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Delivering Music Education Training for Non-Specialist Teachers through Effective Partnership: A Kodály-Inspired Intervention to Improve Young Children’s Development Outcomes

School of Education, Durham University, Durham DH1 1TA, UK
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Gary McPherson
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11(8), 433;
Received: 28 June 2021 / Revised: 6 August 2021 / Accepted: 9 August 2021 / Published: 16 August 2021


A priority area identified by the Department of Education (England) and the Economic Social and Research Council is the development of teachers, especially in primary music education where the limited opportunities for training offered by teacher training providers have raised concerns. This paper reports on an evaluation of a collaborative partnership training of non-specialist teachers, using a Kodály-inspired pedagogy to teach music in a classroom setting. Participants included 54 teachers (and 1492 pupils, aged 5–6), selected from 55 schools, as part of a large randomised control trial (RCT) in the north of England. This paper presents findings from a qualitative study that was conducted alongside the RCT, but which was not part of the RCT itself or the RCT’s implementation and process evaluation. Results from the study, which include a pre-post survey of teachers, focus group interviews and reflective journals, suggest promising effects on teachers’ pedagogical skills, their self-efficacy and competence, and children’s self-confidence and disposition for learning.
Keywords: music education; Kodály approach; teacher professional development; partnership; music hubs; workplace mentoring; close to practice research music education; Kodály approach; teacher professional development; partnership; music hubs; workplace mentoring; close to practice research

1. Introduction

Increasing concerns about the declining numbers of students taking music in school in the UK have led many to call for arts and music to be given priority in schools because of the purported benefits, such as improved self-confidence, behavioural and social skills and academic attainment (e.g., [1] Schellenberg 2004; [2] DfE 2011; [3] Linnavalli et al., 2018; [4] Hallam 2015; [5] Hanson 2003). The 2019 Music Education: State of the Nation report recommended that the “government should encourage all schools to embed a culture of singing via classroom teaching”. [6] (p. 19) This is especially so with the current need to address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with increasing calls for arts and music to be made available to mitigate the effects of isolation and aid the recovery programme [7] (Education Endowment Foundation [EEF] 2021).
The introduction of the National Curriculum and the 1988 Education Reform Act in UK has made it compulsory for music to be taught in schools. This has put a huge demand on generalist teachers, who are now expected to teach music, many of whom have no prior knowledge of music nor the confidence to do so. Because of the lack of specialist teachers in primary schools, the role of non-specialist teachers has become even more important ([8] DfE 1988; [9] Hallam et al., 2009). Some have argued that music is best taught by the class teacher as it helps children to appreciate music as part of the curriculum ([10] Mills 1989). In England, there have been concerns that primary teachers teachers do not necessarily have the skills to teach what is required of the National Curriculum. [9] Hallam et al.’s (2009) survey of primary teacher trainees shows that only half said they were confident in teaching music and suggested that more time should be devoted to training to prepare them for the curriculum. With the publication of the new Model Music Curriculum [11] (Department for Education [DfE] 2021), the aim of which is to ensure a universal provision of music education for all pupils, there is a pressing need to find ways to train teachers to prepare them for the new curriculum so that they can be confident in incorporating music into their core practice.
The Henley Report [2] [DfE] 2011 (p. 7), has identified inadequate teacher training, patchy delivery, and lack of government support and funding as key barriers to effective delivery of the music curriculum in England. A report on “Understanding and Developing Creativity in Early Years Settings” [12] (Pascal. C et al., 2005) also stressed “the continuing emphasis on early literacy and numeracy in many settings, which can lead to a ‘bolt on’ approach to work on creativity,” and “a poor understanding of the role of creativity, or even how to use basic arts skills, by many early years practitioners and providers” (p. 2).
The present position is not much improved, despite initiatives such as ‘Sing Up’ and the Voices Foundation, demonstrating the power of singing in schools. A thorough review of music training for teachers of young children highlighted the importance of positive perceptions of music self-identity and self-efficacy. It emphasised the need for these to be encouraged and supported throughout a teacher’s continuous professional development, beginning with initial teacher education [13] (Digby 2020, (p. 6)).
However, in a recent article, [14] Welch et al. (2020) lament the current situation, particularly in early years education, attributing the unequal access to music education to limited pedagogical experience of early years’ teachers. One suggestion they made for overcoming this lack of pedagogical experience in generalist teachers is effective, class-based mentoring by specialist music educators (p. 9). They also suggest partnership between music specialists and early years colleagues in ‘close-to-practice research’ [15] (Wyse, Brown, Oliver, & Poblete, 2018) and the incorporation of the principles of effective music pedagogy when working with young children (p. 10).
There is a body of work that highlights the need to provide non-specialists with effective long-term training and support to develop their music skills, subject knowledge and confidence (e.g., [16] Barrett, Zhukov & Welch, 2019; [17] Bautista, Toh and Wong, 2016; [18] Holden & Button 2006; [14] Welch 2020). This concern is not unique to England or indeed the UK. Similar concerns were raised in Australia (again, Barrett, Zhukov & Welch, 2019), Indonesia ([19] Julia, Hakim & Fadilah, 2019), the USA, Namibia, Ireland and South Africa ([20] Russell-Bowie, 2009)
Several studies have consistently found that teachers with little or no music background are (not surprisingly) less confident and uncomfortable in teaching music (e.g., [9] Hallam et al., 2009; [21] Hennessy, 2017; [10] Mills, 1989; [22] Poulter & Cook, 2020). They are thus less likely to be able to provide high quality musical experiences and might even pass down their own discomfort and fear of music [23] (Siebenaler, 2006).
Recent studies suggest that effective mentoring and induction may improve teachers’ job satisfaction and thus retention ([24] See et al. (2020); [25] Allen & Sims, 2017; [26] DeAngleis, Wall & Che, 2013; [27] Glazerman & Seifullah, 2013; [28] Gold, 1987; [29] Ronfeldt & McQueen, 2017), and this could be particularly important in a subject area where there may be less confidence. [16] Barrett, Zhukov & Welch’s (2019) study of Australian teachers suggests that a collaborative approach to workplace mentoring for generalist teachers can help strengthen music provision in early childhood education. This study adopts such an approach, helping to address the gap between research and practice ([30] Glushankof (2007)) and exploring the potential for collaboration between teachers and music specialists. It aims to develop ‘knowledge for use’ to improve musical experience and learning, [31] (Young 2016), with trainers, specialists and teachers looking not only at the ‘what’ of teaching—such as the new Model Music Curriculum—but also the ‘how’ of teaching those skills ([32] Bremmer, 2015). This paper presents an evaluation of the professional development training of 54 non-specialist primary teachers who participated in a large randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the First Thing Music (FTM) intervention, adopting a Kodály-inspired approach to music. The trial was conducted in the north of England. Although the trial was funded, (by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Royal Society for the Arts), to test the impact of FTM on young children’s outcomes, the focus of this paper is on the collaborative approach to mentoring in the professional development of non-specialist teachers. The evaluation activities and findings presented in this paper were not part of the RCT study or its implementation and process evaluation and were not conducted with input from the EEF, but this study focuses on the group of teachers who participated in the RCT trial. While the RCT trial was mainly focused on pupil outcomes (as this was what the project was funded for), a large part of the FTM intervention involved the training, mentoring and regular support of generalist teachers. This aspect of the intervention should not be ignored as it has huge implications for teacher development. Any improvement in children’s outcomes can only come about if teachers have the knowledge and understanding of music, the pedagogical skills and the confidence to deliver it.
The training programme itself was delivered through partnership with the British Kodály Academy (BKA), the Tees Valley Music Service (TVMS) and the Sheffield Music Hub. The BKA developed the teaching modules and the pedagogical approach to the training, while the TVMS and the Sheffield Music Hub provided the mentors who were, in turn, trained to support teachers in the school.

2. Background to the Kodály Approach

The Kodály approach on which FTM is based is described by [5] Hanson (2003) as “a sequential process, by which (a culture’s folk) songs and active, authentic singing games are implemented to teach rhythm, melody, harmony, form, timbre, texture, and expression, in addition to the skills of singing, listening, moving, reading and writing notation, and the analysis of music (p. 7)”.
Although it was developed by Zoltan Kodály, (1882–1967) in his native Hungary, it used the ‘solfege’ technique created in England by Sarah Glover and developed by John Curwen [33] (Landis 1972). It should be noted that FTM uses the term ‘Kodály’ to describe a Kodály-inspired approach which also incorporates theories of Dalcroze [34] (Choksy 1981)—internalizing musical patterns through movement. The Kodály approach has an international appeal, with well-established research and practice both in America [35] (Houlahan and Tacka 2016), and Australia, (the Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia), as well as in Spain. The British Kodály Academy is affiliated with the International Kodály Society and runs courses to support and promote quality music education in the UK.
The approach developed for FTM was chosen for simplicity and accessibility, being low-cost, involving no instruments, and designed to be delivered by generalist teachers during curriculum hours. Importantly, it made no assumptions of previous musical knowledge, taking the trainees through the same steps that they would follow with their classes—everything to be experienced and embodied.
Most Kodály music sessions in previous studies have been delivered by music specialists, and while there have been studies evaluating the impact of the Kodály approach to music on young children’s learning and developmental outcomes, no studies have actually evaluated the use of this approach for training non-specialist teachers. And, as far as we know, prior to the EEF trial, there have been no studies that evaluated the impact of the Kodály trained non-specialist teachers on pupil outcomes. Our study is the first to do both.

3. The Model of Teacher Training Delivery

The teacher training programme in this study was developed based on the Kodály’s philosophy to music, which emphasises intuitive interactive learning. One core principle of Kodály is that it should be taught in a logical and sequential manner. The techniques engage learners in singing, body movement and group exercises. Teachers were trained in the way they would teach the children following the core principles of Kodály. In other words, the trainers model for the teachers how the music lessons would look, and teachers, in turn, model the singing and the movement for the children. It is well established that modelling is one of the most powerful teaching and learning strategies ([36] Bassanezi, 1994; [37] Cruess, Cruess and Steinert 2008; [38] Muijs and Reynolds, 2017).
In order to facilitate training on a Kodály-inspired approach, BKA trainers developed a printable Resources Pack, containing an introduction, and 30 songs and rhymes arranged in incremental progression (see Appendix C), with explanations of how the underlying pedagogical theory could be applied. This was augmented by recordings of the training sessions themselves, all made available on a password-protected website, ( accessed from 30 November 2018. No instruments or equipment were necessary.
The teachers’ physical experience of sound, movement and voicing laid the foundations for the development of musical skills and use of notation, which they in turn could deliver to the children in their own classrooms. The underlying philosophy—‘Preparation; Presentation; Practise’—meant that everything was ‘prepared’ or introduced over time as physical experience, before ‘presentation’ as a conscious cognitive concept, (i.e., giving something a name, e.g., ‘beat’, a very brief process). This would then be followed with plenty of ‘practise’ of the use of the concept in creative ways. Critically, this applied as much to the teachers who went through this experiential process themselves as it would later to the children, with the same incremental progression being mirrored in the classroom stage by stage. For example, if we were looking at creating a sense of a steady beat, typically with a child’s experience of being rocked or bounced preceding the developing control of movement in the upper and then lower body ([39] (Greenhalgh 2014, (p. 34)); [40] (Forrai, 1988)) then the trainers used the songs of the repertoire to give a similar sequence of experiences to the teachers. The sequential progression was central to the training and was reflected in the unfolding content of each session.

Training of Teachers

It should be noted that the EEF/RSA trial and the study presented in this paper were conducted in 2018/19 before the COVID-19 pandemic. All the FTM training was ‘in-person’ during that time. The lead trainers were both well-established tutors from the British Kodály Academy. Figure 1 shows the teacher training delivery model.
The training was practical, consisting of one whole day in mid-September, plus one 3-h session for each of six half-terms over the academic year. All participants came together for the first full day, but the 3-h sessions were often repeated in up to three optional locations to accommodate the wide regional spread of the participating schools—Teesside, the North East and Sheffield. In addition, each teacher was assigned a music practitioner/mentor, who spent weeks 1 and 3 of delivery visiting the school on a daily basis, leading the 15 min sessions at first, but gradually handing over the session leadership role to the teachers themselves as they gained confidence. After these intensive early weeks, the practitioners continued to support the teachers, but began reducing the contact time to one visit or phone call per week as necessary; sometimes more or less as required.
The profile of the group ranged from newly qualified teachers to those with three decades of teaching experience. Four of the 54 were male. Generally, the group sessions were held in an informal circle, enabling participants to take an active role in the songs and games, whilst simultaneously learning about the pedagogical approach of the Kodály-based activities. After the introductory full day on how to prepare experiences of steady beat for the children, the following half days covered:
  • Making beat conscious;
  • Experiencing rhythm;
  • Making rhythm conscious and how to physically represent and visualise this, leading to analogical notation, (e.g., 1 large figure for a quarter note/crotchet and 2 smaller co-joined figures for eighth notes/quavers);
  • Pitch matching—singing in tune;
  • Pitch shape and melodic contour—introducing simple pitch notation.
At the end of the trial, all the teachers came together for a celebration event where feedback was collected from them about the success and challenges in delivering this model of teacher training.
The music sessions in schools were to be delivered every day for 15 min over the academic year. This paper reports only the results of the CPD evaluation, which collected data on the teachers’ observed and reported self-efficacy, competence and teaching practice, as well as the perceived impact on children’s behavioural and learning outcomes.

4. Aims

Although the FTM trial was to test the impact of this Kodály-inspired approach to music on children’s outcomes, this paper presents a study conducted separately from the RCT trial, particularly focused on the model of training, which uses the Kodály-inspired pedagogy as described above. This approach to training involves the collaboration of a number of stakeholder partnerships. This kind of partnership between music specialists and teachers in ‘close-to-practice research’ [15] (Wyse, et al., 2018), has been suggested as an effective way to overcome the lack of pedagogical skills among generalist teachers. The aim of this paper is, therefore, to evaluate the feasibility of this kind of partnership in training non-specialist primary teachers in delivering the Kodály-inspired approach to music in a typical classroom setting, and the result of this training on teacher outcomes. As this was the first time that such a model of training has been used with the Kodály-inspired approach, we think it would be useful to identify some of the challenges and barriers to delivering the training.
Research questions:
  • How feasible is a collaborative partnership with music specialists in delivering Kodály-inspired music training to generalist teachers?
  • Does this kind of training appeal to schools, teachers and trainers?
  • What are the challenges and barriers to delivering this model of training?
  • To what extent is the Kodály-inspired approach to training associated with improvement in teachers’ confidence and competence in delivery of music sessions and their attitude towards music?
  • What is the perceived impact on young children’s learning and developmental outcomes?

5. Method

The First Thing Music training was designed as part of a two-armed randomised controlled trial (RCT) where 108 teachers across 55 schools were randomised to First Thing Music (the treatment group, n = 54) or a business-as-usual control, (n = 54) to test the impact of the Kodály-inspired approach to music on Year One (aged 5–6 years) children’s academic and behavioural outcomes. For this paper we report the findings from the process evaluation, which documents the training of 54 non-specialist teachers in delivering music, and the reported impact on both teacher and pupil outcomes.
The data for the process evaluation was collected using a combination of strategies, including a pre-post survey (Appendix A), observation records from mentors, written feedback from teachers and headteachers, focus group feedback from teachers and school leaders and a reflective journal.
The questionnaire for the survey was designed by members of the FTM team, consisting of 12 items across four domains measured using 5-point Likert-type scales from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree, looking at the teachers’ self-assessment of their personal musicality, how they saw the place of music in the classroom, attitudes to teaching music and workload and, lastly, attitudes to curriculum and testing in a music education context. All the teachers taking part in the training completed the survey on arrival on the first training day (n = 54), and the teachers were asked to repeat the process with identical ‘post project’ surveys, (n = 47). Analysis was performed on only the 41 teachers who completed both pre- and post-surveys. Categorical data from the surveys were analysed using odds ratios to see if teachers had become more or less positive in their perceptions of their musical competence after the intervention. We calculated the odds of teachers answering “strongly agree” and “agree” before and after the intervention. Odds ratios are calculated by dividing the after-intervention results by the results before intervention, giving the odds of how likely teachers are to report they agree or strongly agree with each of the items after the intervention.
Observational data by mentors who supported the teachers in the delivery of the programme were collected as weekly logs, producing a series of external points of reference throughout the formative process. The logs document the progress of the teachers assigned to that particular mentor.
Teachers and headteachers also provided written feedback at mid-point in the trial. In addition, verbal feedback from focus groups with teachers and school leaders was collated by an independent evaluator on the last training day of the project.
Fourteen teachers provided further insight into the effect on their teaching practice and pedagogy in their reflective journals. These journals were voluntary and were only required for those that wished to complete extra assignments to qualify for the accredited BKA Foundation Level Certificate.

6. Findings

6.1. Is the Collaborative Partnership with Music Specialists a Feasible Approach to Delivering Music Training?

This study was the result of a collaboration between several stakeholders, leading to the development of practical modules for training teachers in music and music specialists in mentoring skills. The question is whether this collaborative partnership is feasible. The fact that music specialists were able to develop a working syllabus from scratch, successfully train teachers to deliver the programme in schools, that teachers felt supported and that the programme was well received is evidence of the feasibility of this partnership. It is an example of the potential of such collaboration in providing diverse opportunities for professional musicians, music education organisations and schools to work together to support teachers in music education. As the descriptive data in 6.4 show, this approach was deemed to be not only feasible but also an effective way to introduce music experience to teachers with accompanying Kodály-inspired pedagogy. This supports the findings of [16] Barrett, Zhukov and Welch’s (2019) research, in their evaluation of the workplace mentoring of generalist teachers in early childhood education settings in Australia. It also confirms the claims by [15] Wyse et al. (2018) of the value of this kind of partnership in a ‘close-to-practice research’ as an effective way to develop pedagogical skills among generalist teachers.

6.2. What Do Teachers, Schools and Trainers Think of the Collaborative Kodály-Inspired Approach to Training?

Teachers received regular support in their own settings from specialist mentors. The Kodály-inspired approach, involving repetition of song/rhyme repertoire, helped to embed learning, as did the layering of games within each item. The First Thing Music Resource Pack plus the website videos developed by the music specialists supported teachers throughout their training. Teachers reported that the informal support and camaraderie through regular shared professional development sessions had been an important factor in helping to develop their confidence. This echoes the effects of the interactive songs and games in supporting the learning within the classes of children. All the teachers thought the intervention model was effective in developing their own music skills. The training did not require special equipment or instruments and might therefore be attractive to schools where the budget is tight. The playful approach also helped to develop a more positive teacher–class relationship, thus facilitating classroom management. In addition, teachers reported enjoying the music sessions (See Section 6.4).
The regular support of trained mentors with knowledge and expertise in this Kodály-inspired approach was crucial in providing that initial handholding on which the initially less confident teachers could rely. The participatory training where teachers and trainers together practised the songs and movements along with their colleagues helped build up that confidence. Trainers modelled how the songs were to be introduced, so teachers could also model and lead the singing and actions in class. This chimes with research on teaching and learning, which has consistently found role modelling to be an effective strategy (e.g., [38] Muijs and Reynolds 2017). All this has implications for in-service teacher training, school mentoring and induction programmes and the continuing professional development of teachers, not only in music teaching, but also in the wider curriculum.

6.3. What Are the Challenges and Barriers to Delivering This Model of Training?

Not all teachers found that the pace of the training suited them, especially when there were gaps between the CPD and the chance to deliver content in the classroom—a ‘little and often’ would have been preferred. Lack of leadership support, timetabling priorities such as phonics and maths and staff absences and turnover were other barriers. However, these kinds of barriers are not specific to the approach of training itself. Some teachers felt that some of the difficulties experienced were because the training was introduced as a ‘one class at a time’ intervention, interrupting the flow of normal shared activities within year groups. They suggested that a whole-school approach might be better.

6.4. Is There Any Relationship Between Training and Teacher Outcomes

6.4.1. Development of Teacher Musicality

Teachers reported observable benefits to their own practice and their ability to teach music to their classes. Of particular significance is the development of teachers’ knowledge and understanding in delivering music lessons. Teachers had also developed confidence and self-efficacy in teaching children through singing and movement, and development in their musicality.
All teachers reported that they enjoyed listening to music before and after the intervention (Table 1). This is not surprising. However, comparing teachers’ responses before and after the training, there were obvious positive changes in teachers’ musicality. They were now almost six times more likely to sing to themselves often and three times more likely to report having a good sense of rhythm than before. After the training, teachers were over four times more likely than before to report greater confidence in performing music in front of other people. A common theme that came up frequently was the progress teachers made in building their confidence in delivering music to their children. Feedback from teachers suggested that some struggled to find the confidence to sing in front of others earlier in the project. For example, one reflected in their journal:
I was a bit apprehensive at first, but actually I think I was just over-thinking it.
Journal Teacher 1
Another teacher also reflected on how the training had empowered them in their confidence in delivering music:
The project has inspired non-musical teachers to feel confident to deliver music within their settings which is a huge positive for the world of primary education. Having taken part in theFirst Thing Musicproject, I would highly recommend this approach to be used within schools, enabling all children to see themselves as ‘musicians’ regardless of ability and experience.
Journal Teacher 7
Observations from the FTM team also noted the teachers’ developing reactions to the activities and their growing confidence. As the teachers relaxed and began to concentrate on the games, their confidence grew. Below are some examples of observations from the FTM research assistant:
Some teachers quite reluctant in the warm-up–“I can’t do this”; I don’t know what I’m doing!” or shy when stamping or jumping–little enthusiasm. This tended to ease when teachers worked together more, e.g., when pairing up and trying to ‘break record’, or working on ‘Queen Queen Caroline’ in a group.
Enjoying the training, laughing, smiling at mistakes; becoming more confidence as training continues.
As the year progressed, and the training covered the difference between beat and rhythm and how to notate simple rhythmic patterns, there were some real ‘light bulb moments’, as observed by the research assistant:
More than half originally said they expected you have to be musical to read music, and this reduced to none after the activity with the te-te ta. (This refers to activities that moved from physical representation of the number of sounds on a beat, using teams of children and floor spots, to simple analogical notation. Password-protected examples are on the training website: https/ available on request).

6.4.2. Development of Teachers’ Music Practice in the Classroom

The teachers’ practices in the classroom have also seen positive changes (Table 2).
The biggest improvement was seen in the teachers’ knowledge of teaching music. Teachers were now almost 16 times more likely than before to report a strong understanding of teaching music. This has implications for initial teacher training and also for professional development. To illustrate, we have an extract from a teachers’ journal where they said:
Over the course of the First Thing Music project, I feel that I have developed my own skills in teaching and inspiring a love and understanding of Music education and how it can be taught through a process which is joyful and fun for the children. I believe strongly that the children in my class have come on a journey with me which has helped us to develop a secure grounding in life long, transferable musical skills.
Journal Teacher 5
Most teachers were grateful to the project for developing their deeper understanding of how to teach music in KS1, with some quite moving testimonies about the realisation that they could understand music in a new way themselves:
A stave of music appeared on the screen with traditional graphic notation and I could hear it clearly inside my head! I learnt to read graphic notation, in the traditional way as a child when learning to play the violin. During this process I was never encouraged to imagine what the music would sound like in my head, before “squeaking” it out on my instrument. This flash of inspiration made it clear how the Kodály(-inspired) method/approach prepares the learner for actually reading music, like we learn to read texts.
Journal Teacher 2
The mentor observation logs also recorded that teachers were making much progress, and by the end of the project, all had covered beat and rhythm as well as the use of notation. Of the 54 teachers, 28 had moved on to pitch by the third term.
To illustrate, we document the progress made by two teachers, as observed by their mentor. The teacher in School B had less confident children to begin with, but by the end of the week, the children were participating fully, and the teacher showed confidence in leading the songs in the second week. By the end of the Spring term, the mentor noted that both children and their teacher had made good progress, working on items 11–13, (Engine Engine, Listen Listen and Apple Tree) in the repertoire (see Appendix C).
In School C, all the teaching assistants were fully involved in all the sessions, working with the staff and children as a large team. By the end of the Spring term, the teacher had covered items 13–15, (Apple Tree, Mary Ann and Hot Cross Buns) in a week, and the children had secured the beat and the rhythm, showing the ability to internalise. Teacher C was then able to move quickly to work on notation for these songs, including the addition of a ‘rest’, and some of the more complicated group games, such as the ‘jump’ in Hot Cross Buns and the hand drum/passing apples in Apple Tree. As an example, one mentor reported this:
Seeing the development in the class teachers, some from a quiet and unsecure place to now leading and writing an end of year sharing story involving many of the singing games—just fabulous!
Mentor M
Extracts from teachers’ reflective journals provide clues as to how this was achieved. For example, one teacher noted how the support of their mentor enabled them to make the progress from Week 1 to Week 30.
Week 1: What have I been signed up for? I am not a musical person and I have spent a whole day this week singing. I don’t know where to start. I am so pleased that we have a mentor coming in for a week so that she can show me what I actually need to do.
Week2: This doesn’t seem so bad after all. I’m not sure I see where this is going, but I can deliver it to the children and they really enjoy doing music every morning. The focus is on the steady beat and some of them are really getting it.
Week 22: Mentor came in this week–It’s now got to the point where I feel like we are just showing her what we have been up to. I feel much more confident singing in front of all of the children and even our mentor coming in doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve come to a realisation that I enjoy singing with the children and it doesn’t matter if I am pitch-perfect, they just laugh it off with me. They love singing and now I actually love singing.
Week 30: I introduced ‘Charlie over the ocean’ to the children today and the pure delight in their faces was lovely to see. I found that my foot was keeping the beat and when I discussed this with the children, they could explain to me exactly what I was doing. It’s amazing to think that they have come so far since September with the language they not only know but understand. It isn’t only the children that have come so far; I feel like my understanding of how to teach early music and my passion to do so has improved also.
Journal Teacher 1
Another teacher reflected in their journal:
As a teacher, I believe I have covered the music curriculum in greater depth this year. The support from my mentor, and the training sessions have given me the confidence and the vocabulary to ensure clear progression has been made, and the children are not only achieving, but are completely engaged in their learning. I hope to continue to use my training in subsequent years to ensure effective music teaching.
The range of ability in the cohort is vast, with some children working well below age related expectation. However, this intervention provided appropriate challenge and support for all involved. It was amazing to see that specific children who are working at EYFS level are able to access the same lesson as their peers, with one child in particular excelling and becoming one of the more able in music.
Journal Teacher 13, Male
Positive improvements were also made in teachers’ self-efficacy and confidence. Teachers were less likely to say that they did not incorporate music in their class. They were also less likely to want to use pre-recorded music, suggesting that they were now happier leading the music session themselves. This is an indication of teachers’ growing confidence and self-efficacy. Teachers’ reflections in their journals also provide evidence of these changes:
The programme has been inspirational to myself, as a Year 1 teacher and my Teaching Assistant—both with a lack of musical ability. It has also been extremely encouraging when other members of staff pass on comments when working with the class, regarding their good listening skills, confidence, timing, good behaviour and positive attitude. I must also mention that the support given during the half termly sessions with the research team and the regular mentor support visits to school helped to alleviate my apprehension with delivering the programme.
Journal Teacher 4
I felt very under-confident and reluctant at the beginning of the process, and actually fely [sic] disappointed that my colleague hadn’t been chosen for the project—now I’m going to lead Kodály sessions for all of KS1 next year.
Journal Teacher 3
Headteachers also reported changes in their staff’s confidence in delivering music:
I have observed both classes in a session which I found very exciting. All children were on task and both members of staff delivered the sessions with confidence.
Headteacher 2
These findings concur with those of many previous studies showing how modelling, reflecting and acting was crucial in developing teachers’ confidence and pedagogical knowledge (e.g., [37] Cruess, Cruess & Steinert, 2008, [21] Hennessy 2017; [22] Poulter and Cook, 2019).
Although teachers were less certain about music as a behavioural tool in the context of the survey (Table 2), several teachers reported an improvement in the children’s punctuality and enthusiasm within the classroom, and this led to many commenting on the improvements that they had seen in behaviour. One teacher reported less behavioural incidents over the last year compared to the previous three years. Others reported how children were now better at turn taking and listening.
An earlier study [41] (See and Ibbotson, 2018) of the Kodaly-inspired approach suggests impact on children’s social, emotional and behavioural development, showing an effect size of +0.71. This was a small, randomized study where children’s outcomes were measured using the Early Learning Developmental Goals (ELGs) set out in the National Curriculum. One possible reason for the divergent findings could be that the current study was based on teacher observation, and children’s behavioural outcomes were not monitored and measured to register progress. It is also possible that previous studies reporting positive effects of music on behaviour were typically conducted on children with autism and other socio-emotional and behavioural difficulties where music may be an effective intervention. Therefore, it is not surprising that no obvious changes in behaviour were observed among the majority of children. In any case, a large systematic review of experimental studies on the impact of music as a behavioural therapy has shown mixed results [42] (See and Kokotsaki, 2016). Future research, therefore, could look at the impact on the behavioural and learning outcomes of subgroups of children, such as children with special educational needs, those whose first language is not English as well as children in receipt of free school meals (i.e., those who would normally not have access to private music lessons).

6.4.3. Teachers’ Attitudes to Teaching Music

The collaborative training programme has helped in the development of teachers’ attitude to teaching music, many of whom started with a lot of apprehension and uncertainty. Teachers were more likely (2.4 times) to disagree that music does not make teaching enjoyable after the training than when they first started (Table 3). Teachers were slightly more positive about being part of the research project at the end of the trial than at the beginning.
The written feedback and journal reflections from teachers show that teachers had enjoyed singing and were looking forward to more of the sessions:
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our singing this term and are looking forward to more in the new year.
Written feedback Teacher 4
This is, without a doubt, my favourite part of the day. And what’s even better is that it’s the children’s favourite part too. It’s so nice to see the children learn through play, as they should, without numbers and targets to reach.
Journal Teacher 8
Feedback from focus group discussions echoed similar sentiments, where teachers said that the music sessions had brought ‘enrichment’, ‘enjoyment’ and ‘pleasure’ to the school day. This aligns with one of the core principles of the Kodály philosophy, which is that there should be pleasure in learning music. To this end, the strategy adopted in this study can be said to have achieved this.
The positive change in teachers’ attitude to music could be the result of a number of factors. For example, the regular mentor and peer support and the opportunity to work in groups with peers who, like themselves, were at first rather diffident, meant that they became less worried or afraid of making mistakes. There is also the opportunity to reflect—all this may have contributed to this change in attitude. It is also the case that the songs introduced were simple and easy to learn—teachers did not feel that they needed a ‘musical background’ to be able to teach the music sessions.

6.4.4. Teachers’ Perception of Music in the Curriculum

The survey results show there was a slight, positive shift in teachers’ view of music as a core activity in the curriculum (Table 4). However, teachers were less sure if music has positive impact on children’s attainment at KS1.
While teachers were very positive about the impact of the training on their own skills and knowledge in delivering music, they were less sure about its impact on children’s learning and its relevance to the curriculum. However, feedback from school leaders at the Evaluation Day discussions shows that some head teachers recognised the potential in Kodály (i.e., this Kodály-inspired approach to teaching music) in speech and language development and children’s oracy. They saw this as a way to ‘push on the national curriculum’. They said that they would like to see the curriculum broaden and take into greater account the simple enjoyment of the school day in order to improve learning in speech and language. Several teachers reported noticing improvements in children’s fluency and expression when reading.
There have been several advocates for the Kodály-inspired approach to teaching to be integrated into the school curriculum. Some have even gone so far as to argue that music should be at the heart of the curriculum, a core subject used as a basis for education [34] (Chosky et al. (2001). Scott (2009) [43] explained how the collaborative inquiry stance of Kodály-inspired music education can be applied to the classroom across the curriculum where the instructional sequences and materials associated with the ideas of Kodály may be valuable guides for instruction. In the Kodály-inspired approach, teachers model the learning behaviour, and children learn through active engagement with teachers and their peers in a collaborative learning environment.
Previous studies have suggested that integrating music in the curriculum can facilitate learning, but only for primary school aged children. Some have shown positive effects on children’s reading (e.g., [44] Bryant 2013; [45] Cochran 2009; [46] Lyons 2009; [47] Peters 2011; [48] Register et al., 2007; [49] Walton 2013) and maths ([50] An 2013; [51] Courey et al., 2012).
Some felt that the professional development of the project had ‘left a legacy’ of an increased value of music within their schools. They expressed that they had been inspired to continue music beyond the project as a result of taking part in First Thing Music, whilst others felt that this had opened up a new passion for them:
First Thing Music has certainly given me a passion for music and teaching early music I never imagined I’d have.
Journal Teacher 1
I can see that the children are really enjoying the sessions and they were fun for me to join in with them—think they enjoyed that too. I have also noticed that the children are growing in confidence when singing both together and individually and skills like their rhythm and pulse are also improving. I am a huge believer in the impact of music/song/rhythm on other areas of the curriculum and a child’s development.
Headteacher 3
The following comment from a headteacher in the northeast highlighted a revival of interest in the potential benefits of music practice in the school curriculum:
I have really enjoyed participating in the First thing music over this term. This is something we used to do a lot of a few years ago and reminded me of some of our key music practice we’ve had in the past that we need to revisit and on a more regular basis—we are looking at this.
Headteacher 3
In another comment, a headteacher from a Middlesbrough school commented on how the music sessions had benefitted staff and pupils, especially those with special educational needs and those with behavioural issues, as well as those for whom English is not their first language:
Having attended a session this term I feel the following sums up my opinions:
The sessions are well planned and engaging
Children are actively engaged despite any barrier they present, e.g., EAL (English as an additional language), SEND, (special educational needs), or behavioural issues
The opportunities for rhythm and patterns including dynamics are ripe
The structure of the sessions are sequential, stimulating and present opportunities for interleaved learning that benefits all children
I would love to attend more and more sessions and roll it out across my year 1 team
I feel the staff, children and any volunteers are benefiting greatly by the active learning of core songs, language development and musical opportunities
Headteacher 4

6.5. Perceived Impact on Children’s Outcomes

Although the paper is about teacher development and its impact on teachers, the effect on children’s outcomes should not be ignored. Here, we report only on teachers’ observations of the impact on children’s outcomes. The impact evaluation of the RCT will be reported elsewhere. At the time of writing, the results of the impact evaluation are not yet available.

6.5.1. Improvement in Children’s Confidence

In their mid-point feedback, focus groups and journals, teachers reflected on the effect of the music sessions on the children in their classes. A common theme that came up very often was the improvement in children’s confidence and self-esteem. This was repeated so many times by teachers, mentors and headteachers. Comments such as, “It makes them feel worth listening to”, and “They don’t normally have the confidence to raise their hand in maths, but now they do—after music” were heard during the November training day. Children were more ready to follow instructions and ‘have a go’:
The confidence of the children has improved greatly when singing and has also encouraged others with behavioural and social interaction difficulties to participate and end the project confident and happy to sing in front of others without concern. Children had opportunities to focus on their listening skills, develop their social interactions with others and also communicate their ideas in a concise way supported by their own experience evidence.
Journal Teacher 7
It was particularly heartening to hear that the music intervention had also made a big impact on children with special educational needs. Several teachers pointed out that the music sessions had a levelling effect—where very confident children might ‘take a step back’ and be ‘a team member rather than a team leader’. The high achievers seemed to benefit from this access to group work—appearing to be more focused and enjoying the team work:
From the observations and from feedback and discussions with the intervention staff, we all felt that the children had become more used to taking turns and choosing different partners to those that they would usually choose. I noticed that the children were encouraged to make eye contact which was especially helpful for those children who find this difficult. One child who is normally very shy and extremely quiet, beamed throughout the session as it gave her the opportunity to find her voice. In both classes I saw the children really listening to the instructions which were required for each activity.
Headteacher 2

6.5.2. Perceived Impact on Children’s Language Development

Teachers reported marked development in children’s vocabulary, particularly among EAL (English as an additional language) children:
Working in a multilingual school with children from many nationalities and various levels of English, the First Thing music programme has been a brilliant way to get all the children involved. So far I have had two entirely non- English speaking children join my class and one of them had never even been to a school setting before. At first he used to cry and scream at having to come to school, wouldn’t sit down on the carpet and definitely wouldn’t join in with social times such as playtime or lunch with the other children but gradually he would come and sit at the back of the hall during our music and then (with a little encouragement from my TA) he joined the circle. After a short while he was willing to join in with our welcome song and then he was the postman with ‘Early in the Morning’, which he did on his own! He now comes into the hall along with the others and participates with the others despite having no English. As for classroom behaviour, he is still struggling to sit and listen to stories and he’ll wriggle etc but if I sing his name or sing an instruction he will turn and correct himself! This is an absolute difference to when he first arrived.
Journal Teacher 9
The Evaluation Day discussions yielded an account from a headteacher who felt that the daily music sessions had been invaluable in their school. They explained that their school community was 77% EAL, with many of their pupils coming from a Roma background. The School Leadership Team had noted improvements in fluency, writing skills, rhythm and hand–eye coordination. It was felt that the music had assisted these children in ‘putting language into context’ and improved their ability to infer:
The music subject lead and I went in to see the First Thing Music session on Friday and were really impressed with how it is going–confidence, concentration, social skills, speaking and listening skills, musicality, enjoyment were all evident.
Headteacher 1
Teachers also observed improvements in children’s fluency, expression in reading and literacy:
With one child in particular who has speech and language issues, I have seen a great improvement. Before the First Thing Music project, the child was very hesitant to speak but he now joins in class discussions, shares answers and news and has clearer speech. This has been a wonderful development and huge achievement for this child.
Journal Teacher 11
The children have a great understanding of music and can keep the steady beat, rhythm, change pitch and volume. They are even able to read music which is amazing. The children in my class performed better in the Year 1 Phonics Screening test than the control group. My class had a 91% pass rate whereas the control group had a 82% pass rate. Both classes have received the same teaching of phonics, the same scheme followed (Letters and Sounds) and the same resources used.
Journal Teacher 11
Previous studies have reported positive effects of music in general on pre-school children’s creativity [52] (Duncan, 2007), spatial-temporal ability [53] (Gromko and Poorman 1998), IQ scores [54] (Kaviani et al., 2014; [55] (Nering, 2002) and reading and language [56] (Harris, 2011; Myant et la., 2008). For primary school children, positive effects were reported for speech (e.g., [57] François et al. 2013; [58] Moreno et al., 2009), brain development (e.g., [59] Degé et al., 2014, [60] Olson, 2010; [1] Schellenberg 2004; [61] Schlaug et al., 2005), academic outcomes (e.g., [62] Harris, 2008; [63] Piro and Ortiz, 2009) and other cognitive skills (e.g., [64] Costa-Giomi, 1999; [65] Roden et al., 2014). However, the evidence is not conclusive, primarily because much research in this area has been weak and mostly based on teachers’ reports.
While the benefits of music on children’s learning have been widely acknowledged, the impact specific to the Kodály-inspired music education has not been robustly evaluated. One very early study compared two groups of children, one group receiving the Kodály music instruction and another acting as control [66] (Hurwitz et al., 1975). The study reported that the children in the experimental group performed significantly better than the children in the control group on standardised reading tests. This was a small study consisting of 40 non-randomised children. Comparison children were from two different schools.
See and Ibbotson (2018) [41] conducted a small, randomised control study where 56 pre-school children were individually randomised into treatment and control conditions. The results showed that Kodály-trained children outperformed the control children in number skills and spatial concepts after one term of exposure to the intervention. Gains in literacy (reading and writing) were only seen after two terms of exposure. These small-scale studies can only provide tentative answers. Larger-scale, more robust studies are needed to confirm the impact on children’s academic outcomes. A systematic review including 17 studies that evaluated the impact of music found that the only promising approaches with e positive effects on very young children’s cognitive development were the Kindermusik, Orff and Kodály methods [42] (See and Kokotsaki, 2015).

6.5.3. Perceived Impact on Children’s Disposition for Learning

Schools reported positive developments in a number of aspects in children’s disposition for learning. Teachers, for example, commented on how the music sessions had helped to ensure consistent behaviour for learning. They were more attentive and confident. Children who normally would not speak were now volunteering to speak. The music sessions were also seen as an equaliser where all children could join in, suggest ideas and perform. The perceived impacts included improved teamwork and cooperation, turn-taking and reduced incidents of misbehaviour. The teachers mentioned that punctuality had improved at the start of the school day and school drop-offs were easier, as the children appeared more willing to learn:
Children were happy and excited to come into school and start the day with singing. Developing this positive mind-set can only be constructive in supporting all learning and well-being.
Journal Teacher 13
Kodály inspired music has given the children confidence to perform amongst their peers and unites them in the fun of music. No matter how they enter school, in the morning, once the singing starts their attitude changes and any negative emotions disappear.
Journal Teacher 12
Headteachers also reported observing a range of pupil outcomes as a result of joining in with the music activity:
Having attended a couple of sessions it felt wonderful to be a part of the programme with a class of our Y1 children. I really enjoyed the games and the children sang really well. I think this kind of activity is having an impact as the children appear to be listening more attentively. Many children are able to keep a “steady beat” which I know will impact on many areas of the curriculum.
Headteacher 5
The children are participating more with all aspects of the music and learning. Confidence is developing and I am particularly impressed with levels of focus and concentration which is transferring to other sessions.
Headteacher 7
I have attended a number of music sessions over the term with squirrel class. I have noticed a real improvement in terms of their understanding of beat and also engagement of some of the harder to reach children.
Headteacher 8
Positive feedback was also received from parents and Ofsted inspectors:
OFSTED Inspector X visited—was impressed that 5 yr old children were reading musical notation, as was a parent who was assessing local private education options, and changed their mind on the spot!
Journal Teacher 6
One parent had this to say:
R never really settled into school well and would often cling to me when dropping off. It is only since R started the First Thing Music that she’s been looking forward to arriving to school and doing some singing.

7. Conclusions

This study has shown that the collaborative partnership with stakeholders has worked in supporting the delivery of the training for non-specialists in schools, which has led to the development of teachers’ skills, knowledge, self-efficacy and musicality. This has, in turn, contributed to children’s enjoyment of music and the development of their learning according to teachers’ and headteachers’ reports. The findings from this study are promising. It shows that this collaborative approach to delivering training to non-specialist teachers is feasible and has proved to be very appealing to schools and music hubs, (which saw this as an investment in enhancing appreciation of value of their music services to schools in the future). For the BKA, the training represented an opportunity to broaden the access to its structured, sequential approach to learning musicianship through singing and movement and to incorporate contributions from other methodologies such as Dalcroze.
In summary, the findings of this study based on teacher perceptions could be represented as below, in Figure 2:
There were limitations to this study, as it was running alongside an RCT. This meant that participants generally had to work separately from their colleagues in school to avoid ‘cross contamination’ of effects in the impact evaluation. Developments since has enabled year group colleagues within a school to work together, which seems to be opening new possibilities and increasing the ‘take-up’ and effect of the training. It would be interesting to compare the findings of this study with future evaluations of the training, without the need for separate intervention and control groups.While the model of teacher training using the Kodály-inspired principles to music appears to work with early years primary school teachers and children, it may not be as useful for older primary or secondary teachers. This has never been tested, so perhaps the next phase could be the development of new modules for training teachers in the upper primary and secondary schools.
Since the end of the trial, the delivery team has worked on the professional development model in response to the continued enthusiasm from participating schools. A hybrid model combining online and in-person training has been developed to enable teachers to continue to be trained and supported during the pandemic. There has also been a lot of interest from initial teacher training specialists. This training model could be developed as a core approach for all teacher training.
One of the biggest challenges to delivery was fitting the 15-minute music sessions into an already crowded timetable. On the other hand, some teachers felt that focus could be achieved more quickly through ‘singing rather than shouting’, also making progress through other required elements of the curriculum more achievable. Certainly, any school wishing to introduce this form of teacher development needs to ensure that they have strong leadership support to provide the flexible time and space for music sessions. Whether this should be ‘first thing’ in the school day or not requires further investigation.
Two important lessons were learnt that could help to address the challenges of wider delivery with the currently musically under-skilled workforce. First, at the teacher professional development level, teachers needed to have the knowledge and confidence to be able to deliver the intervention in their own settings. This Kodály-inspired approach to music training, and working in partnership with music specialists, has shown to be a promising way to provide that knowledge and confidence to generalist teachers. Teachers in this study remarked on the importance of regular meetings, support and practical sharing with colleagues. Simply being given an introduction to some resources was not enough. A chance to try things out within a practical forum, having regular feedback and the opportunity to try musical games out together before introducing them to a class of children were all important in developing that confidence.
Second, this new model of teacher training using the Kodály-inspired approach can be developed to provide a practical way for music specialist mentors to share the foundations of music education with non-specialists. One key factor in the success of this approach is the expertise of the training team from the BKA. Music specialist mentors had gained an enormous amount from being part of a team that was learning ’on the job’, developing their own pedagogy through this embodied approach and also discovering ways of supporting teachers and students at the post-graduate level.
Finally, we would like to add that while the findings of the process evaluation provided interesting insight into the challenges, benefits and perceived impact on teachers’ and children’s learning experiences, they should be interpreted with caution as they are based on participants’ self-reports and observations. Nevertheless, important lessons can be learnt from the process, which suggest wider implications for the professional development of teachers, teacher–pupil relationship and job satisfaction—all of which have important policy implications for teacher training and retention, as well as for children’s experience in school.

Author Contributions

Conceptualisation: L.I.; Methodology: B.H.S. and L.I.; Formal analysis–B.H.S.; Resources–L.I.; Writing—review and editing: L.I. and B.H.S.; Project administration, L.I. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The project was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and the Royal Society of Arts.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Ethical review and approval were waived for this study, as it involved only adults who all gave informed consent for participation. No sensitive personal data were used in the study. All data was anonymised and de-identified.

Informed Consent Statement

All participants agreed to their anonymised data being used for the research.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


British Kodály Academy trainers: Lucinda Geoghegan, and Zoe Greenhalgh. Hub delivery partners: Tees Valley Music Services—Susan Robertson, Service Manager; supported by Sheffield Music Hub. With thanks to the team of mentors who also helped to collect and collate the Teacher observations: Jane Harland, Zoe Greenhalgh, Rebecca Denniff, Clare Gale, Caroline Bell, Naomi Haigh, Colette Dutot, and Research Assistant, Olivia Wallis.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A

Figure A1. Teacher Self-Assessment Survey.
Figure A1. Teacher Self-Assessment Survey.
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Appendix B. Teacher Training Package–Further Details/Examples

Figure A2. Schedule for the initial training day.
Figure A2. Schedule for the initial training day.
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Table A1. Content for CPD October 2018—The ‘Lego’ Approach—Lindsay Ibbotson & Zoe Greenhalgh.
Table A1. Content for CPD October 2018—The ‘Lego’ Approach—Lindsay Ibbotson & Zoe Greenhalgh.
Introduction Theme of day—The Lego Approach or
How to make the most of some basic materials/recycle/build a new game….
The most basic components of music begin with
  • Beat
  • Rhythm
  • Pitch
For this term, our main focus will be on ‘beat’—developing a shared sense of the musical ‘heartbeat’ underlying all the songs and rhymes that we are using. This does not mean that we will not pick up on things such as dynamics, (louder/quieter) or tempo (faster/slower) as they occur, but the fundamental quality of music involves that thing that makes us tap our toes along with the music!
What can we make using this particular part of the lego set?
Surgery session—A large circle of 30-ish people, led by Zoe/Lindsay, discussing experiences, both positive and negative that have arisen over early weeks of the project.
Examine any issues, and then split into groups with relevant music practitioners or specialists on subject.
Everyone has now had at least one week of daily music sessions in their classrooms and some experience of leading their own sessions (at least for a couple of days).
  • When sessions were being led by the specialists from FTM, what observations did class teachers make about how the children responded?
  • How did it feel to be taking over?
  • How are the children engaging with the musical activities?
New song—See the Candle Light (?)Learn new song—(currently an extra, just for seasonal use, but later to teach concept of the ‘rest’ over the beat); incorporate in workshop below.
Exploring the ‘Lego’ aspect of a Kodály-inspired approach in more depth…
Three stages interweaving throughout the ‘fabric’ of the activities:
  • Preparation
  • Presentation
  • Practice
At this stage, everything we are doing is about the Preparation stage, helping the children to ‘feel’ and experience a particular aspect of music (in this case, ‘beat’) BEFORE introducing the underlying concept formally.
You do not necessarily need loads of new toys in the box—you can be endlessly creative with very little.
Pedagogically, this means that learning can be about concepts and creativity rather than ticking off lists of material used.
Musical behaviour is playful and being playful increases the chance that everyone will be enjoying themselves. When children are feeling happy and secure, this is likely to support the learning process.
  • Social interaction—listening, being heard, understanding about ‘taking turns’, taking pleasure in being synchronised with the group.
  • Trying out new skills as part of a game, in a safe environment—singing, moving on a beat, using gross and fine motor skills.
  • Getting instant feedback within the game, speeding up the process.
  • Developing evaluation skills—e.g., Did we all finish ‘together’ or ‘nearly together’? Was that a speaking voice or a singing voice? Were we faster or slower that time?
  • Group motivation and support—Can we get this ‘just right’?
  • Creativity—once the basics are learned, the teacher can encourage the children to contribute their ideas around the game.
Group work, with each group undertaking to find new, creative ways of playing with two songs from the currently available repertoire.
Share afterwards, with demonstrations.
Pick out aspects of the games which correlate with the six points above.
There is always more than one way to play games with this material. It is almost like playing with Lego—the bricks will take deconstructing and reconstructing many times. The main thing for the teacher is to understand the underlying concept that we’re practising, and to keep 10 min of playing ‘on track’ with this in mind.

Appendix C. Extract from the Introductory Pack and the 30-Item Repertoire List

See Also 87910 RESOURCE FILE_Layout 1

Kodály-based musical pedagogy is built on the following sequence:
Just sing and play the games! The children will be subconsciously experiencing music and will be building a song bank from which concepts can be introduced later. The preparation stage can take a long time but is a crucial stage in ensuring that the child understands. Just like learning to read, the child catches the language before reading it.
● Presentation:
This happens only when the children are secure with a particular aspect of the activities—then is the time to give the concept a name!
● Practise:
Open to a lifetime of creative uses of a skill—e.g., ‘feeling the beat’; counting people in to the beginning of a phrase or song; being able to identify whether a piece of music is in 3:4 or 4:4; making up dance steps or lyrics to the music, etc.
Figure A3. The 30-Item Repertoire List.
Figure A3. The 30-Item Repertoire List.
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Figure 1. Training delivery.
Figure 1. Training delivery.
Education 11 00433 g001
Figure 2. Synthesis of findings, based on teacher perceptions.
Figure 2. Synthesis of findings, based on teacher perceptions.
Education 11 00433 g002
Table 1. Proportion of teachers agreeing with the statements before and after the training.
Table 1. Proportion of teachers agreeing with the statements before and after the training.
Teachers’ MusicalityAgreeNot AgreeOdds Ratio
I enjoy listening to music
I often sing to myself
I have a good sense of rhythm
I am confident to perform music in front of other people
Table 2. Proportion of teachers who agreed with each of the statements before and after the training.
Table 2. Proportion of teachers who agreed with each of the statements before and after the training.
Teachers’ Music Practice in the ClassroomAgreeNot AgreeOdds Ratio
My normal teaching practice does not incorporate singing with my class.
After9.890.2* −3.8
I am happier using a pre-recorded music lesson than leading a music lesson myself.
Music can be a useful behavioural tool in the classroom
I have a strong understanding of how to teach music to my class.
* Negative signs indicate teachers were more likely to disagree with the statement after than before.
Table 3. Pre–post comparison of teachers’ attitudes to teaching music.
Table 3. Pre–post comparison of teachers’ attitudes to teaching music.
Teachers’ Attitude to Teaching MusicAgreeNot AgreeOdds Ratio
Musical activity does not make teaching more enjoyable
Delighted to be involved in research
Table 4. Proportion of teachers who agreed with each of the statements before and after the training.
Table 4. Proportion of teachers who agreed with each of the statements before and after the training.
AgreeDisagreeOdds Ratio
I do not see music as a core activity in the national curriculum
Before 29.270.8
After 12.287.8−1.07
I think that music helps to improve children’s scores in KS1 tests.
Before 31.768.3
After 41.558.51.5
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