The Kodály concept (or method) is an approach to music education developed by Hungarian composer and educator Zoltan Kodaly during the mid-twentieth century.  Teachers using Sibelius to create teaching resources for Kodály lessons need to know a unique set of skills, so I’ve chosen a few of my favourite Kodaly-related Sibelius “tricks” and explained them below.

Stick notation


The Kodály method frequently uses stick notation – that is, rhythms written without noteheads (except for minims and semibreves).

In Sibelius:

1. Start a new score with a treble staff

2. Input notes in one bar.  Because this is a rhythmic example, I just used the A space

3. Remove (hide) the stave lines:

a) In Sibelius 5 and 6: go to Create > Other > Instrument Change. In the Choose from box, select All Instruments; in Family select Others and in the Instrument list, scroll down to No instrument (barlines shown). Uncheck the Add clef and Announce at last note of previous instrument boxes and click OK

b) In Sibelius 7: Go to Home > Instruments > Change and type No instrument into the Find box at the top of the window.  Choose No instrument (barlines shown) from the list that appears.  Uncheck the Add clef and Announce at last note of previous instrument boxes and click OK

4. Click in the score just to the left of the treble clef to make the change.  You may some residual stave lines and a blue vertical box which indicates the position of the instrument change.  You can drag the blue box to the left of the treble clef to make the stave lines disappear completely.

5. Remove the noteheads

a) In Sibelius 5 and 6: select the bar (or multiple bars) containing the notes you want to change.  Go to Window > Properties and click on the Notes tab.  Select Notehead 25 from the drop-down menu

b) In Sibelius 7: select the bar (or multiple bars) containing the notes you want to change.  Go to Notations tab > Noteheads and click on Type.  Select the Stick Notation notehead in the “special” section

c) Both versions: once the bar/s is selected, you can also use the shortcut Alt+Shift+25 (Opt.+Shift+25 on Mac) to change the noteheads

Rhythm syllables

You can include rhythm syllables (syllables that express the duration of a note value) with the stick notation by writing them in as lyrics in Sibelius.

In Sibelius

1. Create the stick notation first

2. Select the first note and press Ctrl+L (Command+L on Mac).  A cursor will appear under the note

3. Type in the rhythm syllables.  Press space at the end of each word and hyphen between syllables such as ti-ti

Zaa

The rhythm syllable for a rest is known as Zaa and it looks like a capital Z.  Sibelius doesn’t have a ready-made Zaa, but it’s fairly straightforward to make one.  The technique involves creating a regular rest and then hiding it so that you can place a large Z over the top.

In Sibelius:

1. Create your song with a normal crotchet rest

2. Hide the rest by right-clicking on it and choosing Hide or Show > Hide

3. Press Escape

4. Find an empty space on your score, right-click and choose Text > Other staff text > Plain text. You mouse pointer will turn blue.  Click on the stave where the crotchet rest was and type the letter Z on the stave (don’t worry about the size or position at this stage)

5. Press Escape once (the Z should be still selected – blue)

6. Change the font style and size

a) Sibelius 5 and 6: go to Window > Properties and click on the Text tab.  Change the font to Arial and increase the font size (to around 15)

b) Sibelius 7: click on the Text tab.  Using the Format settings on the left side, change the font to Arial and increase the font size (to around 15)

8. Fine-tune the position of the Z with the arrow keys

2-taa time signature

Kodály teachers often introduce young students to time signatures by replacing the bottom number of the time signature with the rhythmic value it represents.  So a 2/4 time signature would look like the image on the right and is known as a “2-ta” time signature.  To recreate this in Sibelius, you can create the regular time signature, hide it and then place a “fake” 2-ta time signature over the top.

In Sibelius:

1. Setup your score with a regular time signature.  We will end up hiding this time signature and placing a “fake” one over the top

2. Hide the time signature by right-clicking on it and choosing Hide or Show > Hide

3. We’ll create the “fake” 2-ta time signature in two steps. Here’s the first step:

a) Step 1 Sibelius 5 and 6: create the top number (a two in my example) by going to Create > Text > Other Staff Text > Time signatures (one staff only).  Click at the beginning of the stave (don’t worry that the cursor is huge!) and type the number two.  Press Escape.

b) Step 1 Sibelius 7: create the top number (a two in my example) by selecting the Text tab and then clicking on Styles.  Scroll down to Time Signatures Special and choose Time signatures (one staff only).  Click at the beginning of the stave (don’t worry that the cursor is huge!) and type the number two.  Press Escape.

4. “Fake” time signature step 2: Open the Symbols menu by pressing Z.  Select the crotchet with the downward pointing stem from the Notes section of the menu and click OK. Click in the score, just below the number two you created

Sibelius 6 and 7 users please note: the Magnetic Layout feature will prevent you from placing the crotchet close to the number 2.  Turn Magnetic Layout off for this object in your score by right-clicking on the crotchet and going to Magnetic Layout > Off

You can fine-tune the position of the number two and the crotchet by using the arrow keys.

Solfege

The Kodály method makes use of moveable do solfege.  If you’d like to add the solfege syllables to a melodic score, Sibelius can create them for you automatically – either  below the stave, or if you have lyrics in your score, above the stave.  The example below describes the process for adding solfege above the stave in a score with lyrics.

In Sibelius:

1. Start a new score (treble staff)

2. Input the notes of the melody

3. Enter the song lyrics by selecting the first note and press Ctrl+L (Command+L on Mac).  Type lyrics with a space between words or a hyphen between syllables

4. To add the solfege select all bars that contain the melody (click on first bar and shift-click on last bar) and then go to Plugins > Text > Add Tonic Solfa (Sibelius 5 and 6) or Text tab > Plugins > Add Tonic Sol-fa.  For sol-fa that appears above the stave, click on the drop-down box next to Main Text Style and choose Lyrics above staff (check the other settings as well.  I like to uncheck the option to Add Rhythmic Markings).  Click OK.

Sibelius will add the solfege and also create a box that contains information about the key (ie. doh is C).  You can move this box if necessary by dragging it with the mouse, or by using the arrow keys.

More Sibelius Tips and Free Downloadable Resources

The Quick Guide To Sibelius Note Entry (free download)

Best Time-Saving Sibelius Shortcuts (free download)

How To Use The Sibelius Ideas Panel (free download)

There are more Sibelius how-to articles listed on the Free Tutorials and Articles page.

Sibelius training for Music Teachers (from basics to advanced!)

If you’d like to learn more about using Sibelius quickly and effectively, I offer a range of online courses and face-to-face workshops:

Online courses (available as “live” courses, or as a Replay Pass)

Sibelius Basics

Sibelius Advanced

Speedy Arranging with Sibelius

Sibelius Projects for Students

Face-to-Face Workshops (Australia)

For more information about face-to-face Sibelius training, visit the training information page, or check the upcoming events list.