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Sight singing


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#1 Banjogirl

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 10:32

I have a friend in the chorus who cannot read music and would like to learn to sight sing, and I've said I'll teach her. I'm finding it hard to envisage quite how I go about it, given there's no 'instrument' to hang things on. I was thinking of using the piano as a help, but I'm still a bit unsure about how to actually get started. I learnt to sight sing as a pianist, so I have a very good understanding of all the theory, and intervals and so on. I don't want to do more than is necessary and take her off in directions that she doesn't need. She has a terrific voice and is very keen to learn so I don't want to let her down. Any suggestions would be most welcome!
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#2 Splog

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 11:28

Banjogirl I am running a weekly session for adults where we work on vocal technique and musicianship. We are singing simple songs and using elements of them to learn aspects of music, in addition to working on voice quality. (ie the Kodály approach). This involves learning to read music, by learning the songs and being able to pitch the individual notes, from solfa, handsigns, stick notation etc, then seeing them on the stave. It is slow progress but they are now able to read previously unseen music, albeit with few pitches and rhythm elements, but that is improving all the time.

 

Happy to give you some advice if you want to do a similar approach.


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#3 zwhe

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 11:46

Break it down into small steps - eg major scales and keys with only stepwise movement to begin with, then add thirds when she can do this, etc. It doesn't have to be real music to begin with, just write down some notes that fit in with what you're doing. Once you start doing intervals, then you can look for simple songs that fit what you are learning.

Also, contact Cyrilla!


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#4 Banjogirl

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 14:27

Thanks for the suggestions.I'd be interested to learn Kodaly properly but I have not the time nor the energy nor the money not the necessity really. Unless the chorus wants to pay, and that is extremely unlikely as we're saving to go abroad next year!

I learnt to sight sing just by doing it but I could already read music, and I have to keep reminding myself what a lot I take for granted that I know, that I will have to teach her in one way or another. I'm just not quite sure where to start, when it's from scratch. Also, being the laziest person on the planet I don't want to be writing myself oodles of preparation! I like the idea of bringing in general musicianship. I can see that would fit.

This is a lady who had done no singing before she joined the chorus and has made enormous strides, and really takes on board all the coaching we have and so on,so I know she'll put the effort in and I want to do my best for her, not leaving my cosy chair though!
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#5 Cyrilla

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Posted 07 February 2019 - 23:26

Banjogirl, I've sent you a brief PM :)

 

Solfa really IS the way forward...

 

:)


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#6 musicalmalc

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 03:31

Sol-fa really is the way forward ????

 

I don't understand -  if you are trying to teach someone to sing from music how does sol fa help?


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#7 zwhe

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 07:35

It gives you the sense of key. For example, you work out the key is A major, so A is the first note of the scale. You then don't have to think about the key again, as the intervals are the same for all major scales


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#8 Splog

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 07:52

If you don't have perfect pitch, then in order to sight-sing from score, you need to know the position of each note either relative to the tonic, or relative to the previous note. When you learn solfa, you internalise all these pitches, both the sound of the individual note within the scale, and the sound of all the intervals. And not just the interval by name. Eg the major sixth from do to la has a different feel from the major sixth from so up to mi.


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#9 elemimele

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 10:39

I agree completely with Splog! As a rank amateur musician, what I've found by accident is that because I have no idea what "G" is, being able to recognise G on the score doesn't help me sing it. On the other hand, if I can work out that a simple piece is in G-major (for example) then if I can work out where Do and So are, and remember them on the stave, and remember their corresponding pitches with my voice, then I can use them as sign-posts and hope that everything else is reasonably stepwise or only teeny jumps (e.g. being able to pitch a third easily). It's amazing how much music basically works that way. Crude, and probably making proper musicians cringe, but the Do-and-So-signpost approach to reading a melody works for me quite well. It's also handy for transposition in single-line instruments.

The more intervals we learn, the more signposts we have, but even if we only have a handful of signposts available, we can make use of them. It's like learning a language: a big vocabulary is great,  but if you can do the numbers 1 to 10, "please" and "thanks", you can already do quite a bit of simple stuff on a business trip or weekend away.


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#10 Splog

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 21:29

elemimele absolutely!  I can say "Yes" "no" "please" "thank you" and "Two large beers please" in several different languages. laugh.pnglaugh.png


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#11 Cyrilla

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Posted 08 February 2019 - 21:29

musicalmalc - zwhe and Splog have explained beautifully.

 

IMHO, solfa is the language of music.   It enables you to recall sound - to internalise intervals and to understand what is happening in the music, because each solfa name has its own function.

 

As Splog said, d-l and s,-m are both major 6ths, but they feel different because the function of the notes is different.

 

On the piano, an A is an A is an A...but in the key of G, A=re.  In the key of D, A=so - the functions are different and actually the intonation, when sung, also changes.

 

Solfa enables you not only to sight-sing, but to identify the pitches you hear, and therefore write them down.

 

In other words, to be able to 'hear what you see and see what you hear'.

 

I wish everyone was taught it, whether or not they learn to play an instrument.   In this way all people would be musicians!   It's a mistake to think that it's an 'add-on' to 'real music' - in fact it should be the BASIS.

 

:wub:


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#12 Gran'piano

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 21:15

Is "Tonic solfa" no longer taught in schools?  We learned it in singing lessons in primary school (aged about nine I suppose). The name sounded weird to me and I didn't understand why we learned it at the time, sad.png  but later, when we needed to sight sing at secondary school it was a great help.

Didn't anyone see the film "The Sound of Music"? "Doh, a deer, a female deer" and all that.


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#13 Cyrilla

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Posted 09 February 2019 - 23:34

Solfa IS taught in some schools, Gran'piano - anywhere where there happens to be a trained Kodály teacher.

 

Yes, 'tonic solfa', developed by John Curwen in the 19th century, was taught in many schools at one time.   My mum (born 1921) remembered regular lessons with the Curwen modulator and her teacher using the handsigns (although the children never did).   This knowledge never left her and she remembered it all when I started teaching her when she was in her 60s/70s (it was at this age she had a lovely time attending several Kodály Summer Schools).

 

Kodály practitioners don't normally use the term 'tonic solfa' any more, but prefer 'relative solfa'.   We also use the Italianate spellings (do, re, mi etc.) rather than the Curwen ones (doh, ray, me..).

 

I adore solfa and am never happier than singing one to a part singing in solfa.

 

:wub: :wub: :wub:


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#14 Gran'piano

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 15:04

That was interesting. Thanks Cyrilla. Fascinating that your mother could recall it after so many years. I think this happens with folk who say they are 'beginners', but  once having started, slowly dig out a real wealth of basic musical knowledge and experience. 

Real, genuine, never had any music experience 'beginners' are a completely different pair of shoes. (we don't do 'different cups of tea' around here!)


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#15 Cyrilla

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Posted 10 February 2019 - 23:14

I've taught a fair number of 'real, genuine, never had any music experience 'beginners'' too :).

 

Love teaching them.

 

Mmmm.   Actually I love teaching (almost!) anybody.

 

:) :) :)


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