The American Kodály Educator as Song Collector: Zoltán Kodály’s Beliefs on Folksongs...

December 5, 2012 / By: Elizabeth Johnson Camozzi

Folk music is a staple in the Kodály method of music education. Teaching music in the children’s mother tongue leads to fluent music literacy and a love of making music. The definition of American folk music in the twenty-first century is not clear due to the history of various cultures that contribute to its national identity, current trends in mainstream America and the effect of the countless resources on the genre. This research examines the debate of what a folksong is, the factors affecting the definition, and how it can be defined in the twenty-first century. Studies supporting Kodály-inspired teaching and song collecting are examined, including the works of Dr. Rita Klinger, Dr. Jill Trinka, Dr. Michael Francis Scully and others who have contributed to American folksong research.  American Kodály-inspired educators are encouraged to seek folk material in their communities by reaching out and cultivating relationships with their community members. Suggestions such as Ruth Crawford Seeger’s sing-alongs and Dr. Kari Veblen’s thoughts on collecting music on the playground and in the community are considered. Appendices include interviews with twenty-first century song collectors and ethnomusicologists, a library of folk material for the twenty-first century American folksong collector and a list of information to gather while collecting folksongs. The research concludes with a call for present music educators to collect the songs that abound in our communities in an effort to contribute toward the American musical and historical tapestry.