Conclusions and Recommendations


The musical repertoire presented in this paper is only the first stage of the research in progress. The database with the song analysis, which has about seventy entries at the moment, has to grow further before working out the songs in a sequenced order to build a curriculum. But already in this stage it is possible to conclude that a Kodály-curriculum could be built upon repertoire which is suitable for the children in the Dutch elementary school culture. Of course our situation here is very different from the one in Hungary. There, the huge amount of collected and documented folk songs have been a fundament for a whole music education. Here, we do not have such a documented collection, and we have to be creative to find song material. Also we have a very pluralistic society where many different cultures come together, especially in the larger cities. So this also requires a certain variety in repertoire. Finding suitable repertoire is an attitude which every music teacher should have. That's why the music teacher has a central role here. A didactical view on repertoire and the necessary analysis skills to understand the musical content and potential of a song for the curriculum is of major importance. In my opinion, every music teacher training should involve these two aspects in their programme.

I would like to give an example of sequencing repertoire to build a curriculum.

Concerning rhythmical learning, there are congruent patterns in both songs. "Wip wap" shows ta-ta and tadi-ta. Both patterns are doubled in the other song. What is is learned in one song can be recognized and extended in the other song. The "Snowman"-song is actually a rhythmical practice for the "Wip wap"-song. The other, longer pattern tadi-tadi-tadi-ta is a textual unity and can not be seperated. This is the case in both songs. So again aural recognition can be applied. Interestingly, after a lot of practice of rhythm patterns with "Sneeuwman" there is also an element of presentation: the last two bars offer the rhythm pattern tadi-tadi-ta-(ta) where the rest is introduced. It is of highest importance - while learning the song in the preparation phase - to add a physical element to the rest to feel the rest. That could be a handclap or a gesture of grabbing someone ("pak me dan" = so grab me). As we can see the sequence of these two songs in a presentation and practice-phase would make that also presentation is involved and the three elements of musical teaching are interlocked. A smooth mixture of the three P's in a lesson sequence with suitable repertoire would evoke continuous musical learning and would develop musical skills on the longer term.

So the database could be used to organize repertoire according to musical content to sequence the songs for a curriculum. In the example this could lead to a rhythmical curriculum. After steady beat, different types of beats and different types rhythms were performed, played, moved, etc. - also in a polyphonic way like walking the beat and clapping the rhythm, etc. - the presentation could be sequenced. So first the students consciously distinguish ta en tadi in different rhythm patterns, beginning with ta-ta, tadi-tadi-, tadi-ta en ta-tadi. These are combined to larger patterns. So we need to find repertoire for all these patterns. Here the database helps because we can sort it by pattern type, and group songs according to the intended curriculum.

In the same way we could work out the melodic elements. "Wip wap" is a so-mi-song. The first two bars of "Sneeuwman" have the same two tones, even in the same rhythm pattern. So we could use this song as a practice song to recognize the melodic patterns learned with "Wip Wap". Again, it is a prerequisite to have incorporated both song completely before using them for the presentation of the melodic content.

The prerequisites of Music Education in Elementary School

The experience at the Leeuwerikhoeve taught me many things that are necessary as prerequisites for quality music education in elementary school.

1) Once a week music lesson in insufficient. It seems impossible to develop musical skills in a weekly lesson, just because repeating and training is too short. At least twice a week a music lesson should be scheduled.

2) Little blocks of 12 lessons are too short. Not only the classroom dynamics and the teacher-student relationship can not be sufficiently established, also the effect on the long term is too small. Music should be part of the school curriculum from group 1 to 8 in a continuous and well-developed music curriculum with learning goals, learning strands and well-chosen repertoire. In a word: continuity and congruence. Constant practice of what is learned and the application of this to new situations should be the aim.

3) There must be enough space for physical movement, also in the higher grades. All music lesson should be given in a gym-hall or at least a room with plenty of space without having to rearrange tables and chairs. Large benches at the sides would be fine to sit from time to time. At least a stereo-installation should be there for folk dancing and for listening activities, with or without movement.

4) High quality musical instruments should be at hand, percussion instruments in the first place, but also Orff-instruments.

5) A black-, white and a digital board should be available.

6) The music lessons should be scheduled in the regular school times, not after school time.

7) Generalist teachers should attend the lessons and continue singing songs, for example as a greeting in the morning or as a final activity to close the day.

8) Parents should be able to download songs from the school's website to sing some of the songs at home with their children. Music workshops for parents could be given.

9) A school choir should be founded where the children can apply what they have learnt in the music lessons. Also they can experience musical repertoire from different periods of music history and in different musical styles. The choir should be actively participating in the school's year plan, like opening and closing of the school year, Christmas, waving out Group 8 at the end of the year, etc.

10) A collaboration with a local music school should be established for children who would like to learn an instrument. Regular performances in the school could attract more children to play.

11) Only highly skilled and well-educated music teachers should be allowed to give music lessons in Dutch elementary schools.

12) There should be a separate teacher training education for elementary school level, lasting four years (bachelor). In the current teacher training the students are prepared for all school types.

Some years ago I mentioned in a discussion that every Dutch elementary school that respects itself should run a well-sounding school choir. Actually, my idea has not changed. If children could experience musical repertoire by quality singing, sight-singing and moving/dancing before they are 13 years old, this will last for a lifetime.

Not all of these children will become professional musicians. But cultural awareness and having acces to music as an art form in its full variation is a right that every human has. School may not limit people, it should enlarge one's possibilities for the future. And singing music should be a big part of it.

How would it be if children in a classroom could read from stick notation as say the rhythm accurately in rhythm language?

How would it be if children in a classroom could aurally distinguish different tones and sing them back on solfa-syllables with hand signs?

How would it be if elementary school children would be able to sight-read melodies?

And how would it be if in a music lesson in group 8 the children could reach the level to sing a 3-part motet a cappella?