For as long as any of you reading this have been alive, music has been taught in the context of so-called musical elements. Though one can find variations on just what is included in a list of musical elements, most will agree that it includes rhythm, dynamics, melody, harmony, timbre, texture, and form. Some of … Continue reading What Are The Elements of Music?
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?
Tempo is a deceptively tricky musical concept. On the face of it, it seems straight forward enough. Tempo is measured as the number of beats occurring in one minute given a steady rate, and that beat can be equal to any note duration, such as eighth, quarter, half, or whole note. There are tempo markings … Continue reading Can rhythms be fast?
One of the most baffling concepts in music is the idea that some meters are compound while others are simple. Something that is compound is made up of two or more parts each of which is itself a complete entity. In language, a word like lifetime is a compound word because it is a single … Continue reading The Fallacy of Compound Meters
Over the last few years, I've noticed that meter is a concept that many of my students really don't understand. I discovered this because of improved assessment techniques, so I suspect that this has been the case for some time. As long as I was assessing understanding of meter with head knowledge such as asking … Continue reading Musical Meter Is Everywhere
I searched the title of this post today, and the results were any number of explanations of how to read music; what the note names were, the different kinds of notes, the treble and bass clefs, and so forth. But is this really what those notes on a page mean? Not at all. As you … Continue reading What Do Music Notes Mean?
As I write this, I'm looking at a page from a popular band method book. There is one of those boxes at the top of the page that directs students' attention to an important concept or new learning. There is a pair of eighth notes followed by an equals sign followed by a quarter note. … Continue reading The Problem With Using Math to Teach Rhythm
Children love stories. Sometimes stories can be used to teach difficult concepts. I remember a story that a music teacher used to tell to explain dotted quarter notes, and some 58 years later, I still remember it. Here's is another story about note values. I hope you enjoy it. There once was a land where … Continue reading A Fable from the Land of Music Notes
I have observed among students and colleagues alike that there is a good deal of confusion when it comes to rhythm in music. Students are frequently confused about what rhythm is, and teachers are often confused about how to teach it. From the teacher's point of view, much of the confusion seems to come from … Continue reading Rhythmic Structure of Music: It’s More Than Syllable and Counting Systems
I don't think many of my students think about meter when they are listening to music. They are aware of a melody, of the tempo, of the beat and rhythms, but they are not so aware of the meter, at least not consciously. I've noticed that meter is not so much something that must be … Continue reading The Truth About Meter in Music