Sibelius Tips for Kodály Teachers

Sibelius Tips for Kodály Teachers

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.

By | 2017-02-23T15:19:39+00:00 August 22nd, 2011|How-To and Tips, Music Tech Tips|23 Comments

About the Author:

I love to simplify technology for music teachers. I help teachers from all around the world through the Midnight Music Community – an online professional development community where teachers can take online courses, ask questions and receive personalised help for the music tech goals.

23 Comments

  1. greg September 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    thank you very much for that.

  2. Sally Byron September 21, 2011 at 5:13 am - Reply

    thankyou, very helpful

  3. Rebecca October 14, 2011 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Brilliant, thank you!

  4. Celeste October 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    I really enjoy this article…thanks!

  5. Laurence May 11, 2012 at 7:59 am - Reply

    I had never heard about the Magnetic Layout! All your articles alway have one little thing that I can use! Practical at its best! Thank you.

    • Katie May 11, 2012 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Thanks Laurence – glad you find them useful 🙂

  6. Chris Brown October 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Katie, along these lines of the Kodaly notation, when music educators are creating what has become known as “Master Copies” with just the stick notation, solfege syllables and the lyrics do you know of an EASY way to align the measures of each system to match its neighbor above and below??
    Thanks!

    • Katie October 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Chris,

      The closest solution might be to give your score a uniform layout of – say – 4 measures per system. You can ask Sibelius to do that for you automatically in the Auto Breaks dialogue (Layout > Auto Breaks). Select the Auto System breaks option at top right and then set the number of bars per line. It may not fix the problem altogether because Sibelius will still allow more room for a bar that is full of semiquavers, compared to one that has only crotchets. I guess if you had a similar rhythm in all the bars in each “column” it would end up lining up OK!

      Katie

  7. web page December 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm - Reply

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    Ӏ’d like to find out more details.

  8. Nancy February 19, 2013 at 1:09 am - Reply

    I am searching for Sibelius 7 Music Software Online Course and found this :

    http://www.wiziq.com/course/3200-master-sibelius-7-software

    Please confirm me whether this will help me OR not. Your comments will surely help me a lot.

  9. Destiny July 23, 2013 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Your instructions are almost usable for Sibelius 3–with the caveat that the note type to select is #7 (shows blank). I didn’t test the solfege yet. (I’m actually not Kodály-trained, just using anything I can find from the method for the one piano student I’ve been asked to teach; I’m really a math tutor!)

  10. Bojan Cv August 7, 2013 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Thank You very much for this tip.
    Is there any software that supports writting solfa in more than voice. With stick notation.

    • Katie August 20, 2013 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Hi Bojan,

      You can do that in Sibelius – you would just write each voice on a separate stave. You can also write two voices on one stave – each with independently rhythmic parts. – Katie

  11. Chris Rogers January 5, 2014 at 6:21 am - Reply

    I want to create a Kodaly key signature with the sharps or flats put in different places. An example would be a key sig of one sharp with the sharp in the bottom space rather than the top line. Is this possible?

    • Katie January 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Hello Chris – yes, you could do that simply by using the sharps and flats from the Symbols menu (press Z to access Symbols). Just select sharp or flat and drag it into the position you want. They won’t behave like normal sharps and flats though – they won’t affect the pitch of a note, or the spacing in your score so you might need to make a few adjustments “manually”.

  12. joel ford July 23, 2014 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    So far as I can tell, the only way I’ve been able to line up notes for a master copy using Sibelius is to adjust the X position of a note using the inspector. This is pretty tedious, but it works. I’ll keep digging…

  13. joel ford July 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Alright, I found a strange workaround. Make a bunch of 16th notes (or 32nd notes) in another voice (voice 4) and hide them. This evenly spaces all the bars. You’ll have to do a little dragging around to make the bars right. It also gets wonky with pickup notes and bars and such, but it makes things much more uniform.

  14. Janelle October 20, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    Thank you Katie. As a Kodály teacher, this information will be incredibly useful. Thanks!

    • Katie November 5, 2015 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome Janelle!

  15. Music Curriculum | Pearltrees May 27, 2016 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    […] Sibelius Tips for Kodaly Teachers | Midnight Music. 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. […]

  16. Jill March 6, 2017 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Just did these examples to get a feel for the process. Thanks for providing clear steps to success!

    • Katie March 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm - Reply

      I’m happy to hear they worked Jill 🙂 Hope you’re well!

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