Music As A Language eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 62 pages of information about Music As A Language.

Now, in teaching staff notation it is neither wise nor necessary to introduce extended modulations very early.  The aim is to make it possible for children to sing fairly easy melodies in all keys, major and minor, with incidental modulations, as soon as possible—­then to revise the work, introducing more difficult modulations.  This end will be attained by deferring the use of bridge-notes until the children are ready to sing melodies in the minor keys which modulate to the relative major.  If the above-mentioned plan for the treatment of the minor key be adopted, bridge-notes will be essential at this stage, and the melodies, at any rate at first, cannot be sung without their aid.  A further reference to this matter is given in the chapter on the teaching of sight-singing.



The form of these lessons will vary slightly according to the ages of the children.  We will suppose these to lie between seven and nine years, when the children can read and write.

At the first lesson the scale of C major should be played, from middle C to high C, ascending only.  Then repeat middle C, and stop on it a little.  Do this three or four times, telling the children to count the notes as you play up the scale.  When they are all sure that eight notes have been played, ask them why they think you repeated the middle C at the end.  They will probably say:  ‘To make it sound finished.’  In other words, they have grasped the ‘mental effect’ of the key-note in every key, the pivot round which the other notes revolve.  Give the hand sign for this note, according to the Sol-fa plan, and tell the children that the note is called doh.  Now repeat the scale, but this time play it from high C to middle C, repeating the high C at the end.  The children will see at once what has happened, and that the high C now ‘finishes’ the passage.  Thus it will be called ‘high doh’, and the hand sign will be repeated, but at a higher level.  Be careful not to bend the hand at the wrist when giving this sign, or the effect of finality and repose will be lost.

At the second lesson, repeat this work, the children telling you what to do.  Then make eight large dots on the blackboard, and against the first and eighth of these write doh and doh’.  Now play the first five notes of the scale, and repeat the first as before.  Ask how many notes were played.  Then play them again, but starting from the fifth downwards, and repeat the fifth at the end.  Ask the children why they think you did this.  At first they will not be able to express what they feel, but gradually the idea will emerge that you want to call attention to something of interest.  People often call to each other by singing up a fifth.  The new note is sharp and bright in sound when related to the key-note.  Hence the hand sign.  Give the name soh, and write it against the fifth dot on the board.  The children should now sing from the three hand signs known, also from the notes on the board.  They should also identify the notes when played in groups of two and three on the piano.

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Music As A Language from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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