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Another plug for teaching solfège
#1414370 04/09/10 04:36 PM
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Lately my 9 year old daughter has been playing once a week with a flutist. What a great experience.

For her and her flutist I am preparing a little arrangement of the aria "Seguidilla" from the opera Carmen.

This is music that my daughter knows very well, she sings it sometimes in the bathtub. Well, I asked her to sing while I played.

The first note when she enters, after the introduction, she must sing C-sharp while I play F-sharp. Only she couldn't sing her note, she kept on singing my F-sharp, and couldn't find her note at all. Even when I played her note and she sung it to prepare herself, she started right in on F-sharp when I played. This is reading from the score.

If she had to play the melodic line on the piano she would have had not problem. You read the score, you touch the key and the note is emitted.

But when you yourself are the instrument it is another story. It is a different experience, which calls for a more profound musical mastery.

In the end, I didn't get to hear my arrangement but we had a very interesting session at the piano, trying to get her to hear in her mind the melody that she had to sing, and to get her to understand the difficulty.


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
landorrano #1414594 04/09/10 10:52 PM
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I teach solfege as well. It is my students' first musical language and the key to developing the ear.


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
dumdumdiddle #1414764 04/10/10 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle
I teach solfege as well. It is my students' first musical language and the key to developing the ear.


First musical language? Would you explain? I am very interested.

Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
landorrano #1414853 04/10/10 03:01 PM
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All of my students learn solfege rather than letter names to name the notes on the staff. We sing the notes of every song that we will eventually play, we sing while we are playing, and students will hear dozens of solfege patterns as part of their weekly lesson.


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
dumdumdiddle #1414880 04/10/10 04:10 PM
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Dumdumdiddle,

In your experience as a piano teacher have you noticed a difference between the progress of your students who were taught solfege and those that were not taught solfege?

My younger son is currently enrolled in a Musikgarten pre-piano course where he is being taught solfege. My older son was also enrolled in the same course but is now completing his first year of private piano lessons.

Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
Musictuary #1414913 04/10/10 05:24 PM
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Dumdumdiddle, that is very interesting. It is certainly very unusual in North America -- at least I would suppose so. How does it happen that you have chosen this approach?


Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
landorrano #1414984 04/10/10 08:26 PM
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Musictuary,
Yes, I've noticed a huge difference in ear training ability as well as overall musicality. The solfege helps students interalize pitch. Singing the letter names of a song is in my opinion, pretty useless, as the notes B, C, D, E, and G all end in the long E sound. I will say that I do teach about the 'Key of C', 'Key of G', 'Key of Am', as we move through the different 5-Finger patterns. This way they will have no trouble later identifying that C is 'do', D is 're', etc... They learn that a C chord is do-mi-sol, a G7 chord is ti-fa-sol.

landorrano,
True, solfege is the not the common way to teach note reading in N. America, although most of the world uses it. There are no private piano methods on the market that use solfege. Yamaha and Harmony Road are the two group piano programs that use solfege exclusively as their musical alphabet. Music For Young Children uses letter names and incorporates some solfege, but I think it might be 'moveable do'. Not sure about Musikgarten; I'm curious if it's 'fixed do' or 'moveable do'.



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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
dumdumdiddle #1415041 04/10/10 11:05 PM
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I can certainly see why singing solfege syllables is more effective than singing letter names - as a movable do practitioner from way back I haven't always seen this, but I do now. They're easier and more distinctive to sing.

However, those for whom solfege syllables are actually the way of naming the notes (in many European countries, for example) also need to realise that movable do is used widely (UK, Australia, USA apparently - and certainly in Kodaly's teaching "method").

Similarly, those who use movable do should realise that if you try to tell a fixed do person that "in this piece do is G" they'll think you're crazy.

The main thing to be clear about IMO is that movable and fixed do systems shouldn't really co-exist. Use one OR the other. To do otherwise causes massive confusion.



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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
currawong #1415075 04/11/10 12:07 AM
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I learned both solfege and letter names when I was younger, so I can switch back and forth between both systems.

However, I have seen some students who struggled when they transition from solfege to letter names. These are transfer students from a local Yamaha school. Not all students make a smooth transition. For those who are confused for longer than a year, I wonder if they would be better served starting in letter names and _not_ learning solfege at all?

But, then, how could you tell/predict those who will struggle with the transition?


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
AZNpiano #1415084 04/11/10 12:52 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I learned both solfege and letter names when I was younger, so I can switch back and forth between both systems.
I think that's easier than switching from fixed to movable do. That is, you're just learning do=C, not going from do=C to do=tonic (which could of course be a note you've learnt to always call re...)

But yes, I expect some students have trouble even with this transition.

I just wish movable and fixed do used different syllables, so that there would be no confusion. Or that letter names were more singable. Or something. smile


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
AZNpiano #1415086 04/11/10 01:02 AM
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Dumdumdiddle, to answer your question about whether Musikgarten uses movable or fixed do: they use movable do. I think the idea is that movable do teaches intervallic relationships (whereas fixed do replaces letter names) but I could be mistaken.

In my teaching, I use movable do, and we don't so much switch to letter names but add them at a later time (always going back to solfege for patterns). For me personally - I have perfect RELATIVE pitch, but not perfect pitch - movable do makes singing a melodic pattern possible even when I'm not at the piano.

Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
elfenbein #1415089 04/11/10 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by elfenbein
I think the idea is that movable do teaches intervallic relationships (whereas fixed do replaces letter names)...
That's it in a nutshell IMO, though obviously there's more to it. But I didn't mean to develop a fixed vs movable thread. We've had some longish ones in the past and I'm not sure I have the stamina. smile


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
dumdumdiddle #1415109 04/11/10 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle

True, solfege is the not the common way to teach note reading in N. America, although most of the world uses it. There are no private piano methods on the market that use solfege. Yamaha and Harmony Road are the two group piano programs that use solfege exclusively as their musical alphabet.



How did you get to teaching solfège yourself? Are you european, or did you study music in Europe?

Really, I am quite impressed. I have never seen anyone post on PianoWorld, saying that they teach solfège as the "first musical language". I have posted about solfège a number of times, but it seems to pass unnoticed.

I am completely in agreement with your approach.


Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
elfenbein #1415111 04/11/10 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by elfenbein
movable do makes singing a melodic pattern possible even when I'm not at the piano.


With what you are calling "fixed do" this is also the case. One learns, with time of course, to sing all intervals from any note. All musicians ... students, teachers, amateurs, pros ... do it as a matter of course.

Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
landorrano #1415112 04/11/10 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by elfenbein
movable do makes singing a melodic pattern possible even when I'm not at the piano.
With what you are calling "fixed do" this is also the case. One learns, with time of course, to sing all intervals from any note. All musicians ... students, teachers, amateurs, pros ... do it as a matter of course.
Both forms of solfege (fixed, which you are talking about, and movable, as in Kodaly-based instruction) have as one of their main aims to develop the ability to sing at sight. They just go about it in different ways.


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
landorrano #1415179 04/11/10 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle

True, solfege is the not the common way to teach note reading in N. America, although most of the world uses it. There are no private piano methods on the market that use solfege. Yamaha and Harmony Road are the two group piano programs that use solfege exclusively as their musical alphabet.



How did you get to teaching solfège yourself? Are you european, or did you study music in Europe?

Really, I am quite impressed. I have never seen anyone post on PianoWorld, saying that they teach solfège as the "first musical language". I have posted about solfège a number of times, but it seems to pass unnoticed.

I am completely in agreement with your approach.



I was first introduced to solfege as a young adult, when I was trained to be teach the Yamaha method back in the 80's. At first it was weird and I had a hard time switching my thinking from letter names to solfege. I also felt really out of place as a teacher for using solfege, since I knew no one outside of Yamaha teachers that used it in their piano studios (with some teachers even going so far as to tell me that "no one uses solfege for note naming anymore"). But then I had students whose parents came from different countries, and THEY told me how they, too, had learned solfege (countries like Mexico, Spain, France, Russia, most Asian countries, most South American countries). It was then that I realized that the US and a few other countries (Germany, Canada, and GB) are really in the minority with letter names.

I now teach the Harmony Road course and have been sold on teaching solfege for almost 30 years.

With regard to transfer students changing over to letter names, the comments I receive from private teachers who have some of my HR graduates has been very positive. Some of those teachers will continue with the solfege, some will have them switch over to letter names right away. Also, many of my HR students will take up a band instrument at school after a few years of piano; they will most definitely learn letter names there. My own kids did this; my daughter would go to her piano lesson and read in solfege, then go to clarinet lesson and read in letter names.


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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
dumdumdiddle #1415242 04/11/10 11:25 AM
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I'm so happy that someone else also teaches solfege. It's true that not many people in north America teach it, although at my uni everybody seems to have learned it.

It makes a huge difference and everything should be sung first rather than pluncked out on the piano. It teaches so much about phrase and line!



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Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
Pogorelich. #1415255 04/11/10 11:49 AM
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When I was saying

For me personally - I have perfect RELATIVE pitch, but not perfect pitch - movable do makes singing a melodic pattern possible even when I'm not at the piano -

I was not referring to sight-singing, but to just making up a short melodic pattern for my students to sing back to me. For sight-singing, you want to make sure that you are indeed singing a C (or fixed do) when the score says C, of course.

I don't have perfect pitch (don't want it, either) but I usually get pretty close when I try, I'm usually not more than about a second or so off. But away from the piano, if I want to sing a melodic pattern, "do-re-mi" works even when I am not sure whether my do is actually a D or whatever I am trying to sing. Hope that makes more sense than my original post.

Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
elfenbein #1415261 04/11/10 11:55 AM
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Just curious, why don't you want perfect pitch?



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: Another plug for teaching solfège
elfenbein #1415282 04/11/10 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by elfenbein

I was not referring to sight-singing, but to just making up a short melodic pattern for my students to sing back to me.


I am curious as to why you prefer to move the Do for this sort of exercise.

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