Daily Singing to be Introduced in Hungarian Schools?
Fanni Kaszás 2019.09.26.
Similarly to the daily physical education lessons, daily music lessons may also be introduced in Hungarian schools. According to the information of pro-government Magyar Nemzet, the dialogue on daily school singing has been revived in order to give music education a more prominent role in student life in the future. In addition, the Hungarian State Opera has compiled a sample of the most popular opera pieces, which would be available for all schools free of charge, and efforts are being made to extend the scope of daily singing and music to the curriculum through a renewed curriculum regulation as well.
The idea of introducing daily music lessons first came to light four years ago under the leadership of former head of the ministry of human resources, Zoltán Balog. Back then, a committee for the introduction of daily singing, the Mindennapos Éneklés Bizottsága (Daily Singing Committee) was formed. The aim was, among other things, to reinforce school choirs, while in 2017 there was a discussion about the purchase of musical instruments for schools, and even a scholarship for vocal and music teachers before the dialogue on daily music lessons ceased.
Last week, however, the subject was raised again at a professional conference at the Erkel Theater. Szilveszter Ókovács, General Director of the Hungarian State Opera, told Magyar Nemzet that their training leader, István Kákay, has edited a workbook including a selection of the most popular opera and ballet pieces, which can be obtained free of charge by all schools and can be a great help in organizing daily singing lessons of high standard.
Ókovács explained the workbook at the conference: “We collected a total of 222 pieces in the edition, a kind of breviary [liturgical book], so one for each school day. These are simple, popular, melodic, lovable pieces that can be embedded in school material and used by any teacher, not just a music teacher. It takes only 10-15 minutes to process and learn each piece, to provide a sense of success, and to entertain, so hopefully it will arouse children’s interest in classical music.”
He added that the book has received nearly a hundred professional opinions and some schools have already started using a so-called pilot version, but according to plans, it will only be available to other institutions from January. There are some schools which have already introduced daily singing, even in the form of a couple of minutes of music before the start and end of the school day. Katalin Skripek, principal of Szőnyi István Primary School, told Magyar Nemzet that their “students arrive at school ten minutes before eight o’clock, and then we have a few minutes of singing.” At the end of the day, students “are listening to music, for example, poems set to music.”
According to the newspaper, many neuro-scientists and psychologists, such as Tamás Freund and Valéria Csépe, have already pointed out that the more children engage in artistic and musical activities, the easier it is to acquire lexical knowledge for them. According to Freund, the catharsis of art improves students’ receptive abilities, while Csépe points out that playing instruments also leads to detectable structural changes in the brain.