general music teacher and I've also had 4 years of church music experience.  My career goals are a little fuzzy - I'd really love to work with a higher level children's choir but haven't had much opportunity for that yet.  Currently, I'm enjoying teaching general music classes (I just finished my first classroom year) and private piano lessons.
My main question is - should I be looking into a Choral Conducting degree, or a Kodaly certification?  I haven't really considered Dalcroze or Orff because they seem to be more limited to simply classroom application, and I'm thinking I might get back into church music or try to find community choir work.  I am also not interested in a Master's in Music Ed because my undergrad is in Music Ed.
I have conducted church choir festivals with groups of up to 200 people in front of me, and LOVED it - so I'm not certain that I want to limit myself to only children's music education, either, even though elementary and middle school is easily my favorite age to teach.  That said, most of the successful children's choir directors that I've met seem to have Kodaly certificates, and it seems like a really good program to strengthen my vocal teaching and rehearsal technique.
I'd appreciate any insight you could give me into this process of continuing ed!
Rebecca Maurer
Replies (15): Threaded | Chronological
on August 2, 2012 8:04am
Dear Rebecca--
I founded and directed a community children's choir for many years, but also taught and continue to teach elementary general music.  The Kodaly training is transformative for your approach to teaching music literacy in both the classroom and a choral setting.  There is also a conducting component in the Kodaly Certification process.  Kodaly music education is singing based whereas Orff is more about instruments and improvisation.  Dalcroze fits in nicely with either.  Kodaly provides you with a sequence of teaching music literacy concepts that WORKS, drawing the concepts out of folk song material that is selected based on the age of the child.  Singing/listening comes first.  You will learn a great repertoire of songs, singing games, etc from which the concepts are drawn.  I did not actually become Kodaly Certified, but did all three levels of pedagogy and solfege.  It totally changed my teaching, making me a better and more successful teacher.  For you, just starting out, certification might be a good goal, but you would know after taking a level one course.
I also highly recommend looking into Henry Leck's summer program for children's choir directors, "Creating Artistry".  Henry is a wonderful teacher and his program includes conducting and Dalcroze, with the Indiana Children's Chorus in residence.  The Choral Music Experience Institute founded by Doreen Rao is also an excellent summer program.  The home base is near Chicago, but look also for this program given elsewhere with Janet Galvan or Cheryl Dupont.
Best wishes,
Eloise Porter
Los Angeles Unified Schools
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on August 2, 2012 10:26am
Hi Rebecca,
Early in my teaching career I took the Kodaly based Education Through Music with Mary Helen Richards.  Mary Helen studied with Kodaly and with his blessing, created a teaching format that takes into account our North American folk music and more triplet based language as opposed to the duple format of the original Hungarian.  It truly transformed my understanding of music especially for teaching.  I am in Canada and was very blessed to have been a part of some of the first Education Through Music courses.  They are taught all over the U.S. and Canada.
Do check it out.  I have directed musicals with semi-professional musicians and many young choirs.  I now have an adult community choir and I still use my skills learned so many years ago.  
Kitty Babcock
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on August 2, 2012 4:47pm
Hello Rebecca!  I am Elmer Bueno from the Philippines and I have been a Music teacher in our school for the past 14 yrs. I finished Kodaly Methodology in Teaching Music for three consecutive summers and I found it very useful in my teaching not only for my students but also for my community and church choirs as well.  Although my experience with Kodaly method is based on the Philippine music setting, it really helped me a lot in dealing with different types of music and in motivating my students and choir members to learn deeper and to be more critical in studying music.  I believe that being a conductor you must be able to share with your choir members every small detail that a music score contain, from the simplest rhythmic pattern to the more complicated ones, the melodic patterns and scale used and the proper singing of each melodic lines with the harmony, etc.  Kodaly has helped me a lot in improving my conducting techniques and my musicality in general.  We also tried Dalcroze and Orff in one of the levels in Kodaly and I guess you are right to say that these methods are only limited to classroom application -- but it's fun.
I suggest that you continue updating yourself being a musician and a conductor in whatever method you find applicable to you and your students and/or community.  I wish you all the best in your endeavor and God bless you.
on August 3, 2012 8:37am
You must envision your idea job:    Workinig with children's voices, or college/adult voices.
Masters in Choral Conducting is to prepare for small college teaching and adult choirs, and will give you experience with SATB literature for college and adults, and of course, conducting technique usually in two courses for initial and then advanced conducting.
Kodaly will focus on children's voices, children's literature, ear training and sight singing and developing musianship.  You CAN add both levels of choral conducting class with permission, which will give you the conducting technique you would need for those other occasions at church and special festivals.
Decide which degree, by which jobs you want when it's finished.
Good Luck!  Smart question!
on August 6, 2012 8:51am
Jolyne seems to intimate that you must limit your scope and then train only on what will give you that end.  I respectfully submit that you can never learn enough in all areas.  What I learned as an elementary school music teacher has served me well with college and university students, private students and adult choirs as well as children.  Every ideology has a part that can be applied to anything you choose to do.  No training is wasted.
I took music appreciation courses at university.  It taught me a deeper understanding of the gestalt while appreciating how each individual sound became important.  I learned to listen much more effectively and thus am a better choir director because I can hear beyond the united sound. 
I would suggest that whatever piques an interest in you and gets your mojo humming is what you should pursue.  That may lead to the next area you want to study.  None of us knows just where we will end up.  
Please don't over think a choice.  Trust your "gut".  If you see yourself as a director and want to learn more about the unique skills and abilities that constitute that job, then study away.  Take suggestions under advisement and then trust yourself in the end.  We can suggest and share our experiences but in the end you know best what you need at any given time.  Honour your feelings and go with what is best for you.  
on August 6, 2012 6:42pm
I have my Kodaly I and II certificates and I'm seriously thinking about finishing III and IV. I think There might be some settings in some of the larger schools where you could be doing graduate level work in choral techniques and Kodaly certification levels simultaneously. 
It is my belief that Kodaly techniques and methods may be adapted by creative conductors to benefit teenagers and adults in choral music settings, and I think it would be exciting to work on the skills for both at the same time as part of your ultimate academic goals.
I think Kitty and I are definitely thinking along the same lines, but as you can see, all of us who have learned and used Kodaly techniques believe in the power of the approach to extend and deepen one's musical life.
You have some wonderful and empowering decision making ahead! Look forward to doing what you love and loving what you're doing!
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on August 9, 2012 4:07am
Thanks for your replies, everyone!  I LOVE this site because as a music educator I often feel very isolated from my colleagues, but I know that here I can be connected.  I think I probably will go for at least Kodaly I to see what it's like - and I'll probably look into choral conducting programs, as well, since that really is one of the highlights of music for me.  My blessing and problem is that I'm often happy right where I'm planted, so it's hard for me to figure out what my ultimate goals are.  Thank you all for your insight.
on August 10, 2012 3:35am
Rebecca - Should you decide to pursue the advanced degree work in choral conducting in the DC area (not knowing exactly where you'll be), check into George Mason University in Fairfax, VA or the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.  I have some connection to the first and have run into a number of graduates of the second program as well, and both seem to be producing some very fine musicians at all levels.  You may want to also look into Catholic University's programs, about which I'm less familiar - but they do have a long history of connection to music (especially sacred music).
On a different level, this IS a cool place, isn't it?  Lively discussions, answers to questions, connection to people "in the field" who've been there, done that, gotten the scars AND the T-shirt...!!!  It's great.
on August 17, 2012 11:34am
I agree with Kitty and Ann.  I think thay are right in there thinking about training.  I am a HS director and I use Kodaly a lot (maybe more on a daily basis than conducting skills).  I also think that either degree will give you valuable knowledge and skills in order to be successful with a variety of ensembles.  I also think it is important to do our own research and due diligence no matter what type of ensembles that we are in front of.  My wife works in elementary school music, and she has a choir at her school.  When she was starting it she asked me for help with literature and other ideas, I turned to my choral texts, choralnet, friends in childrens music, etc.  It is always a good idea to be maintaing and expanding our base of knoweldge.
You started out your post stating that you were "looking to start a summer master's program in 2013 or 2014".  I have been looking at the same thing for a couple of years.  I have a MAEd, but was wanting to pursue a Master's in Music - Conducting as well.
I have found no summer MM Conducting programs.  There are several Summer MM Music Ed. programs   A few of those have a fair amount of conducting.
Look at:  East Carolina University
                 Appalachian State University (I like this on 4 six week sessions - MM Music Ed. with Emphasis in Choral Conducting)
                Auburn - Has two weekends of conducting live enesembles as a part of their classes in the summer.  Although most of this program is online and the degree is a MA Ed Music Ed.
                Austin Peay - (3 summers, I am going to enroll in this program next summer)
If you do find a Summer MM Conducting program please share!
Good Luck!
on August 17, 2012 1:17pm


I just completed my Master in Choral Conducting at Lynchburg College (Lynchburg, VA) after 4 summers of study. Their program is a Master in Choral Conducting (not Music Ed) and can be completed in four summers or three summers and one academic year.

I hope this helps



on August 20, 2012 5:22am
Colorado State University has a great program. MM in Conducting, some online and summer's onsite.
Very useful and you must be teaching while taking it.
on August 18, 2012 5:39am
Wow.  I have seached programs for the last two years and never found this.  Awesome.  And it is closer than any of the other schools to me.  I will be investigating right away.  Thank you so much!
Jason Whitson
on August 18, 2012 6:39am
FWIW, Rebecca, my wife conducts a church children's choir that incorporates a lot of Orff, with the instruments and the whole nine yards.  It's successful and has been sustained for a number of years.  I know that's not the thrust of your question, but I thought I'd just add that to the discussion.
on August 19, 2012 6:03am
I've taken all your input and done a little research myself.  Thank you, Eloise, for pointing out that Kodaly training actually includes some conducting - I hadn't realized that before.  I've found a four-summer master's program at Loyola University in Baltimore, which is only a little over an hour from where I live and seems to offer everything I'm looking for.  Has anyone heard anything about this program, or known anyone who went through it?
The price is reasonable, which I appreciate; I think I can cover the cost by teaching piano lessons after school.  I don't know if that interests you at all, Jason; I know it's probably a good distance away from you if you're close to Lynchburg!
Thanks again, everyone, for helping me through this search!
on August 20, 2012 9:15am
Hello Rebecca,
I have been where you are in your career.  After finishing my undergrad degree (B. S. in music education) I felt the need to earn a master's that really was an applied music degree.  I worked on a M.M in choral conducing while staring my public school teaching career, working at the elementary school level.  When I finished my degree I thought it would be a good idea to do some of the pedagogical training that some of my colleagues had completed or were working to finish.  Since I am primarily a vocalist, I thought Kodaly training would be the best thing for me to pursue.  I went on to do that along with other training as well.  I really believe that it's a good idea to do both Kodaly and choral conducting training.  If you like you can contact me in a private message and I can give you some suggestions on pursuring further study.  I see that we live in the same metropolitan area, so I can let you know about some of the programs and options that are available locally.  Good luck in making your decisions.
Donald Snyder, Silver Spring, MD
B.S. Music Education, Univ. of Indianapolis
M.M. Choral Conducting, Univ. of Houston
DMA fellow, Music Education, Shenadoah Univ.
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