The Szilvay Foundation
Colourstrings was the first to offer music education from a very young age in the UK and is the only approach that can be used all the way up to conservatoire level. In Finland it has been a core part of the state music education for more than thirty years and is now an internationally respected way of teaching music to children. Many local education authorities in Britain are now introducing Colourstrings into their schools.
Colourstrings is child-centred. The materials are colourful, stimulating and entice children to embark on musical adventures that will enable each of them to fulfil their musical potential through fun and creativity, without pressure. It is an extension of the Kodály philosophy: everything starts with singing to develop inner hearing. Central to the approach is the role of play and imagination – often the value of play can be overlooked in the rush to get on with the ‘real’ lesson.
Classes start at 18 months and involve most of the senses, taking the children on a musical journey. The children relish having fun, singing, clapping, marching, and socialising, without realising that the songs used in the kindergarten classes have been carefully composed to explore the different musical concepts - rhythm, pitch, melody, dynamics, tempo, character, form and style - in an enjoyable and stimulating but structured way.
All of this ultimately leads to an intrinsic understanding and love of music. By the age of 5 or 6, children are learning to sight sing, along with the basics of reading and writing stick notation. It is at this stage that they can choose an instrument to learn.
Instead of this being a daunting prospect, children are reassured to find the same melodies that they are familiar with reappearing in their instrumental lessons. This gives them a vital confidence and feeling of success from the very first time they pick up an instrument.
From the first instrumental lesson, children are encouraged to perform, compose and improvise while also reading and writing musical notation.
The Szilvay Foundation is a charity set up to promote the Colourstrings approach and provide teacher training. It has been training teachers in this country for over 20 years, and has educated thousands of children. The charity also runs projects in private and state schools throughout the UK and Ireland and provides INSET training.