(From left to right: Doris Maddaford, Jean Ting, Ma'am Lilymae Montano, Joyce Tan, Sir Laszlo Nemes, Ma'am Daisy Marasigan, myself, Krystl Buesa and Herbert Yonathan)
Each year, the Kodaly Society of the Philippines holds an intensive two week course on the Kodaly method of teaching music, with Conducting and Musicianship classes as well as Methods, Materials, Practicum, and "extras" like Philippine Music, Asian Music, Vocal Techniques and Recorder classes. The lecturers come from the UP College of Music and the Ateneo, and while they are all excellent, the teacher who contributes most to the course's effectivity is our beloved Hungarian mentor, Dr. Laszlo Norbert Nemes. (Hungary is renowned for its excellent music education system. How excellent? Well, their high school students transcribe Bach fugues for dictation. And their children's choir can sight read Bartok choral pieces.)
I have been fortunate enough to benefit from the mentorship of many excellent teachers during my undergrad years, but Sir Laszlo is altogether in another dimension!! Never has there been such a personification of excellent musicianship, gentility of soul, good humor and a generous, loving nature! Discounting the fact that my solfege/dictation skills have greatly improved under his tutelage, he has also taught me much by his example of kindness and humility. He is, quite simply, a teacher's teacher.
Forgive me, none of my raving can do justice to such a wonderful human being as Sir Laszlo. Being his student in Musicianship and Conducting for the past few weeks has been, quite simply, the best two weeks of my life, both as a musician and as a teacher.
It's quite humbling to realize just how far I still have to go in terms of Musicianship, but it did a world of good for me and my classmates (among them was Ma'am Isay Pineda, who was my former Theory teacher during my undergrad).
I will always remember the early morning Musicianship classes where we sight-read and harmonically analyzed excerpts from Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro." We also had excerpts for dictation. What bliss!!
And who can forget the joy of singing in a choir composed of some of the most beautiful voices our country has to offer? We did William Byrd's "Haec Dies," Zoltan Kodaly's "See the Gypsy Munching Cheese," Franz Schubert's "Salve Regina," and for our Conducting class we did Thomas Morley's "April Is In My Mistress' Face," Orlando Gibbon's "Almighty and Everlasting God," Edward Elgar's "As Torrents In Summer" and Benjamin Britten's "Deo Gracias" from A Ceremony of Carols. All sublime masterpieces!
I heartily recommend this two week course to all musicians, conductors, and music teachers. It is quite intense, as there is a great deal of homework to accomplish. But the rewards are well worth the sleepless nights and stressful days. :) No matter how stressful things got, I always woke up with a smile on my face, ready and eager to face Sir Laszlo with the Mozart arias memorized in solfa syllables. And I'm armed with a wealth of pedagogical techniques and lesson plans.
The Kodaly method is, I believe, the most effective one there is. Singapore is already getting Dr. Laszlo to train its teachers, they will be implementing the Kodaly method in their education system very soon. I wish the same would happen in the Philippines.
What attracted me to Kodaly was the philosophy behind the system, which is very patriotic (use of the finest folk songs, use of the Mother Tongue, etc.). Upon further study, I am convinced that its emphasis on the voice as the primary instrument, its use of relative do solfa (compared to fixed do solfa), and its developmentally appropriate teaching sequence is superior to others. What's even more nice about Kodaly is the fact that it can appropriate elements of other methods, like Dalcroze.
But I digress. Back to the main topic of my blog entry: Sir Laszlo.
During the lunch break on our last day (which is known as The Day of Important Conversations, because it's the only day that we course participants are no longer cramming our homework, hehe), Sir Laszlo spoke to my batchmate Joyce and I. He truly believes that the best music teacher is someone whose level of musicianship is that of a performer. Food for thought!!
Tomorrow, I go back to my workplace, to my summer students, recharged and re-energized with the burning desire to share my newfound knowledge. I can hardly wait!! :)