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#935156 - 08/07/08 07:49 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
I think that our three ways of learning can be compiled to give an interesting full picture. This is fascinating!

1. There are two ways of perceiving the notes of music here. a) Used especially when learning music audially by rote, where you hear a melody within the framework of the familiar major and minor scales. You are "moving inside that framework" which gives you context and a reference point. When we learn little children's songs we're probably in that system subconsciously as we pick up that pattern. This system breaks down in "modern" or "foreign" music when it doesn't use major & minor scales and does funny things with the notes. In this system you tend to see a series of related notes forming patterns --- like the old neumes. You may be seeing this purely as sound if you do not have written music. With written music, you are seeing it in the framework of oral patterns. The sound-element is a strong one.

b) A perception by individual pitches which have names, one at a time. Also perceiving intervals between the pitches such as Maj2 P4, and being able to sing a P4 up from the previous note. You will probably have a small amount of scale-awareness as well. This would be the prevalent modern way.

Reading music well is easiest if you have a handle on both. They are two different ways of perceiving music and musical notes.

Boira: The method you are learning addresses pitches and pitch names, which are assigned the solfa syllables used in your country. It is good for you to be working on each clef individually, in order to get some automatism. In the same way, a violinist switching to viola can quickly pick up the alto clef (viola music alternates between two clefs) but he has to practice it for it to become a reflex. We use our bodies, minds,and senses in music and all three must be trained, as well as integrated with each other.

But in fact, since the same notes always go up and down the scale, once you know one clef you are able to read all clefs if you know the order of the notes. That is why I could sight read the passage I posted.

I think I'll write separate posts in order to not make this too long.

A second thought: fixed do and letter names is the same thing. Imho, it should be easier for a person with fixed do to also learn letter names than the other way around, because letters are the order of the alphabet which you already know. You might associate some key notes in your mind, such as sol = G, la = A and do = C, since these are significant notes in C major (tonic and dominant of the major scale, tonic of the relative minor). You don't really need such an association but it could work as a focal point if you get disoriented for a moment. The *first* association is between the pitch name and the place on the keyboard - and if you have some perfect pitch, the actual pitch. Associating the name with what it represents is a way of remembering things. The alphabetical order is a memnonic device.

The reason that the author of Softmozart prefered fixed do was because it could be linked with an association with objects that were not abstract but real in a person's mind, such as door, ray, mirror. This is supposed to give a kind of multifaceted memory. The original practitioners did not consider objects. Do was Ut, and Ut was the first word in a piece of music that Guida d'Arezzi composed for that purpose, using one of the ritual religious chants that all church singers had to memorize. This is how you ended up with Do, Re, Mi, Fa.... which you, unlike the old church singers, had to memorize as syllable names without association.

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#935157 - 08/07/08 09:35 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
Continuing: Movable do solfege (MDS), Kodály, Curwen. (With Curwen I finally know what the "British connection" is that I had written about imperfectly before.) These are off-shoots of an older system. Late Beginner, in what you describe, it was also geared toward your instrument, so that you associated the fingering with the solfege names and I suspect that pitch recognition came through the back door unnoticed as well. To understand it all we have to go back in time.

The singers in the Middle Ages memorized everything by hearing it. They had hundreds of liturgical melodies in plainchant, and memorizing them took a long time. There was not a system of major and minor scales, tonal centres like now. There were seven church modes, which you can duplicate by playing the white keys from C to C (do to do), D to D (mi to mi) etc. - you end up with a particular order of intervals. In the same way, our modern major scale with its WWSWWWS is a sequence of intervals. Roughly speaking, that was their music. They would not have had to worry about C# etc. most of the time.

When Charlemagne was given the title of Holy Roman Emperor he had to promise the pope that he would unify church services across that empire. The church music had developed independently. With no written music or modern devices, the southern monks had to enter each religious building in every town of every country and teach all the liturgy to every single man and boy. The northerners also resented this foreign material, while the southern monks wanted to feel superior and actually taught as badly as they could. Except that the pope was visiting churches in disguise and caught what they were doing. He got two of his men to infiltrate Charlemagne's men, go to the north as "one of them" and they taught the proper music. However, there was a need of a system.

The monochord was one teaching device: a one-string box with pressure points so that the intervals in use could be reproduced. modern didactic monochord and basic monochord The notes were in two groups of four (tetrachords). If you look at the modern major scale, it's actually two identical interval groupings with a note in the middle (WWS)W(WWS) \:\) Being able to hear and visually see the intervals was already a help to young singers.

Guido d'Arezzi systemized this. He created hand signals, and he created a way of writing these note-groups, or modes. It was like magic for the people of the time, to be able to sing something that had not been demonstrated.

In the Guidonean hand Guidonean hand or historically historical hand singers were trained to sing a certain sequence of notes intervalically within the framework of the modes, stimulated by what part of the hand the choirmaster/teacher pointed at. You can print out the first hand, trace the notes in order using different coloured pencils, from Ut C to La A (there is no Ti) Guido's hand goes up in order in the way the chart I was taught goes up in the order of higher and lower notes.

Before this, singers memorized little note-groups, like mini-melodies (hence the neumes), and memorized the music as a whole. (We would do well to get a part of that back?) Now for the first time they were considering notes by interval, one note following the next. Also new: associating those notes with an outside stimulus: monochord, hand signal, written note. This was mind boggling for them.

Why does that matter to us? Because we are coming from the opposite and we no longer have their perspective, which completes it. They were already within the framework of the musical patterns and the underlying structure of their modes. The movable do solfege attempts to put us back inside such a framework for context, and it is geared especially for singing. By accident of circumstance this became my modus operandi since I was taught nothing else than that little chart, at age 8, and then nothing.

D'Arezzi's system was invented at a time when music was based on church modes, with only six notes (do re mi fa sol la), there was no sense of key note, no "ti" which is the important leading note of modern music. It was also created when the primary form of music was singing and instruments played a negigeable part. There was a limited number of chants, and the first more complex music involved another chant weaving in and out of the first chant without any thoughts chord progression in the modern sense. They thought horizontally instead of vertically. They thought one melody at a time. For a while polyphonic vocal music might even have two or three languages going!

So all in all, this form of music and notation involves music and musicians who are operating in a much different frame of mind than now. However, while our modern musical system & mindset is very efficient and precise, something got lost. Plus singers need some help. So we have ** Curwen ** in the 1800's in that one place in Britain devising something to help his singers. Kodály adopts something from Curwen. Curwen faces the problem that modern music is no longer modal, we have that seventh note and the music is less restricted. So his is called the ** tonic ** movable do system.

The attributes of the movable do notes in the Curwen diagram shown by Late Beginner are actually the kinds of moods or flavours that would be second nature to the singers of old. They almost don't work for someone playing an instrument such as the piano, since you cannot control pitch. Instead, you get those flavours of the degrees of the note to a large degree through chords. Different kinds of chords create tension and resolution. As a singer and violin student I always feel a certain kind of "blindness" to the tempered tuning of the piano because I cannot adjust the pitch in order to create that flavour in the melody.

In the hand signals of Curwen, there is an attempt to create a sensitivity to the flavour or characteristic of the degrees of a major scale. The senses are to have a double association: you see the hand in a particular shape, and you think of the third degree, the name "mi" as a degree name, and this sits inside your "sense of a scale". You already have this sitting inside you. Try to sing a major scale but stop at the 7th note. You are just itching to sing the tonic, aren't you? Or if I stop at the 7th you'll have the overwhelming urge to finish it for me. The "flavour" of the 7th note is that of an irresistable pull toward the tonic. When we sense and recognize these flavours, it orients us in the music we play or hear. It's like getting a sixth sense. That is what Curwen's system is about. Additionally, if you are a singer or violin player you are actually adjusting your pitch. The F# as 7th note in G major will be a hair's breath higher than the F# of F# minor, because the 7th note is less than a semitone from G, since it's pulling into that G like with a magnet.

Kodály worked with modern music, and I understand that he also looked at how our bodies, senses, perceptions worked together for stimulus-response and whatever. He was also addressing the particular needs of instrumental music, as opposed to singing. He created his system, and included some of the earlier works.

I have the impression that a great many people working with these older things are coming from the context of modern thinking, and will "translate" into modern terms so that we get some interesting hybrids.

In my own raw formation, I could readily "transpose" without knowing note names (or anything, really). These "flavours" were instinctive through that first little chart. When I heard or read music, a certain note would "sound like it's do (tonic)" or "sound like it's la (tonic of the minor)" - and if it "sounded like la" it was in a minor key. If the music modulated from C major to G major, I didn't think of it as a modulation. I would think "Oh - that pitch which was sol now has renamed itself, and it is do" (i.e. I'm now considering this pitch to be the new tonic). I could flow effortlessly along a lot of music, and the "renaming" of notes happened almost subconsciously. It broke down with more complex music. I think that is what these various systems are trying to duplicated. I would rather have the "sense" of the music than associating it through these hand signals. With the system I learned, we still had the sequence of notes going up and down. I feel uncomfortable about these individual flavours.

I understand that those who went under the stringent Russian system would have learned fixed do, but in a manner that they also have these "flavours" - both perspectives at the same time. I am aiming for the same thing, since I already have a foot in both doors.

For me, the name of the Movable Do "notes" make me absolutely oriented and sure. If I hear a piece or play a piece, I can sing it as MD notes immediately, as though someone were dictating them to me. I can transcribe "by sound" in that manner, singing and dictating it to myself. I will also play any melody on any instrument in any key though I might have to hunt for a certain tone, because of perceiving this way. However, there are serious weaknesses, which is why I'm doggedly pursuing the conventional way.

I just found a page of the Requiem where I scribbled M.D.solfege notes over the melismatic passage when I was getting lost. I learned that passage by singing the notes per syllables. You can see the mental process as it was about three years ago, with the two systems sort of meeting. The last bars have a thick line along Bb which fixed the tonic for me because I was thinking in movable do.
solfegification \:\)

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#935158 - 08/07/08 09:38 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
More or less I'm putting the pieces of the jigsaw together
Hm - maybe that's what we're doing, in fact. How wonderful this global existence via the Net can be - amazing. ... Maybe justifies the fact that three students have written a "book" in the middle of the Teacher forum (admittedly the biggest culprit) \:o

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#935159 - 08/07/08 10:25 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Keystring, there're 7 different clefs because you can give middle C (central DO) seven different positions. The numerals 4th, 3th... are the line number where you 'pin' the clef
Now I understand this view - also via your link:
 Quote:
La première est la clef de Sol. Elle fixe la position de la note Sol sur la deuxième ligne. On parle parfois de la clef de sol deuxième, pour ne pas la confondre avec la dernière, qui possède le même symbole mais qui est placée sur la première ligne
[translation] "The first is the Sol (treble, G) clef. It designates the position of teh note Sol (G) on the second line. It is sometimes refered to as the "Sol of the second" in order to not confuse it with the last image which has the same symbol, but is placed on the first line."

It must create a greater accuracy if producing the clefs to know what line the "indicating note" will be on. Visually you will see it at a glance, but then your two treble (G) clefs still need to be named when refering to it.

I learned of these same clefs by considering their function in terms of voice range (soprano, mezzo, baritone etc.) in the course of learning to draw them, and the uncommon ones were mentioned briefly in theory. But since only the common ones were used (treble = G on 2nd, bass = F, and the two C-clefs for alto and tenor) it was not hard to remember the positions of each. Visual was enough. However, I really like this reference to lines, as well as the "reference note" which I think should help immensely in being able to read music. How many people are struggling with FACE EGBDF and memnonics, and then get lost inside a staff?

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#935160 - 08/07/08 11:21 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
This is really fascinating!
There's some more jigsaw pieces in place now \:\)

Maybe the fixed do students [we] have to learn all the clefs in order to be able to transpose more or less comfortablily, given the fact that we're missing the fixable do approach.

 Quote:
One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals.[/b]
Yes of course, that's the way you first get to know what a sharp or a flat (sostenido or bemol) is. I'm getting really curious about your method. Can't wait untill Saturday to be off work and go shopping for some books. LB, some posts ago when you said students start with two notes, I didn'y fully understand that you meant only two notes. After reading the link about the Kodáli method, is clear now.

Oh my! I never thought that concepts like pitch, notes, clefs, acidentals could be teached from such different angles. Pedagogy is a fascinating subject!

Before you're introduced to the concept of scale or key signature, you are taught how a note can be individually modulated. From day one, you get 7 notes. No idea yet about concepts like tone or semitone. Just 7 notes. Then, accidentals. Later, key signatures (yes, before the concept of scale). But one day, oh surprise, what happens with mi-fa and si-do? Here they come then the scales.

Now that we're on it, I have to say that my first two years of solfege were away from any musical instrument. Only voice. Words like 'white keys' or 'black keys' have no meaning at all.
Years ago, Spanish Conservatories made the alumni take 1-year courses in theory and solfege before[/b] starting with any[/b] instrument. So did many schools. Students' theory knowledge must be well ahead of their playing habilities, that was the idea. Did it worked the same way overseas? Nowadays this has changed and you start playing and learning theory at the same time. No idea if this approach is better or worse, but I definitely see the benefit of having a good theory base under your belt before you sit in front of 88 menacing keys. At least in my case, I've found it extremely useful. That doesn't mean my fingers play better, far from it. But knowing beforehand the meaning of what you do, why you do this or that, has made my learning easier.

Keystring, I'm reading your last entries in detail, I'll comment on them later.

* * * *

I've also noticed that 3 naughty students are invading the teachers forum with their solfege adventures.... I only hope that as long as we're not too noisy, don't stick chewing gum under the table and don't stik our fingers up our noses, teachers won't be too angry at us \:\)

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#935161 - 08/07/08 06:21 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
[...]since the same notes always go up and down the scale, once you know one clef you are able to read all clefs if you know the order of the notes.[/b]
In practice, I find that music that moves mostly by step is much easier to read this way than music with a lot of leaps in it, particularly when the leaps are large.

Bona's Rhythmical Articulation isolates the note identification part of clef reading, setting aside pitch, because the student is asked to speak the solfege syllables in rhythm instead of singing them.

The book has a preface explaining all seven clefs, but every exercise in the book is written in treble clef. Why? An acquaintance of mine who used the book at Mannes (an American conservatory) explained that students read all the exercises in all clefs. So even though every exercise is written in treble clef, a student may be asked to imagine any one of the other six clefs and speak the resulting solfege syllables in rhythm.

The first few exercises simply work through all intervals of a particular size, such as fifths (do sol re la mi si...), and let me tell you, even with such simple exercises it is hard to speak the solfege in all clefs at a reasonable speed! I really forces you to read by intervals.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I have the impression that a great many people working with these older things are coming from the context of modern thinking, and will "translate" into modern terms so that we get some interesting hybrids.[/b]
You mean like the variety of moveable do that always uses do as the tonic, even in minor keys? That system actually works very well for common practice music, as well as things such as the blues that blur the distinction between major and minor, but it is not 'backward compatible' with pre-tonal music in the way that Kodály-style moveable do and fixed do are.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
I understand that those who went under the stringent Russian system would have learned fixed do, but in a manner that they also have these "flavours" - both perspectives at the same time.[/b]
This is exactly the sort of thing that prompted me to create this thread in the first place. There is nothing inherent in the fixed do system that forces an awareness of scale degree functions, but we know anecdotally that some students of fixed do develop that awareness, without the need of a separate system of moveable syllables. The question is, what way(s) of teaching fixed do produce this result? Did anyone ever write it down for posterity? I still don't know.

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#935162 - 08/07/08 07:08 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals.[/b]
Yes of course, that's the way you first get to know what a sharp or a flat (sostenido or bemol) is.[/b]
In the Kodály approach, you don't need to know what sharps or flats are if they are used only in the key signature and not as accidentals. As long as students are well acquainted with the sounds of a major scale, they can sing a piece in any major key that uses only the notes of the scale. They just need to be told where 'do' (the tonic) is and they're off and running.

So a note like F-sharp would be used in pieces in G major (where it is the seventh scale degree) before being used in G minor (where it is the raised seventh scale degree in the harmonic and melodic minor scales) or A minor (where it is the raised sixth scale degree in the melodic minor scale), and only later would it be used in C major (where it is the raised fourth scale degree).

It's all about the 'roles' for pitches that keystring mentioned. The Kodály approach is organized around the roles instead of the pitches themselves or their notation. The simplest roles, unaltered scale degrees, are introduced first, and even those roles are not introduced all at once, but in a particular order. The raised seventh of the harmonic minor scale is the next role to be learned. Then the raised sixth of the melodic minor scale. And so on.

Another important aspect of the Kodály approach is that familiarity with sounds comes before theory and notation. A young student singing a piece in G major using moveable do may not understand what an F-sharp is, but he or she understands 'ti' and the role that it represents.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Years ago, Spanish Conservatories made the alumni take 1-year courses in theory and solfege before starting with any instrument. So did many schools. Students' theory knowledge must be well ahead of their playing habilities, that was the idea. Did it worked the same way overseas?[/b]
Kodály advocated something similar. I don't think this approach is common in the United States today, and it may never have been. But I wish I had been taught this way. I spent several years just singing anyway; it would have been a good time for it.

When I was taught to read staff notation in my saxophone lessons, not only was I not taught solfege, but I was not even taught the concept of a transposing instrument. It was more like, "When you see this note, push these fingers down and blow." The fact that my C was not the piano's C was not explained. And when I switched from alto sax to tenor sax, the pitch of C changed again! But I sure knew which fingers to push. :rolleyes:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
[...]3 naughty students are invading the teachers forum with their solfege adventures....[/b]
My intent in posting in this forum was that some teachers would respond saying, "Yes, I teach fixed do and here's how I do it." And we have gotten some posts along those lines. I do hope that our "students' adventures in solfege" posts aren't too distracting.

That said, I think I need to cut back on how often I visit the forums.... It is beginning to interfere with my responsibilities. \:D

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#935163 - 08/07/08 07:22 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
I do hope that our "students' adventures in solfege" posts aren't too distracting.[/b]
Not at all. I for one am finding this discussion fascinating. As a teacher who has taught using Kodaly-style solfa, I could never see the point of fixed do. It's been enlightening. (but I still can't see the point of fixed do \:D )

Just a comment on something keystring mentioned - the Kodaly "system" actually starts with song rather than instrumental playing, and ideally the folksong of the child's own country. This creates some intriguing problems when it's imported to another culture. The way Kodaly begins rhythmically with ta and ti-ti is based on the predominantly simple duple nature of the folksongs he was using. Many of the most commonly sung nursery songs in English-speaking countries are in compound time (you know, Humpty dumpty, Jack and Jill, pop goes the weasel). In the Australian adaptation I was familiar with, they actually had to write a lot of simple duple material especially for the early stages.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#935164 - 08/07/08 07:24 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
That said, I think I need to cut back on how often I visit the forums.... [/b]
Ah, easy to say...
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#935165 - 08/08/08 03:35 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

In the Kodály approach, you don't need to know what sharps or flats are if they are used only in the key signature and not as accidentals. As long as students are well acquainted with the sounds of a major scale, they can sing a piece in any major key that uses only the notes of the scale. They just need to be told where 'do' (the tonic) is and they're off and running.
[/b]
Interesting, it's like we're learning backwards. First, the concept of accidental is taught. Later, we're given a 'trick' for not having to write all the accidentals in every note... Uhmmm... I was 6 years old when I was taught all this. Maybe with adult students it's easier for teachers to introduce the concept of scale from the very beginning.


Yes Keystring, that is it:

G clef on 2nd line marks that 2nd line as the G line and indicates where you write your G notes.
F clef on 4th marks the 4th line as the line where you put all your F's
C clef shows you where to write your C's.... etc

That's the reason becuase initally I found confusing (and shocking!) to see people naming Re or Si or whatever a note written on the line of G (sol) in a G (sol) clef.

We've got tattooed in our brains as rule n #1 that
G clef --> G line --> G notes
F clef --> F line --> F notes
C clef --> C line --> C notes...
that's a really easy reasonig, easy to teach to a child and impossible to forget anymore.
What can be simplier than that? (please don't tell me starting every scale with Do, i'm still assimilating that \:D )

Fixed Do and Movable Do name pitches in a different way. No problem, learning 7 new names is no big deal for any of us. It's like translating 7 words into another language.
The funny part are the scales.
You [m.Do] have a second set of names for the grades of the scale. We [f.Do] haven't.
The set of names you have for the grades, are coincident with the names we have for your c, d, e...
In our scales, the names change everytime. The tonic gets the name of the scale and the rest of the grades get renamed accordingly. It's just like if you'd only use the letter names. The tonic in the scale of C (Do) major will be C (Do), but in D (Re) major will be D (Re)...

Now I've almost completed the jigsaw:
Our Do is fixed making our grade's names vary. Your Do is movable to keep your grade's names fixed.

Only one piece is missing in my puzzle: How having a second set of names for the grades (which are fixed), can make transposing easier? That's the thing I still don't get. The only way to find out is studying the movable do method from the start.

Now I have a project!

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#935166 - 08/08/08 04:42 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Interesting, it's like we're learning backwards. First, the concept of accidental is taught. Later, we're given a 'trick' for not having to write all the accidentals in every note... Uhmmm... I was 6 years old when I was taught all this. Maybe with adult students it's easier for teachers to introduce the concept of scale from the very beginning.[/b]
It's not as if the first day of Kodály instruction involves a lecture about what a scale is. The concept is built up implicitly over time through direct experience with the music. Actually naming it with the term 'scale' only happens after the students already know what it sounds like.

As currawong emphasized, the Kodály approach starts with singing. Not instruments, not theory, just singing. And it's meant to be taught to very young children (starting at 5 or 6 years old).

In very early Kodály instruction, the teacher teaches carefully chosen songs to the children by rote (teacher sings, children listen and imitate). The songs contain only the only so and mi in the earliest stages. At first, the note names are not used. Instead, the songs are sung with real words, lyrics. The singing is done in the context of playing games which often involve an emphasis on moving to the beat (clapping, walking, etc.).

After a while of singing the songs, the teacher talks about how some of the words sound high and some of them sound low (the only two scale degrees in use are still so and mi at this point). The teacher has the children play some games that involve distinguishing between the two sounds (for example, by putting your hands on your head when you sing the higher note, and putting your hands on your knees when you sing the lower note).

When the teacher is satisfied that the children understand which sound is high and which is low, then the teacher tells them that the high sound is called so and the low sound is called mi. Later there might be games where the teacher asks, "If this is so [singing], then where is mi?" It's all very gradual, spread out over several lessons.

The pattern is: experience first, theory second (where 'experience' means singing and hearing). When the concept of a scale is eventually taught, it is as a summary of what the children have already learned about certain 'pitch roles' (which they know by solfege syllable) and how the roles relate to one another.

currawong, since you've actually taught this and I've only been to workshops: Am I off the mark here?

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#935167 - 08/08/08 07:14 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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 Quote:
Only one piece is missing in my puzzle: How having a second set of names for the grades (which are fixed), can make transposing easier? That's the thing I still don't get. The only way to find out is studying the movable do method from the start.
It doesn't make transposing easier. All these things I am reading about Kodaly give me the impression that something very simply has been made rather complicated. It is second nature to me - I would not call it transposing. And I would use it first of all away from any written notes.

Let me try to explain. The movable do syllables simply give me this feeling of an invisible scale. Music usually moves along that scale, right? So by calling the tonic "do" I have a way of feeling where the tonic is. I don't need these syllables at all. I just need to have this "feeling for a scale". But the word "do" immediately sets up this feeling of the tonic like an association. It's like I carrying this big invisible scale-template with me that what I hear sits on. When I hear or read music, then as soon as I recognize the tonic or dominant etc. my mind says "do" or "sol" as a way of fixing where I am in the scale.

I'm not really transposing. If the music has modulated from C major to G major, then I notice that the G "wants to call itself do (tonic)" so then I just start singing those notes with the tonic at that pitch. It makes it easier to sing straightforward music that has modulated.

But recently I have discovered that none of that is necessary. There is no reason for movable do. What you really need is to have the sense of the scale sitting in the background as well as the sense of pitch. I discarded movable do solfege about 5 months ago. I still have the sense of scale degrees, however.

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#935168 - 08/08/08 07:16 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

As currawong emphasized, the Kodály approach starts with singing. Not instruments, not theory, just singing. And it's meant to be taught to very young children (starting at 5 or 6 years old).

In very early Kodaly instruction, the teacher teaches carefully chosen songs to the children by rote (teacher sings, children listen and imitate). The songs contain only the only so and mi in the earliest stages. At first, the note names are not used. Instead, the songs are sung with real words, lyrics. The singing is done in the context of playing games which often involve an emphasis on moving to the beat (clapping, walking, etc.).

After a while of singing the songs, the teacher talks about how some of the words sound high and some of them sound low (the only two scale degrees in use are still so and mi at this point). The teacher has the children play some games that involve distinguishing between the two sounds (for example, by putting your hands on your head when you sing the higher note, and putting your hands on your knees when you sing the lower note).

When the teacher is satisfied that the children understand which sound is high and which is low, then the teacher tells them that the high sound is called so and the low sound is called mi. Later there might be games where the teacher asks, "If this is so [singing], then where is mi?" It's all very gradual, spread out over several lessons.

The pattern is: experience first, theory second (where 'experience' means singing and hearing). When the concept of a scale is eventually taught, it is as a summary of what the children have already learned about certain 'pitch roles' (which they know by solfege syllable) and how the roles relate to one another.

currawong, since you've actually taught this and I've only been to workshops: Am I off the mark here? [/b]
I don't have time to write more, but no, you're spot on
_________________________
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#935169 - 08/08/08 07:49 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Here's what we did:
We had that primitive chart. The teacher didn't talk about anything - we experienced. We sang all of the notes of the scale right away. Then she pointed at common patterns, for example:
do mi, re fa, mi sol, fa la, sol ti, la do, ti re do.
do re mi do, re mi fa re, mi fa so mi, fa so la fa....
do so do so, re la re la, mi ti mi ti....

The association of notes going up and down, the pointer going on the up and down notes of the chart, the names going up and down, all worked together.

As a result these patterns are deeply entrenched. I can sing the Alberti bass, Clementi, anyhthing that I run across in the same way that I can look around the room and say "telephone, vase, book, floor". I cannot hear a melody or look at a sheet of music and NOT hear those syllables and the intervals. If I look at sheet music I hear it.

I think ours was more subliminal teaching. And it was around 1963.

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#935170 - 08/08/08 12:03 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
Clearly Kodály is not the only way of teaching moveable do. It's just the one I know. I think the reason it is so carefully ordered and gradual is to make sure that every student can learn the material, and that if one of them gets confused or falls behind, it is apparent to the teacher as early as possible so that the gap does not get too large.

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#935171 - 08/08/08 12:11 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Kodaly does what the earlier system didn't do - address musical instruments. What we had was incredibly primitive and narrow. Maybe it was that narrow simplicity that served me when I had nothing else for most of my life.

I think it's excellent to see how much more is being taught in certain places than when I went to school. They left us in virtual ignorance. Instrumentally it was just too hard to play anything with more than one sharp or flat since I had to sound it all out. Our movable do solfege would not have been sufficient for instruments. If I look at what I can play from the old days, it's all with few or no sharps or flats, starting with Fuer Elise.

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#935172 - 08/08/08 02:33 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
pianobuff,

When teaching fixed do to your very young students, do you spend a lot of time with just the white key notes before introducing any sharps or flats?

One of the fixed do method books I have, Solfège des Solfèges by A. Dannhäuser (yet another G. Schirmer reprint), uses no sharps or flats for the first 75 or so exercises. All of the notes of the C major scale appear from the very beginning. The intent seems to be to strongly associate each syllable with one and only one pitch class, and only then move on to altered notes. But using the entire major scale from the start makes it impossible to use any major key but C at this stage. If the student already knows moveable do, the exercises simply reinforce it.

I am more familiar with the Kodály approach of beginning with just two notes of the scale (so-mi) and slowly adding the others. I wonder how well a hybrid approach would work, especially with students who already know moveable do.

For example, the Kodály approach uses pentatonic melodies quite a bit. Each of these melodies can be sung in three different keys without requiring any sharps or flats. Doing so with fixed do syllables would provide a simple contrast with moveable do early on.

Edit: One other thing about the book by Dannhäuser is that when it does introduce sharps and flats, each one is used as an accidental before being used in key signatures. The book by Eslava does the same thing. Again, this is different from the Kodály approach I learned, where you'd see a lot of purely diatonic, non-modulating pieces in several keys before seeing any accidentals. [/b]
I teach children to play their beginning pieces (folk songs) by ear not by reading the music. So when they hear their pieces we then sing them in solfege first, I then show them the notes on the piano that we had sung... for example I say, "lets get ready over Do with our thumb." I show them Do and then we play the rhythm that they have heard with correct technique etc... and then on to the next note, using that notes fixed syllable name.

Yes, most of the piece are in the key of C, but not all. The first Suzuki book has pieces in A minor, D minor, and G Major as well.

When they do start reading music, I refer to the notes in solfege. We read (play), then sing the notes in solfege, then read (play) the piece again. The reading book sounds similar to what you described in your post, although quite soon after introducing sharps and flats, it is then written (like it should) in the key signature of preceding pieces.

FYI, I teach letter names too. I start this when they start five-finger patterns in all keys, around the middle of Book 1. Scales I teach as well as other theoretcial concepts using letter names.
_________________________
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#935173 - 08/08/08 03:06 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
Only one piece is missing in my puzzle: How having a second set of names for the grades (which are fixed), can make transposing easier?[/b]
If you are singing, moveable do makes transposing easier because you sing the same syllables no matter what key you are singing a song in. For example, you'd sing the opening phrase of "Happy Birthday" as so so la so do ti in every key. You'd only have to learn it once, so to speak. With fixed do, the phrase would be sol sol la sol do si in C major, re re mi re sol fa in G major, and so on. It seems to make transposition harder for a singer than it needs to be.

It's more than that, though. With moveable do, the intervals between the syllables are always the same. For example, there is always a half step between mi and fa and between ti and do. If one of the notes has an accidental, making the interval different, then you use a different syllable for the altered note: me instead of mi, di instead of do, as so on. The solfege represents the intervals precisely enough that it can be used as a notation system in itself, independent of staff notation. In fact, this is actually done in the Kodály approach. It's what the system was originally designed for in 19th-century England: to be a substitute for staff notation. (Note: Kodály does introduce staff notation later.)

This is why moveable do folks find it so shocking that in fixed do, sol, for example, can represent G or G-sharp or G-flat (or G-double-sharp or G-double-flat). They are used to the idea of solfege---not just sung solfege, but spoken or written solfege---as an independent representation of the notes, something you can convert to and from staff notation with no loss of pitch information. This is where the idea that fixed do is 'approximate' comes from.

Anyway, back to transposition. Transposition is not so natural and easy with (most?) instruments as it is with the voice. How much moveable do helps with transposing on instruments is a separate question.

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#935174 - 08/08/08 03:49 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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When I transpose music on paper I use the audiation factor (hearing what you read) of movabel do only to check my work. It is much more safe to know "From C major to F major = P4 - change key signature - move each note up 4 (count 1,2,3,4)" When I finish, however, I will sing it to check my work.

Whe writing out modes I go pure m.d.solfege - it just makes sense.

On the other hand, if I'm given a sequence of notes with accidentals and I'm supposed to see what kind of scale it is, I might well sing it intervalically and "listen" for which scale it fits into.

I'm constantly moving between the systems. It's like having different aspects of the same music at your fingertps.

 Quote:
Anyway, back to transposition. Transposition is not so natural and easy with (most?) instruments as it is with the voice. How much moveable do helps with transposing on instruments is a separate question.
I play alto recorder which isn't officially a transposing but I have a Handel sonata where the alto music has been transposed.

If you have a transposing instrument the transposition has been done for you, no? But then you might hear something in concert pitch. I suppose you can run the melody in your mind, find the tonic, and then fiddle around with semitones when your notes are off (what I used to do).

Written transposition is a mental calculation (which I got wrong in the exam, because I transposed up 4 instead of down 5 \:\( ) - it's math. You could be totally unmusical and as long as you can count to 7 you can transpose on paper.

This is fascinating.

KS

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#935175 - 08/08/08 04:14 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
What I had in mind when I said 'transposition' was actually playing or singing a tune in at least two different keys, either with staff notation for only one of the keys, or without staff notation altogether.

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#935176 - 08/08/08 04:20 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
pianobuff,

What is the first Suzuki book?

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#935177 - 08/08/08 04:24 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
What I had in mind when I said 'transposition' was actually playing or singing a tune in at least two different keys, using staff notation for at most one of the keys. [/b]
I think for that I still go mostly m.d.solfege. How about you? I experimented with a Clementi to see if it was possible, and it was easy to decide to start in a different key. But I don't know how that work for someone else. I look at the music, I'm reading it, but I'm also hearing it "within the framework of the scale" (like m.d.solfege) I managed to do that with prima vista pieces, but for two handed they had to be simple.

I would play the scale through once and the I chord - then transpose what I'm seeing.

I can transpose a couple of memorized pieces that have Alberti bass - that's m.d. solfege ... or it's audiation, I think.

It's harder with a wind instrument because they have such weird fingering. Is it the same for yours? Like, in piano or violin, if it's a semitone higher, you just move up a semitone. On recorder you might have to cross your fingers and wrinkle your nose to find the fingering to match the pitch you're after.

Then there is Louise Guhl and her "Piano Proficiency". She teaches the finger patterns kinetically. Then you are given a two handed piece and told to play it in three or four different keys prima vista. You use intervals. I learned to transpose that way - it's like "flying blindfolded" - but it worked for me. Maybe this way is better for instruments? Here you'd be working with pitch. A G# would always be a G#. That might be easier to remember.

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#935178 - 08/09/08 03:53 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

pianobuff,

What is the first Suzuki book? [/b]
Is it Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1 by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, published by Alfred?

Edit: Is the 'reading book' that you also referred to in your post the same book?

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#935179 - 08/09/08 08:34 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

pianobuff,

What is the first Suzuki book? [/b]
Is it Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1 by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, published by Alfred?

Edit: Is the 'reading book' that you also referred to in your post the same book? [/b]
Yes, the first Suzuki Book is how I refered to Suzuki Piano School, Volume 1.

The reading book that I use is titled, Methode Rose, a compilation edited by Van de Velde.
_________________________
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member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#935180 - 08/10/08 04:47 PM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Late Bloomer:

What I had in mind when I said 'transposition' was actually playing or singing a tune in at least two different keys, using staff notation for at most one of the keys. [/b]
I think for that I still go mostly m.d.solfege. How about you?[/b]
Well, I haven't practiced using the fixed do system very much, so I can't make a fair decision about whether it would be useful for transposition or not.

When singing, I find that moveable do solfege helps me transpose if I am not familiar with the tune. If I am familiar with the tune, then I don't give any thought to transposition at all, and may not even be aware that I am transposing if the interval of transposition is small enough. For example, my choir director once gave us starting pitches that were a whole step up (on purpose), and most of us didn't notice.

If I'm playing piano, it depends on whether I'm reading or playing by ear. If I'm reading, I don't tend to use solfege at all. If I'm playing by ear, and if I'm disciplined enough not to use my childhood method of "just try stuff and remember what works", I use moveable do solfege as needed to help me be accurate with the starting note, large intervals, etc.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
It's harder with a wind instrument because they have such weird fingering. Is it the same for yours?[/b]
Sorry, it's been ages since I played saxophone and I no longer have the instrument. I don't remember ever working on transposition when I did play. To answer an earlier question of yours, all the written parts we used were already transposed so that the concert pitch would come out right. We were never given parts written at concert pitch and expected to do the transposition ourselves.
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Like, in piano or violin, if it's a semitone higher, you just move up a semitone.[/b]
Well, on the piano there's the issue of white keys vs. black keys, which can change the feel of a piece (in the tactile sense) dramatically from one key to another.

On a string instrument... I've never played one, but if transposition were so easy, why would anyone use devices like a capo ?
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Then there is Louise Guhl and her "Piano Proficiency". She teaches the finger patterns kinetically. Then you are given a two handed piece and told to play it in three or four different keys prima vista.[/b]
This is pretty much how I already sight-read at the piano. I may be able to 'sound out' parts when I'm not playing, but when I am playing, I don't have the extra mental capacity to hear every note in my head just before I play it. Most of the time, the best I can do is to listen after I play each note to see if it sounds reasonable or not.

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#935181 - 08/11/08 03:42 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
Back again after the weekend parenthesis.

Saturday went to the music shops to see what fDo solfege books (in English) were available. Result: none.
I found, however, some books you may find interesting. One of them is a translation from the original French version, which won't be difficult to find via web.

1- Método graduado de Solfeo [Solfege graded method], by Laz, in 5 volumes. Edited by Boileau, Barcelona.
2- Método de enseñanza de la música por la educación metódica del oído [Music teaching method by the methodically education of the ear], by Gedaige (Professor in the National Conservatory of Paris). Edited by Boileau, Barcelona.
3- Teoría completa de la música [Complete music theory], by Davalillo. Edited also by Boileau.
4- Pentagrama. Música. Ciclo inicial. [Staff. Music. Early stages.]. By Amat.
5- El solfeo no es feo. Oyes lo que lees. De 6 a 106 años. [Solfege is not ugly. You hear what you read. [For people] from 6 to 106 years old]. By Munt, Néstor.


I asked a friend of mine (sound engineering teacher and guitar player) about other method books he may be aware of, an he lended me the four volumes of the Harmony Method edited by the Berklee College of Music (in English). They're not about solfege (only harmony), but at the beginning of volume 1 when the concepts of clefs and staff are introduced, the author uses the G-cleff, F-cleff (G line, F line) aproximation. The idea of *clefs as note indicators on lines* aren't an exclusive feature of the fixed do system then... I have the 4 volumes in pdf format too (about 8,35 MB). Graphic quality is far from explendid, it's an old edition. If anybody wants to take a look at the pdf, just tell me.

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#935182 - 08/11/08 03:45 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
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Boira, I'd be interested in taking a look.

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#935183 - 08/11/08 04:05 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona

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#935184 - 08/11/08 04:11 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
Late Bloomer Offline
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Registered: 07/24/08
Posts: 70
Boira,

Do any of the books have a detailed discussion of how to study fixed do, as opposed to page after page of staff notation with very little discussion?

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#935185 - 08/11/08 04:12 AM Re: How is 'fixed do' solfege taught outside the U.S.?
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11850
Loc: Canada
Done! Muchas gracias! \:\)

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