Kodaly Level I vs. Orff Level I

     I am currently taking my Kodaly Level I course at Central Michigan University and learning so much about the Kodaly process!  That being said, I also learned a TON from my Orff level I class at VanderCook College of Music.  (I have also trained a bit in Education Through Music and Music Learning Theory--perhaps another blog post in the future!).  So, I thought I would throw out a few thoughts about the differences and similarities between the two.  This is just my opinion and please keep in mind that I have only taken one level in each methodology, so I am by no means declaring myself an expert :)

Kodaly and Orff Similarities:

1.  Great music, mostly based on folk songs and nursery rhymes. 
2.  Great people in the classes.
3.  Great and knowledgeable teachers of the levels.
4.  Movement activities.
5.  Singing activities.
6.  Games.
7.  Music notation (though one does a better job of explaining sequencing).
8.  Folk dancing.
9.  Makes you want to take Level II.
10.  Gives you great connections to ask questions in the future.
11.  Solfege.
Debating between taking KODALY Level 1 and ORFF Level 1?  Read this to see how the two music methods compare for elementary music teachers.  A great list of similiarities and differences.

Things I liked about Orff a little more:

1.  Instruments.
Kids light up when they are playing them, and even the biggest stinker in the class is finally glued to you so they won't lose their chance to play a barred instrument.  Also, let's face it, some people are great musicians but not great singers.  I worry that Kodaly might miss those students a little in the early grades.

2.  Recorders
I think Kodaly also does recorders, but I liked that I got to start learning how to play the recorder in Level I of Orff.  I'm guessing Kodaly doesn't do them until Level III since they are so sequenced :)

3.  Movement
Creative movement is an essential element to Orff and I LOVE the expression that comes from these activities in Orff.  In Orff, we had part of the day dedicated just to movement every day.  There are movement activities in Kodaly, but they seem less playful and aren't asking the students to come up with their own creations.  Again, this may happen in later levels for Kodaly, and I'm just comparing the Level I classes.

4.  K-5 in Level I
Orff Level I can be applied K-5, whereas Kodaly Level I is for K-1.  This makes it a bit more appealing for music teachers who are starting out and want tools to help their entire student body.


Things I liked about Kodaly a little more: 

1.  Sequencing, sequencing, sequencing.
If you don't know what order to teach things in and how to go about it, this class will save you years of grief.  So detailed and it makes sense.  If you want to learn more about sequencing in the Orff world, take Orff Curriculum and Design--which was a fantastic class and totally worth taking I might add.  But I still think there are a couple of more in-between details explained in the Kodaly method. 

2.  Prepare, present, practice.
This goes along with the sequencing.  I just love the idea that it's okay to keep practicing something over and over again to really nail it!  Sometimes I feel like my Orff curriculum jumps a little too fast for students to know what we were doing.

3.  Singing and Solfege.
I love the emphasis on the music literacy and musicianship of the teacher themselves.  At first I was a little annoyed by it (being honest here, please don't hold that against me).  Solfege class tests your sight-reading and coordination abilities.  Singing in a choir again after a decade of not doing so--heavenly!!  I forgot how much I love alto lines . . . no seriously, I am in love with singing alto.  I can't believe I forgot how much I loved making music just for my own satisfaction.  Kodaly has brought that back out in me!

Final Thoughts:

     Whatever your style of elementary music teaching is, taking a levels course will GREATLY improve your teaching.  Please consider taking a level in Kodaly or Orff.  Perhaps what I've noted above will help you choose which one is right for you!  My personal philosophy is to study as many methodologies as possible and steal the best stuff from each one!!  I guess that makes me an Orff/Kodaly/ETM/MLT splat teacher, but I don't think my students mind.  They just know they are loved and making great music.
     Catch you next time I have something noteworthy!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! I have completed my Kodaly Certification, and hope to someday take Orff levels. I think that having both would really help you to reach all of your students. I feel that I am kind of a type A personality when it comes to teaching and planning, and for that, I NEEDED Kodaly for the sequence and an understanding of the PPP. I absolutely cannot imagine teaching without that.

    That said, we barely used instruments in my Kodaly training and did not use recorders at all. I have tried to find "Kodaly ways" to incorporate instruments, but not having any training in them, I wish I could do better for my students in that area. I know they are probably capable of way more than I am giving them when it comes to playing on instruments.

    I think the movement piece depends on the teacher. Jo Kirk was my level 1 teacher and she was so thoughtful in how she sequenced movement when teaching her songs and dances. I feel like I keep my kids constantly moving.

    Thank you so much for a wonderful comparative post. I hope some day you have completed your levels in both and can write another post like this comparing them. I feel like I didn't get the "full picture" of the Kodaly method until I had completed Level 3, and even then, I continue to build on it each year. I am sure the same could be said about Orff.

    I think it is important that elementary music teachers are seeking out opportunities to take training in whichever methodology (or methodologies) interest them!

    If you haven't seen it, you might be interested in this blog post on Orff and Kodaly that David Row and I put together a while back: http://makemomentsmatter.weebly.com/classroom-ideas/orff-to-see-the-wizard-kodaly-borrow-your-ruby-slippers


    1. Thanks Lindsay! I really enjoyed the Kodaly sequencing and PPP (sounds like we have similar personalities in that way!). I'm excited to see how it influences my teaching this year. Now the only problems is which method to take Level II in next summer :) Jen
      PS--You will love Orff if you ever get the chance to take it!

  2. Hi, Jen! I'm a Music Education major and I plan on student teaching Spring of 2019. Both Orff and Kodaly Certification programs are offered by a college close to me. Which one would you recommend taking before I begin student teaching? I've been leaning more towards Kodaly, but I love many aspects of Orff as well. Your input would be super helpful! (My goal is to have a level under my belt before I apply for a "real" job.) :)

    1. Hi Lena,
      They are BOTH wonderful! If you feel one fits your personal "style" more, go with it because then you will believe in it. If you like super sequential processes and feel that would help you the most, go Kodály. If you want improvisation, movement, and creativity, go Orff. Best of luck to you! Jen :)