Note and interval reading/literacy

Posted in Category Open Discussion
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    Maggie.setterstrom 8 months ago

    Hi! I teach middle and high school choir and many of the kids struggle to read music and maintain vocal independence of their line. They also struggle to sing out. What advice do you have for increasing music literacy, both at the middle school level and also at the high school level? I'm doing some basic solfege exercises and sightreading between Do-Re and Do-So for starters, but I don't feel like it's helping that much. Thanks!

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    Camille van Niekerk 8 months ago

    Hi, Maggie! Do your students have a sight reading textbook to follow? I've used and enjoyed "Sing at first sight", but I do think it moves rather quickly. "Melodia" is a great, very gradual sequence of exercises and could be an easy way to assign sight reading homework: https://ia800203.us.archive.org/17/items/cu31924021781434/cu31924021781434.pdf

    Speaking from my own experience, I learned to sight read in college and it took a few semesters with dedicated practice before I felt like a confident sight reader. Using hand signs helped a lot for me, as did learning each interval connected to a song I already knew. I felt like I "got it" when I could hear a popular song and sing it on solfege - and perhaps your students will enjoy that too (pop song examples, quizzes, etc). One of my favorite conductors encouraged us all to be confidently wrong, and he'd praise students who sang out, whether or not they sang the correct pitches. He told us that we'd fix mistakes faster if we sang out, and he also required us to circle the note or measure when we made a mistake, so that it would jump out and we'd be less likely to make the same mistake again. 

    I hope some of that helps! It's so empowering to read music, but it can be difficult to convince singers of that, since they can learn so much by ear!

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    Maggie.setterstrom 7 months ago

    Thanks so much, Camille! I appreciate all your great advice and videos.

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    Camille van Niekerk 7 months ago

    So happy to help, Maggie! 

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