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?

Working Aurally With Key Signatures

In my post, Do You Really Know What A Key Signature Is? I made the point that we must not overlook the importance of audiation and teaching keyalities and tonalities aurally before teaching written key signatures. I mentioned singing and playing scales and arpeggios by ear in different keyalities and tonalities. Today, I would like to hone … Continue reading Working Aurally With Key Signatures

Do You Really Know What A Key Signature Is?

I'm fairly certain that if I asked a room full of music teachers to tell me what a key signature is, nearly everyone would tell me something akin to "it is an indication of which pitches will be sharped or flatted throughout the piece of music." As accurate as that is, it is also simplistic … Continue reading Do You Really Know What A Key Signature Is?

Reflective Questions for 5th Grade Music Composition

Today I am going to discuss questions students can use to reflect on their creative musical work. In Connecticut, these questions are part of the Common Core Assessments for music. Each question gets at an important musical aspect or concept, and helps focus students on more than just getting notes down on paper and singing … Continue reading Reflective Questions for 5th Grade Music Composition

The Twists and Turns of Music Theory

When my students learn what intervals are in music, they first learn the interval name, a second, third, fifth, and so forth, before they learn the kind, major, minor, perfect, and so on. It is one of those strange things about music theory that a number represents some distances between notes, while a word represents … Continue reading The Twists and Turns of Music Theory

Improvising With Tonal Patterns

Music is constructed with patterns of pitches and rhythms. As we have seen over the last two weeks, we begin to learn these patterns aurally from birth and even before. Aural learning continues into the school age years, and is necessary before music reading and writing can be taught effectively. Not only are the raw … Continue reading Improvising With Tonal Patterns

The Amazing Human Musical Mind, Part 7

Besides those things I mentioned yesterday, I could switch to rhythms. Now I will gently bounce the child to a beat. The child is not able to do anything to a steady beat yet, but I can again model that, teaching the child what that feels like, letting the child experience it. So I’ll bounce … Continue reading The Amazing Human Musical Mind, Part 7

The Amazing Human Musical Mind, Part 3

There are practical implications to just the impressive array of musical thinking even the youngest children are capable of. Because young brains are so musical, they must be given every opportunity possible to experience music and to grow in musicality. Edwin Gordon, a pre-eminent authority on music psychology and early childhood music, has emphatically written … Continue reading The Amazing Human Musical Mind, Part 3