Pros and Cons of Stick Notation

Stick notation is a method for teaching music reading that involves presenting written notes with the note heads removed. The method is most often associated with the Kodaly method, but is used by non-Kodaly teachers as well. In this article I will consider reasons for using stick notation, and also some drawbacks. Stick notation is … Continue reading Pros and Cons of Stick Notation

What Do We Want Children To Be Able To Do In Order To Sing Well?

Good teaching is largely about stating clear objectives, and then instructing students in how to achieve those objectives. When it comes to singing, often times music educators frame the task in terms of singing on pitch, using a head voice, and maintaining a steady beat. Clearly these items are important to good singing, but as … Continue reading What Do We Want Children To Be Able To Do In Order To Sing Well?

When Performance Requests and Developmental Appropriateness Collide

A music teacher recently asked for suggestions on how to teach The Star Spangled Banner to her kindergarten and first grade classes. She didn't say why she wanted to do this. Perhaps she was asked to have her youngest children sing it for a program, or perhaps she just felt it could never be too … Continue reading When Performance Requests and Developmental Appropriateness Collide

What Are Music Teachers Really Trying To Accomplish?

Ask a Language Arts teacher what they are trying to achieve with their students, and that teacher will probably mention growth in literacy. He or she wants students to read and write effectively, with understanding and comprehension. Students are likely being asked questions like, "what is the author trying to say?" "How does the author … Continue reading What Are Music Teachers Really Trying To Accomplish?

Piano Instruction Cannot Be at the Center of General Music Education

Recently I have read the proposition that music education centered on singing as a means for teaching music literacy is ineffective and obsolete. The author maintained that the methodologies of Kodaly and Orff were products of a time when nothing better was possible, and that now with the availability of technology, keyboard centered music education … Continue reading Piano Instruction Cannot Be at the Center of General Music Education

Switching from One Rhythm Syllable System to Another: Helping Students Work Through The Transition

One of the challenges some music teachers face is sharing students with other music teachers. While it is great that a child might be in band, chorus, and or general music or other music offerings, if a child learns the same concept two or even three different ways, confusion can result. A music teacher must … Continue reading Switching from One Rhythm Syllable System to Another: Helping Students Work Through The Transition

Syncopation, Meter, and Beat: You Really Can’t Separate Them

Syncopation is an interesting subject for music teachers in many countries around the world. On the one hand, right from childhood, people hear syncopated rhythms in folk and popular music styles everyday. The sound of syncopation, and the frequently used rhythm patterns that constitute syncopated rhythms are familiar, and most can quickly learn to correctly … Continue reading Syncopation, Meter, and Beat: You Really Can’t Separate Them

Is There Madness in the Method?

Music teachers are often concerned with method. If you go to most music education conferences, you’ll find sessions on the Kodaly Method, the Dalcroze Method, Gordon Music Learning Theory, the Orff Method, Feierabend’s Conversational Solfege, the Suzuki Method, to name a few. Music teaching methods are like Protestant denominations: there are many of them, they … Continue reading Is There Madness in the Method?

What Are The Best Pitch Combinations For Teaching Our Youngest Children Singing?

The popularity and success of the Kodaly approach to teaching music in schools has resulted in a widespread practice of using songs and chants comprised of a minor third when beginning formal music education with young children. There is much to recommend this practice, including the ease with which a small interval can be sung, … Continue reading What Are The Best Pitch Combinations For Teaching Our Youngest Children Singing?

Update on my Switch to Fixed Do

Last month, I wrote about using fixed do solfege in my music classes (Another Try At Fixed Do). At that time, I reported early success with fifth and second grade students sight singing using the fixed do system. Since then, I have continued to be pleased with the results, and do not at this point … Continue reading Update on my Switch to Fixed Do