Charlotte Mason Music Thoughts (1)



I will confess that I am a music nerd.  I was homeschooled and participated in private Suzuki strings from the time I was 5 to when I was 10 and my parents allowed me to quit cello to take piano lessons.  I loved to practice and eventually taught myself to play several other instruments.  Majored in music education, LOVED my music history and theory classes, taught piano lessons and public school general music and choir, and all around pretty much breathed music and music ed. 

My first experience with solfege or sol-fa was in my college sight singing classes. With my piano background, I had no trouble learning the system and excelling in the class.  I eventually was the student director to our university children's chorale which was heavily influenced in Kodaly.  Hearing the children warm up with solfege exercises and sight sing harmonies using only hand gestures was fascinating to me and I loved learning more through Kodaly workshops and clinics! 

Fast forward to becoming a homeschool mom....... I have been sucked into the website archive.org and researching all the music education methods used during the time of Charlotte Mason!  It is FASCINATING! For those of you with little knowledge of music education, I will give a short and sweet timeline of the highlights through the age of this branch of music ed!

  • 9th and 10th centuries:  Monks began to write notation for Gregorian Chants.  Guido d'Arezzo developed a system for a diatonic scale. (The precursor to "do re mi fa so....") Aimé Paris (1798–1866) developed the Galin-Paris-Chevé system of counting rhythms. (Similar to the "ta ta titi ta" that a lot of us grew up with!)
  • Sarah Ann Glover (1785 – 1867) developed a sol-fa method (sol-fa or solfege is the name for the "do re mi fa.... system.)
  • Reverend John Curwen (1816–1880) borrowed the ideas of Paris and Glover to create the teacher manual for Tonic Sol-fa
  • Zoltán Kodály (1882 – 1967) borrowed the Curwen method with Jeno Adam to create a music education system for children in Hungary.
  • Katinka Scipiades Daniel (1913 – 2010) Studied with Jeno Adam and brought the Kodaly system to the USA where it has flourished and grown internationally!

Since the Kodaly system is tried and true in modern music education, I personally feel like an authentic Charlotte Mason music education can be taught using the modern Kodaly method that has been passed down through the last several decades by wonderful music education instructors such as Sister Lorna Zemke, Jill Trinka, John Feierabend, and others.

Charlotte Mason wrote about the sol-fa system in her Volumes and there are articles referenced on the Ambleside Online site.  I encourage you to go and read for yourself here and here.  Also, there is an article/book review on the Afterthoughts blog here that gives another personal look into what Miss Mason may have implemented in her classes.  In the first link to the Ambleside website, it is mentioned that the method used by the PNEU schools was similar to what our modern day Kodaly lessons may look like.


I think the first question we should ask ourselves when teaching music to our kids is "Why?!"  There is a great article from the PNEU on Miss Mason's website that you can read here:


This is a great introduction for us as homeschool moms to simplify this subject in three elemental parts!  In my next post you can read here, I've given a little bit more information on how melody was taught and what was expected in some forms.  Read part 2 here!


If you would like to read some of the old texts, here are the archive.org links:


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