Teaching Music Reading and Language Arts Reading: A Comparison of the Kodály-Inspired and Direct

November 11, 2010 / By: Joanne M. Cahill

The purpose of this study was to determine the similarities and differences between the Kodály-inspired approach to music reading and the Direct Instruction approach to language reading.  Three theoretical questions were investigated:  what are the philosophical, pedagogical, and instructional principles of the Kodály-inspired approach and the Direct Instruction approach; what are the philosophical, pedagogical, and instructional similarities and dissimilarities between the two approaches, and how might the comparative similarities and shared pedagogy between Kodály-inspiredteachers and Direct Instruction teachers create cohesion and support collaboration? 

The nature of philosophical, pedagogical, and instructional principles were defined and used as a framework to investigate the specific principles of each methodology.  Six philosophical principles of the Kodály-inspired approach and the Direct Instruction approach were discussed.  Common philosophical principles include: literacy for all; instruction must begin with the very young; the voice (singing or speaking) is the foundation for musical or language development, and highly trained teachers with a thorough knowledge of the material are the primary decision-makers in the classroom.  In both approaches, pedagogical principles are based on a child developmental model and follow a teaching sequence of preparing, presenting, practicing, and creating. 

Four similar instructional principles in both approaches include:  meaningful learning takes place when the students are actively involved; specific student objectives are formulated as tasks that can be measured by the teacher and serve as a basis for the program; all learning moves from the concrete to the abstract; and each classroom must be a socially safe environment.

Though there were some differences between the two approaches such as the size and make up of student grouping, assessment strategies, and the presence or absence of a scripted lesson; there were common principles that were complementary to both.  Some of the implications surfacing from this study include: the importance of collaboration and communication among teachers in all content areas; the need for educators to be mindful of the vocabulary they use in the classroom and question the students often for possible misinterpretation; and finally, the value in any program lies in the effort, understanding, planning, and love put into it by the educator.