Read the Episode with Kodály QLD

Introduction

Here is the Crescendo Music Education Podcast – Episode 79. Welcome to the Crescendo Music Education Podcast. I have a special episode. I’m actually joined today by the Kodály Queensland committee. I am a proud member, general member of the committee. We meet, sometimes we zoom, we meet in person, we run amazing workshops and webinars, and I get to talk to everyone on the committee.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too!
The transcript of episode 079 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.


How Alisen McLeod Got Started with Kodály

Debbie
So, of course, first is our Queensland President Alisen McLeod. And I’m going to ask her, How did you get here to this whole Kodály music teaching business?


Alisen McLeod
Well, I didn’t have a lot of Kodály when I was in high school, but I wanted to be a music teacher from about the age of 10. I decided that was just my career. And so I got to university and I decided to be a music teacher, I walked into a class with James Cuskelly and solfa just threw me for a loop. I had no idea what he was talking about.

But I fell in love so much that I was doing double hand sign things on the bus on the way home from uni. And I would sing the news jingles on the TV in solfa to practice. And I just, How do you teach music without solfa and Kodály principles? I don’t know how I learned anything before that, because it just made so much sense for me that it’s so structured and so sequential, it just works.

For me, it really fit. So I loved it. From the very first time as an 18 year old when I thought I knew everything already, James. All of the work that he did at UQ with us was incredible. So I just I loved it from the first moment.


Debbie
When you started teaching did you keep training yourself?


Alisen McLeod
I always kept training and it was almost a social network talking to people that are in my profession. We’re all quite solitary people.


Debbie
Slightly crazy. Yes, okay.


Alisen McLeod
Yes, yes so being able to share with other people and continue to learn, my learning didn’t stop when I graduated at uni, I graduated, I think it’s 20 years ago this year, 2003 I left uni. I’ve never stopped learning because there’s so much out there and all of the workshops I go to, and all of the things that we put on as a committee, I’m just as keen to listen to the visiting people, as all our participants are, I can’t wait to take all the notes.

And Sorry, I have to go set lunch, but then quick, come back and take all the notes and listen to everything that they’re talking about.


Debbie
So in fact, you’re talking really about how being involved in the Kodály committee impacts and improves upon your own practice? Because I think that people who are looking to join a professional association, it’s something they might not think about. But that’s been the case for you.


Alisen McLeod
It certainly has I as I was saying that the social network of people that talk my language, because music is almost like speaking Japanese to people in my school, the classroom teachers don’t know what I do. They don’t understand. It’s this crazy other thing that they don’t, some of them don’t see the importance of it, and others do, but they don’t know how to do it.

And it’s so confusing for them. And so being able to talk to the people on the committee and say this thing happened. I don’t like it. What do I do? Or I need some advice. How do I approach my principal about this, or I’ve got this idea, and I need a song that talks about frogs, it’s just having a group of people that are also lovely and friendly.

Something that’s so wonderful about this is that we share all our ideas, no one is precious about anything. If you’ve got a great song, you want to tell everyone about it. And if you have a problem, everyone is very quick to answer and give ideas and advice and support.


Debbie
I think that’s wonderful. And I agree. That’s why I’m a professional committee person myself. And we’re very happy that you’re our president Alisen.


Alisen McLeod
Thank you, Debbie. Thank you.


Introducing Deb Brydon and Her Start with Kodály

Debbie
Now I’m here with our vice president. You’ve heard her before, lovely Deb Brydon. Also known as my work wife.


Deb Brydon
Yeah. Hi, everyone.


Debbie
So Deb, tell us about your journey to Kodály music education.


Deb Brydon
Well, mine’s quite different to Alisen. I didn’t go to uni thinking I already knew everything about music. I was a primary classroom teacher, and I was working in far north Queensland, and they couldn’t get a music teacher to come. And so I said, Sure, I’ll do that but I’m going to need some training. And a summer school flyer had come across my desk. So I said, How about this and they paid for me to come and the rest is history.


Debbie
Fabulous. I want to know why you’re still on the Kodály Queensland committee, because you started on the committee after I’ve just had a little break, I had been on the committee and I was having a little break.


Deb Brydon
I’m still here. I joined the committee at the end of 2003. So this is the end of my 20th year and working that out makes me go what. So it was the end of 2003 and I was actually at an early childhood conference with my friend Debbie Wilson, and Debbie O’Shea, see it’s all the Debbie’s, came up and said I think you two should join the committee. And I think she was really just trying to get people on so she didn’t feel guilty about leaving, but we went Hey sure and joined the committee.


Debbie
But you know, that is actually part of what I believe a good leader does, is they don’t just leave something and go, Oh, it’s okay it’s falling apart. It needs me. It’s part of your role as a leader is to build up that leadership within the other people so that they can thrive without you.


Deb Brydon
Yeah, yeah, I’ve done so many different roles on the committee in that 20 years. And I’ve had three children while on that committee. And I was initially the treasurer, after a year for quite a number of years. I don’t know how long, maybe eight or nine years and went back to general committee and Vice President and President and now back to Vice President again, and why am I still on the committee? Because it feeds my soul. It really is these like minded people who are excited about doing things. And I’m excited about doing things and who are positive, just want to get things done and to help not only their own school, but schools all around the place by supporting music teachers, so that’s why I’m still on the committee.


Debbie
And those ripples are felt so widely, so many children.


Deb Brydon
Yeah, I like to think so.


Debbie
Thank you.


Deb Brydon
You’re welcome.


How Susie Fredline Got Started with Kodály

Debbie
And we’re back this time with Susie Fredline. Now, Susie, I particularly love you, because you’re the Treasurer. And that was my job before you joined the committee. And really, you should not make me Treasurer. So I did my best for a few years as Treasurer, but I’m very happy that Susie joined. She is our Treasurer. So Susie, not necessarily Treasurer specific. But how did you get here in respect to your Kodály journey.


Susie Fredline
I had a really strange journey towards Kodály because when I was in primary school, I was at a school that had the first ever music teacher in Queensland.


Debbie
Whoa, and where was that?


Susie Fredline
At Corinda State School, she ran an amazing choir and I just loved it. I just loved it. And at the same time, we ran one of the first instrumental music programs in the state. So when I was in grade four, they decided to give instrumental music ago and I learned the flute, with not much facility, but it got me on that journey into music. Do you know what I mean?

And when I was older, and I decided that I needed a career, I imagined myself to be an early childhood teacher. So I went to Teachers College, to learn to be an early childhood teacher. And after my first crack, I went home to my mother and said, Oh, I don’t think this is for me. And she went, you know, road, travel will take you somewhere, just keep going until you find something else.

At the end of that year, I was approached by one of the lecturers in music, because in those days, we did music all year as part of our Diploma of Teaching. One of the lecturers came and saw me and said, we are doing a music course. A specialisation starting next year, it’s the first time we’re ever going to do it. We would like you to audition and I went Oh. And my first prac was like coming home, I was with Phil Luke at Graceville State School.


Debbie
Wow.


Susie Fredline
It was the most amazing thing. I thought, this is where I belong. And then when I got my first job, another right place at right time moment, ten week music course run by Education Queensland, Department of Education in those days. Ten week music course with Anne Comiskey, it was brilliant. And I’ve just continued ever since then, went and did my AKC levels when I moved down to Toowoomba, just kept on learning, kept on doing it. And it’s amazing. Right place right time.


Debbie
Wow. You stumbled across some amazing people and places.


Susie Fredline
My whole life rural education was my absolute joy. Mt Isa, Blackall, Longreach, Birdsville, Bedourie, Jundah, Stonehenge, Winton, Isisford, Ilfracombe, Yaraka, Cooktown, Rossville, Lakeland, Laura, Wujal Wujal, Aboriginal communities, rural communities. Amazing, amazing what you learn when you go outside of your comfort zone. I was, I’ve been blessed.


Debbie
Wow, (sings) you’ve been everywhere man. Wow, yeah. No wonder you’re such an interesting person to be around Susie.


Susie Fredline
Thank you, I’ll take that compliment and put it in my backpack.


Debbie
You do that. Tell me and all of our listeners, why should they bother to be involved in professional associations. Now, of course, we’re talking Kodály, because that’s us. We’re here, the Kodály committee. But for you, it could be your Orff Association, or Dalcroze, or ASME, there’s many professional associations that might call to you. But why should people bother?


Susie Fredline
I got involved in the first place because I wanted to advocate for rural education. I wanted to advocate for those kids that I taught flute to over the phone, that I taught recorder to over the phone, that I did talk to over two way radio, they deserve just as much as the people in the cities. So I thought, how can I affect change.

And you can only do that through a professional association. My first foray into Kodály committees was with the National Committee. I did the Treasurer role with the National Committee for eight years, because that was in the Constitution, you can’t do any more than eight years. I’m still doing their payments, their day to day payments, because I think that overarching power of the amount of members you have in that National Committee is really, really important.

I came on to the Queensland committee, because you asked me at national conference. And I went, I can do that. And in the back of my head, I was thinking, this is where we affect change. This is where we affect change in the state in which I teach. This is where we do the outreach, and we get the people in, and this is where I can talk to people and say, Do you have a love of music? Do you have a teaching degree? Come and get trained and take on a music teaching role?

Oh, but I don’t have my AMusA and seven instruments. You don’t need your AmusA and seven instruments, you need to have an innate musicality and a desire to learn how to connect with children. And if you can connect with children already, half the battle is done. So I joined the Queensland committee, not only to help you out, because I just love you so much. But because this is where we affect change. This is where we make things happen.


Debbie
And we really have having you on committee, you can correct me if I’m wrong, committee that’s sitting off camera, our first remote member of committee, have we done this before? Because Susie doesn’t live in Brisbane with us. So she lives, how far away? A 12 hour drive away. So our Treasurer is 12 hours away, but it works. And when we can get her in person it’s magic.

But you’re living in that rural sort of setting. You’re helping us as a committee to do things like have that satellite workshop that we had in Mackay recently, and in Cairns and in Townsville. So the state committee can help make that happen. And you’re part of that and we love having you.


Susie Fredline
I love being a part of it.


Debbie
Thank you, Susie. And now I’m joined by the lovely Heather Francis. Heather is a general committee member, like I am. Wearing her fabulous crab brooch, I do love that. When you get to see the video version you’ll love the brooch. Now, Heather, tell us about your journey to Kodály music education.


Heather Francis’ Start in Kodály

Heather Francis
Okay, so I guess the very first part of it was that I had a mother that sang to me. That’s the very, very beginning. And then the next bit might sound a bit familiar. So I was at a school where we had the first music teacher who had had an amazing choir and then we had instrumental music and I started to learn the flute.


Debbie
Hold on.


Heather Francis
Yes, I went to school with Suzy Fredline. And, in fact, we grew up together. She lived behind my house. So we actually grew up together, which is amazing, which is so nice for her to be on committee with me.


Debbie
And you sing together don’t you still?


Heather Francis
When we can, yes. Whenever we’ve got a choir project, we stand next to each other. And so yeah, so I learnt the flute and I was learning the piano and I decided that I loved the flute so I went to audition to go to the Conservatorium as a flute player, so I got into the diploma course there. Then I decided after two years that the only job I could do being a flute player, because there were 10 other flute players graduating the same year that I was going to graduate, was to be an instrumental teacher.

And I thought I don’t want to be an instrumental teacher. Oh, but I do like singing in choirs. And I had such a great music teacher, I should be a primary school music teacher. So I changed courses to the degree course at The Con, and graduated as A Bachelor of Music Education.

And so that’s how I sort of got there and got my first job, my husband, we got married a year before I finished, my husband got a job in Cleveland. So I said, oh, we need a job somewhere near Cleveland. So I got a job at Rochdale Primary.


Debbie
And have you been working in primary schools ever since then, basically?


Heather Francis
Yes. So I fell pregnant, and then left Rochedale and then went to another school, I went to Cleveland, near where we were living. And then I had another baby, and then I kind of, it all lost the plot for me when contact time came in, I found that transition very tricky having little ones at home. So I don’t want to be a teacher anymore.

So then I did a bit of flute teaching. But then, yeah, after a while, when all my kids were at school, I came back to primary music. And I did two different jobs. I did flute teaching in a school, and then primary music at a school for 16 years until I couldn’t do two jobs anymore, then I’m just in one school now.


Debbie
For those of you who don’t know, that when noncontact time came in, when we first started teaching primary schools.


Heather Francis
In the olden days.


Debbie
The teachers used to have to bring their kids and sit in the class with them. And look, sometimes I didn’t particularly like that, because some of them would get a little, they’d impose their own behaviour management on my class. Like we were playing a game having a really good time, and something that I would let go, because I’m the music teacher and they’re having fun. They would squash. And I would think no, please don’t. And I was too young to correct them.

So sometimes having them in the room wasn’t good. But other times they did help, I guess, with the behaviour managment, then suddenly it switched to primary teachers need time off class. So we became the non contact providers, which, again, double edged sword, it sort of saved our jobs, because they needed us.

But it meant that we were seen as less important because they didn’t see what we did. Like those good teachers that were there they were supposed to follow up in the classroom. So you could teach them a great song or a rhyme. The next week, they’d come back and they’d know it. Because they’ve practiced it, they’ve played the games, we helped give that joy back to the classrooms. But now all of a sudden, it was drop off at the door. If they make it that far. Sometimes they just send them up. So that noncontact thing was a big shift with our profession I think.


Heather Francis
For me, it wasn’t.


Debbie
I can’t blame you. Alright, so we’re gonna get to your question, which is, why should we bother with being part of a professional association at all?


Heather Francis
So I think it’s really important to get to give back and the Kodály Queensland committee just runs amazing events or Kodály music in general, run amazing events. And I think it’s just a way of helping out and but giving back to new teachers, people retraining, and we’re all just really good friends. It’s just fun.


Debbie
It is fun. And I do like that we can access people that you can’t by yourself.


Heather Francis
Oh, definitely.


Debbie
So at the time of recording this, we’re in the middle of the amazing Lucinda Geoghegan couple of days. Now, if this was just Heather sitting in her school and Debbie sitting in her school, we couldn’t go oh, I just feel like having two days with an amazing Scottish educator. But whereas a professional association has that power to do that doesn’t it.


Heather Francis
Yes, definitely.


Debbie
We love having you on the committee Heather.


Heather Francis
Thank you.


Debbie
Thank you Heather. And I’m now joined by one of the Cathy’s we have two Cathy’s on our committee, Cathy with a C and Kathy with a K, you’ll be hearing from soon. So this is Cathy with a C. Cathy, I would love to hear about how you came to Kodály music education.


Introducing Cathy Cheel & How She Started with Kodály

Cathy Cheel
Well, my story’s a little different from the others in that I was educated in South Africa. Most of what we did in our training, besides primary teaching training was Orff based. And so Kodály wasn’t very big in South Africa, it was mainly Orff.

So when I began teaching, at the age of 20, taught grade three, so didn’t teach any music for a little while until we were meant to teach our own specialist lessons and we divided them up in our year group, so one person would teach all the PE, one person would teach the music and the art.

And I ended up teaching the music. Mainly because when I grew up, I was always in the theater. My parents put me in theater at a young age when my grade three teacher discovered I could sing in the choir, gave me all the solos. And so my parents put me into music lessons, and I did all my grades in singing, I went to Licentiate, I was in all the shows, the local shows, and the theater.

And even when I was training at uni, I went and did shows in the theaters, and so yeah, I had a love of music from the beginning and a fair bit of training. Then I guess just once I could teach music at school, I taught until I had my baby, my first baby. And then I started my own music school. And my music school was Orff based for age four to five. So it was kindies, and parents would bring their children to Little Musicians.

And the children would all have a 45 minute lesson, on a little cushion each, and I had eventually built up the school to about 60. And then a new school was opening up and asked me to be their music teacher, the first music teacher, so I taught in a barn, with power. It didn’t look like a barn, they’d done it up nicely. Yeah, it was lovely.

I wrote a musical for them and then we emigrated to Australia. And so we went to Canberra, just to find work. I ended up teaching at Canberra Grammar and Canberra Grammar were really big on music. And they had a little north side school and a south side school and then the high school. And they used to fly Judith Johnson in for a weekend to give us PD, just our school.


Debbie
Wow.


Cathy Cheel
PD with Judith and suddenly Judith arrived, and I just fell in love with Kodály and I though I wish I could live in Queensland so I could study under her. So guess what I did?


Debbie
Let me guess.


Cathy Cheel
I moved to Queensland. And I studied under Judy, she was lovely. And I went to UQ. In the year I had a third baby and fell asleep often at the computer doing assignments. But um, yeah, it was just amazing. And from then on, I think I’ve been teaching now for 38 years. And this has been the best time in my life teaching Kodály and I love coming to workshops and conferences, because I just love learning new ideas that I can implement in the classroom. So I think until I retire, I’ll be a Kodály advocate.


Debbie
Yes, and stay on the committee, and help us do all the work. I love it. So you’ve sort of already alluded to this. But your question is about how your involvement impacts your work. Obviously, we know it impacts others greatly. How does it impact you in your work? Being part of the committee?


Cathy Cheel
Well, when I was asked to be on the committee, I think I was involved in a community choir with my friend Alisen. And I had found that that already impacted my life doing something new, always teaches you about yourself and improves your learning.

I was a little bit insecure about joining because I thought oh, these people are so, they set the bar so high, and how will I ever reach it but being on the committee and everyone being so lovely has actually, I think raised the bar for me and my teaching. It’s helped me to expect more and to challenge myself more, and then also to give to others when I can.

So I guess I originally found it pretty humbling. And I still do. Besides wanting to help others and see other teachers come to know more about Kodály and improve their teaching. I guess it’s also been great for me in my personal development, and my professional development and my social development.


Debbie
That’s great, well we love having you on the committee. But it is amazing the growing that you can do within yourself, as well as your profession. Thank you, Cathy.


Sign-Off

I appreciate you and all of my colleagues, and hope this episode has been enjoyable and useful. Don’t forget you’ll find the show notes on crescendo.com.au. I’d love a share, rate or review to help other music educators find this podcast. All I can be is the best version of me. All you can do is be the best you. Until next time, bye.


Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieve stress, don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

You know it just doesn’t matter how much you push that envelope, it still be stationary.

I like that one.


Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Kodály Queensland

Where to find me:

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