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A Brief History of Kindermusik

The roots of Kindermusik, which means “children’s music,” can be traced to the late 1960s in the former West Germany. It was there that Daniel Pratt, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Kindermusik International, discovered this extraordinary early childhood music education program that was published and taught by independent music educators. Dan realized that Kindermusik could bring the highest-quality musical learning experience to young children and families through the hands and hearts of music educators and early childhood educators all over the world.

By the early 1970s, the program was translated into English, brought across the ocean and adapted for American families. Pratt, who was then a college administrator and faculty member at Westminster Choir College, began providing educator training opportunities for music professionals in the United States. What began as an office on his back porch has expanded into the current facilities located in North Carolina. Dan’s diligence and poetic involvement have made his dream a reality.

Pedagogical Roots

Kindermusik can chart its family tree back through several classic early-learning music methods. It combines the pedagogy of Zoltan Kodaly, Carl OrffEmile Jaques-Dalcroze, and the Suzuki Method with the most current research into early childhood development, cognitive processes and the structure and function of the brain.

All of these early methods incorporated both music and movement into the learning process; they recognized the tremendous power of combining these two modalities into a unified system. In a sense, these were the original “music and movement” programs. Other European educational models -  particularly the well-known Waldorf  teaching method - incorporated and greatly expanded upon these foundational systems.

One particular facet of these early-learning music methods serves as a common denominator between all of them. These systems all hold that, to one degree or another, early training in music serves to build the child’s mental, emotional, and even spiritual character. The benefits that a child gains from musical exposure at a young age extend far into her future. They impact every facet of his later life. What today are rhythm and melody and harmony manifest tomorrow as poise, confidence, enhanced reasoning ability, the ability to make fine distinctions between details, and a greater sense of life-balance.

Kindermusik’s methodologies spring from deep roots that were planted by some of the most insightful and innovative eductators of the past century. We are fortunate to share in their legacy at every Kindermusik class.

Curwen’s Hand Signs. This depiction indicates tonal tendencies and fascinating labels for each pitch.

Kodaly Method

Zoltan Kodaly (1882-1967) was a prominent Hungarian music educator and composer who stressed the benefits of physical instruction and response to music. Although not really an educational method, his teachings reside within a fun, educational framework built on a solid grasp of basic music theory and music notation in various verbal and written forms. Kodaly's primary goal was to instill a lifelong love of music in his students and felt that it was the duty of the child's school to provide this vital element of education. Some of Koday's trademark teaching methods include the use of solfege hand signs, musical shorthand notation (stick notation), and rhythm solmization (verbalization).1

Orff Schulwerk

Carl Orff was a prominent German composer. The Orff Schulwerk is considered an "approach" to music education. It begins with a student's innate abilities to engage in rudimentary forms of music, using basic rhythms and melodies. Orff considers the whole body a percussive instrument and students are led to develop their music abilities in a way that parallels the development of western music. The approach encourages improvisation and discourages adult pressures and mechanical drill, fostering student self-discovery. Carl Orff developed a special group of instruments, including modifications of the glockenspiel, xylophone, metallophone, drum, and other percussion instruments to accommodate the requirements of the Schulwerk courses.2


Dalcroze Method

The Dalcroze method was developed in the early 1900s by Swiss musician and educator Emile Jaques-Dalcroze. The method is divided into three fundamental concepts - the use of solfege, improvisation, and eurhythmics. Sometimes referred to as "rhythmic gymnastics", eurhythmics teaches concepts of rhythm, structure, and musical expression using movement, and is the concept for which Dalcroze is best known. It focuses on allowing the student to gain physical awareness and experience of music through training that takes place through all of the senses, particularly kinesthetic. According to the Dalcroze method, music is the fundamental language of the human brain and therefore deeply connected to what human beings are.3

Suzuki Method

The Suzuki method was developed by Shinichi Suzuki in Japan shortly after World War II, and it uses music education to enrich the lives and moral character of its students. The movement rests on the double premise that "all children can be well educated" in music, and that learning to play music at a high level also involves learning certain character traits or virtues which make a person's soul more beautiful. The primary method for achieving this is centered around creating the same environment for learning music that a person has for learning their native language. This 'ideal' environment includes love, high-quality examples, praise, rote training and repetition, and a time-table set by the student's developmental readiness for learning a particular technique.4

Click here to read an inspiring quote from Dr. Suzuki.

1234 Source: Wikipedia

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