The Kodály Center

The Kodály Center offers training and resources for teachers, conductors, parents, and others interested in the musical development of children. Students from throughout the world come to the Center – located on the campus of Holy Names University in Oakland, California – to develop their musicianship and learn how to apply the philosophy of Zoltán Kodály in choral and classroom settings.

Founded in 1969 by Sr. Mary Alice Hein, the Kodály Center has received support from the Ford Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The Center enjoys an international reputation as one of the major centers for Kodály music education in North America. Graduates of the program teach throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Peru, Brazil, and the Philippines.

The Kodály Center offers seminars and introductory classes, summer courses for professional development, and academic year certificate and degree programs for musicians and music educators. The master’s degree program includes courses in solfège and musicianship, choral conducting, and choral singing taught by Hungarian faculty. Supervised student teaching placements in neighboring public schools are provided.

An integrated and practical curriculum, a supportive atmosphere, and a high standard of excellence are hallmarks of the Center’s programs. Generous funding by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation enables the Kodály Center for Music Education to award fellowships to qualified students.

History of the Folk Song Collection

This collection grew out of a 1966 meeting between the prominent Hungarian composer and music educator, Zoltán Kodály and Sr. Mary Alice Hein, a professor of music at Holy Names University (HNU). Kodály’s radically democratic vision – his belief that music, an essential language for knowing oneself and the world, should be the birthright of every human being – impressed Sr. Mary Alice. Soon, she set out to make Holy Names University a center for Kodály education in the United States.

Recognizing the Kodály principle that children become connected to their communities and the wider world by hearing and singing the traditional folk songs of their own culture, Sr. Mary Alice, who was later joined by archivist Eleanor G. (Toni) Locke, began guiding a generation of HNU faculty members and students in seeking and transcribing, from print and recorded sources, the most beautiful and representative songs from the American folk tradition.

In 1984, the Holy Names University Collection of American Folk Songs for Teaching was recognized as a folk song archive by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. The collection provided the basis for the online American Folk Song Collection. To read more about the creation of the online collection, see About the Site.