I’ve just gotten back from my third Kodaly level in Oklahoma, and I’m SO excited that I finally have my levels done! Shoutout to the amazing teachers I’ve had through the three levels in Mt. Pleasant, Portland and Norman. I am so appreciative of all you do and have taught me. Joy, Sandy, Ashely, Casey, Susan, Carol, Michael, Katalin, Nina. <3 I’m a better teacher because of you.
Part of the reason I’ve been through multiple programs is because the location I had my first course stopped offering levels after I took level 1 in 2015. After getting tired of waiting, I went to Portland for level 2 in 2019. The program at PSU breaks down the courses into four levels. Level three wasn’t offered this year but after starting 6 years ago, I didn’t want to wait another 2 summers to be fully certified, so I shipped myself to OK and here we are!
I thought some of you would benefit from hearing about different things that aren’t in the course description, and I hope this helps you out if you are considering Kodaly levels.
1. You have no time
I know this sounds a little extreme, but you don’t have time to make this a family vacation, or trip. Even people staying in their own homes have trouble getting stuff done with normal family distractions. Don’t plan evening activities because you will have homework. Some of it may be stressful because it’s an intense training. But you will make it through, so don’t think of this as discouragement!
2. You get to go school supply shopping for you
Seriously. You will want a hefty binder for your folk song collection. I recommend putting it in one while keeping all your other learning materials in another. Except what you need on a daily basis. This year, I left the bulk of my collection in the hotel room while I carried the songs specifically for level 3 from Joy with me back and forth to class.
All of the other materials I needed every day were in little document folders because they don’t weigh a lot.
3. Save Your Back
There are lots of materials you will want to reference, especially as you get into later levels. Some of those folk song books are just too much to carry daily. If you are flying especially, you do not want to have to carry them back in forth. I actually broke a backpack in Portland because I had too many books that I had to schlep on the train from class to my hotel and back. I used an app called Cam Scanner to make a digital copy of all of my most referenced books and the recommended books. They aren’t replacements, and I wouldn’t want to use them on a daily basis, but having a digital copy instead of having to lug an extra book was an idea I will absolutely recommend.
If you are going to carry the kitchen sink with you, might I recommend a wheeled bag or a crate on wheels? That folk song collection will get HEA-VY, and if you are carrying around things for other classes, your lunch, the extra cup of coffee, etc, do your back a favor. Katie Wonderly and Amy Knous who you might know from Instagram swore by theirs. I definitely see the appeal.
4. iPad & Goodnotes
Speaking of my iPad, I took all my notes for both level 2 and level 3 in an app called GoodNotes. It’s a fabulous note taking app that gives you options for paper type, including….STAFF PAPER. When I had homework for level 3, I sent a screen shot to the instructor. (Cleared ahead of time.) Do you see a theme of carrying less? Also, GoodNotes has a desktop app which I haven’t used a lot, but it’s great to have the option!
5. Don’t abandon self-care
Self care isn’t just bubble baths and chocolate, so I don’t mean it in this sense, but it’s the best way I know how to put it. Don’t go to bed after midnight because you are trying to perfect that solfege homework. Eat a good breakfast. Eat something decent for dinner instead of fast food. Make sure you take time every day, especially on the weekend, to relax, think about something else, or step away from it. I spent time in the outdoor hotel pool most of the days during level 3 which was perfect to help me refresh before starting homework. I did manage to spend time on the weekends during all three levels doing some ‘sightseeing’ by making sure I had most of my homework done on Friday night with time to finish it on Sunday evening.
6. And the rest…
- Step away when you are struggling with homework and come back to it.
- Use your classmates. Instead of everyone typing their own folk song retrieval, do it as a group.
- Read ahead of time. I think one of the best things I did between level 1 and 2 was spending a lot of time reading different Kodály texts. Since I couldn’t take a course locally, I read several and I think it prepped me to understand the ‘methodology’ better.
- Dress comfortably. You will be sitting in classroom seats, moving around, and lugging lots of materials. I love these adorable athletic skirts I got from Carrie Underwood’s brand that have shorts built in. Professional but comfortable!
- Have a spot to jot down homework. Otherwise you’ll be digging through multiple classes worth of materials to find where you wrote it down.
- Celebrate small wins with your classmates. Methodology this year felt like group therapy sometimes and it was something I think we all needed. And appreciated.
- Give yourself recovery time. It is a LOT of information and you will want to run to school the day you get back. Don’t do it. I know that is one of the reasons I was feeling very burned out when the 19-20 school year began.
I hope this helps! Feel free to drop any questions about levels in the comments.