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Counting Music with Beginners


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#16 Maizie

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 09:44

Hmm - a quick check online says basic fractions should be covered in KS1 !

And only applies to the UK...


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#17 Piano Meg

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 11:21

I've usually relied on counting or making up words, phrases or lyrics for particular rhythms, using the interests of the particular pupil. I've mostly found that one of those will work... but sometimes it takes a while, and it usually needs further attention in new pieces. So, I've just started using kodaly syllables with a few pupils - just in the last three weeks!

 

I'd been avoiding it up till now - partly because I wasn't sure about all the syllables and partly because I felt that if you're going to use Kodaly for something, you should probably use it for everything (which I can't yet fathom! - for me re-training and for my pupils/parents re-patience for extended musicianship focus). But I'm one of those who gets frustrated with PA rhythm progression and decided to dip my foot in, and I'm loving it so far! The pupils I've tried it with have looked at me as if I'm strange to begin with (though, to be fair, that's not entirely unusual!) and then enjoyed themselves. I love the fact that we can clap/tap/bounce/nod the pulse while saying the rhythms, and at the moment I think that's going to be the biggest help - FEELING the pulse behind different rhythms and having a clear sense of the two working together. We've done that with counting too, but this feels like a much stronger connection - maybe because they're not trying to work out where the 'and' after 3 comes in the sequence! 

 

Having said that, I had one pupil who thoroughly enjoyed trying out tam-ti rhythms and then asked if she could go back to using 'Ell-ie, ell-ie, el-e-phant' for her piece with dotted rhythms (Wise Elephant in Piano Time Pieces 2)! ... baby steps!


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#18 musicalmalc

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 11:43

 

Hmm - a quick check online says basic fractions should be covered in KS1 !

"Should" is a really tricky word, to be used with great caution!

 

"Should" was my word - perhaps I should have said it was on the list of topics for KS1 and I hadn't spotted the comment was from Aquarelle so assumed it was UK


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#19 Dorcas

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 14:43

I am finding this interesting.  Will be wary of tea and caterpillars, Cyrilla!

 

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#20 ten left thumbs

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Posted 07 December 2018 - 14:48

I think probably at this level it doesn't matter which country. Of course, children going through any education system should learn basic fractions pretty quickly, however just because it's been covered doesn't mean it will really go in. 

 

Aside: I've had better retention of the tone/semitone thing since I've abandoned talking about tones and semi-tones, and instead, we talk about whole tones and half tones. It shouldn't really matter. A child ought to be able to take in that semi means half. However, a lot of them don't. I noticed quite a few kids would think (a week later) that semi-tones are bigger than tones. Why? Because the word is bigger! So now I talk about whole tones and half tones. 

 

Back to rhythm - my vote is with kodaly ta-tete. Other syllables work, and I've found kids, when they really get the concept, and feel it strongly, don't care what the syllable is, and will adapt if one teacher uses one system, and at school they use a different system. If they don't feel it, it doesn't matter what you do, they won't get it. Won't read reliably, won't perform or even imitate correctly. 

 

Counting for beginners is rubbish. And experienced musicians don't count all the time, even if they think they do. What they do, is they feel it, and occasionally, when it's a tricky bit, they turn the counting on, only to turn it off when they don't need it. (Try teaching that!)

 

Another issue touched on here is, to teach beat subdivisions or two beat notes first. That is, do you start with crotchets and minims, or quavers and crotchets? I used to do crotchets and minims, holding off with quavers for a long time (following PA). I thought the kids would find quavers difficult. I switched to crotchets and quavers (ta-tete) and I've never looked back. They find the beat much easier to divide, than to wait through the two beats of a minim. 


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#21 Cyrilla

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 00:14

I'm not sure I like the idea of 'tea and caterpillars', Dorcas ohmy.png!

 

Aquarelle, I'm not against teaching the theory - I was just making the point that knowing that 'two quavers equals one crotchet' doesn't necessarily enable you to perform them accurately.   As you say, the rhythms have to be felt - some children WILL just 'feel' them naturally, but my focus is always on enabling people to really understand what they are doing - by approaching the same element in different contexts.   Sorry, not expressing myself very well at 12.15am!

 

Graphic ways of depicting the relationship between the two are really helpful.

 

In my experience, notes of two or more beats' duration are really hard for children.   Ta and ti-ti are SO much easier!

 

Dalcroze is well worth looking into as a way to really FEEL the music you hear.

 

:)


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#22 Aquarelle

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Posted 08 December 2018 - 19:49

I realise, of course,  Cyrilla that you didn't mean you were against teaching theory. I don't use counting very much in practical work and when I do it is usually with older children. When I was at  college of education, doing music as main subject we were taught to use syllables which were written as follows, for example:

 

taa   taa   ta--té   taa  taa   ta- té  taa-aa

 

This, we were told was the French time name system. Since teaching in France I have never yet met a French pupil or teacher who has ever heard of it!! The nearest thing I have come across is a French child declaiming  "noire, noire, deux croches, noire  blan-che"

 

I don't use words in French as it doesn't work. French is not a time stressed language. English people speaking French often turn it into  stressed time but it isn't correct. I don't use English words with French children as they have the difficulty the other way round. I don't use the "noire deux croche " system either because I have no idea how they would ever be able to say "blanche pointée" - let alone "double croche."  What  on earth would  a French teacher  use for a group of 4 semi-quavers rolleyes.gif ,?  I use ta-fa-té-fi -  which usually causes hoots of laughter the first time they hear it!  In general  I stick to what i was taught at college of education, which I assume is similar to the Kodaly syllables and I use counting mainly for theory or  in practical for those children for whom it works. But it all often gets a bit mixed up.

 

I suppose we all use what works for our particular pupils and it's interesting to see the variety of approaches mentioned in this thread.

 

To add to the confusion the French word for a semi-quaver is "double croche" which leads some of my bright sparks to insist that a semiquaver is double the length of a quaver. The  word "double" has nothing to do with the relative length of the note. It refers to the two hooks on the stem. And there is also the question often asked about the "ronde" - because it isn't round after all, is it? It's oval and some children do like to  nit pick!! All adds to the fun!biggrin.png


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#23 Cyrilla

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 00:19

I think ta, ta-té, ta-fe-ti-fi etc. are called 'French time names' because they were devised by Galin/Paris/Chevé in 19th century France.

 

When Kodály and his colleagues were looking at what was already sound educational practice, they took the French time names and the tonic solfa system developed by John Curwen in Victorian England.

 

Both were adapted - the time names to ta, ti-ti, ti-ri-ti-ri etc.   I was told, when I first started learning Kodály, 'You can't use ti-ti in this country (snigger)' so I used to use te-te.   But I went back to ti-ti (unless you pronounce it 'titty' there really ISN'T a problem with children!) as it flows better and is vocally more comfortable.   I also changed from ti-ri-ti-ri to ti-ka-ti-ka - again for similar reasons.

 

What is most important is that you're consistent with what you use,   In my experience, children have no problem with the fact that in their instrumental lesson it's generally called a crotchet, in Kodály lesson it's 'ta' and in Dalcroze it's a 'walk'.

 

If people have never used rhythm names, do try them - especially effective, as I said before, when the children are performing the pulse in some way at the same time, so that they are relating pulse and rhythm.   My other advice is don't read the rhythms FOR the children, or count out loud 'in order to keep them in time' - and don't always rely on clapping use other movements.  I will go to my grave saying PULSE/RHYTHM!!!   They can only be taught effectively through practical experience - movement - not through theoretical abstractions (especially with younger children).

 

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#24 elemimele

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 18:03

[shouldn't be here, and in musing-about-bygone-eras mode]... do children need more explicit help with this sort of thing nowadays because of the lack of class singing, or am I remembering life through pink spectacles? I was trying to remember how I was taught rhythm in music, and I am pretty sure I wasn't. The image that came into my head was a primary school teacher singing with her class, singing with an exaggeratedly-strong pulse to try to keep everyone together, with a bit of body-conducting going on too, strong eye-contact, strong accentuation of the syllables of what she was singing, and some children straggling, but basically all of us matching her pulse because after a while it becomes obvious that class singing is truly horrible if everyone does their own thing. Different songs gradually brought in different rhythms within the pulse. I honestly think that copious class singing was what set my generation up for a decent musical life. "Music and movement" probably helped; dance also concentrates attention on pulse and asks questions about what to do with rhythms (though there was a lot of spacing ourselves out and pretending to be a tree, too).


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#25 Aquarelle

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 19:20

Music and Movement, Singing Together, Poetry Time,  Time and Tune - even Listen with Mother - all gone! Good solid congregational singing in churches and  and Sunday Schools - mostly gone. Daily school assemblies - probably some saved by "Out of the Ark" but mostly gone. And as for what passes for music lessons in some schools (not all, thankfully) these days - don't get me started on that. If in England it is anything like what I have seen here then  music teachers don't just have to fill the hundreds of gaps - they actually have to repair the damage.

 

So when a child turns up for an instrumental lesson we can't take anything for granted.


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#26 SingingPython

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:02

This has been a REALLY useful discussion for me.  I have a small bunch of students that I really need to start doing systematic note reading work with (I teach Suzuki violin), and having been thinking about it for a few months I keep changing my mind about how to approach it.  I want to do some of it as group lessons (which due to timetabling won't be very frequent), but they are all getting different input from elsewhere (home, other music activities, or nothing).  Plus I now have an older student whose rhythm is shaky, and a younger beginner who isn't picking up on clapping a word-based rhythm as easily as previous students have.

 

Conclusion - I'm going to have a longer session and invite the whole lot to come together, age and stage not withstanding.  We can do Kodaly rhythms, let the littlest ones have a break while I try some cards or dictation with the older ones, then play some pieces together.  I will be drawing heavily on my memories of a Kodaly class I went to as a child; so I think I'm going to stick with ta-fa-ti-fi as that's what I remember our teacher did!

 

If I can just get my planning right this should be a lot of fun!


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#27 Maizie

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 15:31

Moving through the television channels last night, we were briefly exposed to a group of young children "singing".  About as pleasant to listen to as your general group of six-year-old recorderists ;)  And Mr Maizie said "Why do children not have any sense of rhythm?  They can't stay together.  When does that happen, how do we learn that?"

And I looked at him and said "Music and movement" [I had 'dance' classes as a young child, which were really about the basics of moving to music; Mr Maizie did actually have a school class called  'music and movement'].  He gave me A Look, and I said "No, no, really, you have to learn it and be taught it, and like everything some people pick it up more quickly than others, and some people learn it one way and some people need a different way and ..." .  I waffled on a brief bit and may have said things like "Cyrilla says...".  So, thank you, all thread contributors for allowing me to baffle Mr M with my new-found knowledge :)


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#28 jmcellist

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 18:22

Yes, "Music and Movement" was a BBC radio programme in the 1960s. I remember my infants' school classes trying to join in with rather embarrassing results.
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#29 Cyrilla

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 22:45

LOL Maizie!   Is 'Cyrilla says' anything like 'Simon says' ???   :unsure:

 

But yes, absolutely pulse and rhythm need to be taught.   Just as some children seem to learn to read almost without instruction, so some children will have an excellent feeling for the pulse and will just seem to imbibe how rhythms go.   But most people need some sort of teaching!

 

One of the problems is that music teachers tend to have no memory of exactly how they learned to read music, so hope that their students will somehow just pick it up as they did.  It's very, very hard to teach anything that you have personally found easy.   I think it's why I'm a good teacher lol.

 

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#30 Aquarelle

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 10:56

I actually do remember how  I was taught to read music and also how I was taught to read words- but I think, as you say Cyrilla, it's far from always the case. I think I remember these things because they were such an immense pleasure at the time.

 

It is difficult to teach something one has learnt easily but I think one of the tricks is just to keep on asking yourself why the pupil finds it hard. It's rather a nice challenge as when you  eventually pin the problem down it's like solving a puzzle.


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