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10 Books that Every Kodaly Teacher Should Have on Their Bookshelf

I have frequently been asked and I have seen similar questions posted on Kodaly and Music Ed Facebook groups. "I am interested in learning more about Kodaly. What book resources should I get?" So I thought I would compile a list of ten of my personal favorites. 

Now, if you know anything about Kodaly teachers, we really are hoarders when it comes to resources. You can absolutely never have too many. Some books might have great pedagogical ideas, sequences, song lists, or folk songs. Some folk songs might have additional verses in other books or they might be a variant (did anyone else have to go collect variants in their levels??)

Now, let's be clear on what I am NOT saying. I am NOT telling you that you need to rush out and buy these 10 books if they are not currently on your bookshelf. I am not telling you that these are the top 10 in all of Kodaly world. I am not saying that there are not even better resources out there. I am not telling you that these will replace Kodaly training. Absolutely nothing will. But if you...

A) want to learn more about the Kodaly concept
B) have taken or are in levels and want to see what books other Kodaly teachers are using
or C) are in a Kodaly resource book addicts' club (hellllloooo, you are my people!)

then this post is for you!

SO, in no particular order:

This was so valuable to me when I was going through my Kodaly training before I had made my own yearly plans. It lays out month by month for each grade level what you should be preparing, presenting ,and practicing and includes song suggestions and practice activities. It is meant to be a companion to the American Methodology, so if you get this, I strongly recommend that you also own the American Methodology.

Lovingly referred to as the "150". This book was a required text when I was in level 1 and it is such a great resource for finding folk songs. It organizes them by tone set, which makes it really easy to find songs when you are working on specific concepts.

The "155" is a collection of EVEN MORE folk songs, because, let's be honest, we can never have too many. Like the 150, this one is organized by tone set.

4) ANYTHING by the New England Dance Masters (a few of my favorites are Chimes of Dunkirk and Sashay the Donut)

When I started at my school I was told that they had a tradition of a folk dancing night and that each grade level was to perform a dance on stage. At the time, I hadn't been exposed to much folk dancing, but through Kodaly, our community folk dances at KMEA, and various workshops I have not only come to really enjoy it, but feel comfortable and confident teaching them to my students. Definitely get these books with the CDs and if you can, the DVDs when available. I LOVE watching Peter and Mary Alice Amidon teach the dances. The break it down into steps and a pay really close attention to the little details that really help students be successful in learning them without feeling frustrated.

 5) Lullabies to Circle Games by Jo Kirk (I have not found a place to order this online, but if you are interested in it, you can reach Jo Kirk on her website)

This has tons of fingerplays, lullabies, and songs for children from before birth through elementary school age. I strongly recommend this book for parents and those who might teach early childhood or preschool music classes, but there are things I pull from it for K/1/2 still.

What I love about this is it gives me information about what I can DO with the songs (the singing game or the play party) which maybe I hadn't previously been aware of. 

 7) The Song Garden (Book 1, 2, 3) by Carol Heath - I believe these are out of print. I couldn't find them on Amazon or Ebay when I looked, but they are a treasure trove. Unfortunately, these three are just collections of songs. There is a book that goes with these that tells what you do with each song and how to teach it, but I don't have my hands on it... yet.


This was basically our bible in level 3, and that's where I really learned how to utilize it and what the breakdown of physical/aural/visual looked like and countless activities for each during each concept. It also included a variety of ways to practice each concept that are really helpful to me when lesson planning.

This book was so incredibly helpful to me after level 1 when I was starting at a new school and trying to implement the Kodaly method which was new for all of my students. This book has a section specifically for older beginners and it has some really great song lists.

I love both Book 1 and Book 2 from Susan Brumfield. She was at KMEA and I got to see her present this past year. The books come with CDs that include her students singing the songs and are great models for your students. These recordings are perfect to leave when you have a sub and the students already know the game but that vocal model can help them to sing in an appropriate range while you are away. I like that a lot of the songs in these books were new to me and there are some nice multicultural pieces in them.

BONUS 11) Anything by Jill Trinka - I would be remiss if I did not mention Jill Trinka's song collections. They include a huge variety of folk songs and singing games and are definitely worth the purchase!

So what are YOUR go to books in your collection? I'd love to hear!


  1. I would add the John Feierabend "Book of....." series.

    1. Absolutely! I love those and have his whole "First Steps" set. So great for preschool and early elementary.

  2. "are in a Kodaly resource book addicts' club" -- LOL!!! I love that so much!!! I spent way too much money last year buying myself resource books!

    I would add:
    1) Rita Klinger's Lesson Planning guide, which you can buy from the OAKE website
    2) Lamar Robertson + Ann Eisen's Directions to Literacy: Teaching the Older Beginner. It does overlap a tiny bit with American Methodology but there are still new songs.
    3) the new Tacka/Houlahan handbooks for each grade!
    4) Jill Trinka's song books and CDs!

    1. Absolutely yes to all of these! I haven't checked out #1 on your list, so now I have a new one to hunt down! Thank you!

  3. Joy Nelson's Music in Kindergarten is also an excellent resource.

  4. Amazing source. Thank you a lot. I also suggest you to get acquainted with this information.

  5. Are The Song Garden books arranged by age? I was wondering if the first book is more appropriate for K/1.