Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Solfege Geek

M and I are learning the piano.  It's so fun!  It's also really hard! 

I've been reading about Growth Mindset lately so my enjoyment of the challenge is very gratifying. 

M is taking lessons with our friend A who is teaching her a combination of Suzuki and Piano Adventures.  The Piano Adventures focus on note reading with simple songs, and developing sight reading skills.  To add notation to the Suzuki, I write out the text we've learned or invented for the tune.  M colors in a table below the words, that represents the measures, with the color her teacher assigned that pattern.

I'm working on teaching her music in general with solfege.  The solfege instruction looks like us learning a song with words, then singing the tune in solfege. 

Recently M is learning Au Clair De Lune.  The left hand has so many different patterns, that the color system breaks down.  There are 9 different measure contents.  So the repetition is low, and memorizing what color means what pattern, is onerous.

We didn't have the book when we first got this song, so I used solfege to transcribe out the left hand.  Hurray Solfege!  Then I got the book and found that there is a discrepancy between the book and the CD.  Apparently there is a lot of discussion on the shoddy work of the CDs and Books.  It's really surprising that those typos and errors would not have been fixed.  Suzuki seems like such an establishment.

The next song in the book we'll do with the color patterns because there are only 4 patterns and 1 variation. 

Lots of tools in this tool box.

I was thinking about why I love the Solfege so much.  It's a big picture thing.  Also it's a lot like sign language.  You have word combinations in English that mean the same thing, so you sign them with the same sign.  That drives some people crazy.  They don't feel like they are getting an exact translation.  Bah.   You also have specific words in English that mean different things.  Second.  Produce.  Came.  The list is really long.  We face decisions daily on how we will translate this or that word/phrase. 

Solfege tells you the relationship of notes to each other, and helps you predict how they will act.  Similarly family names like Mom, Dad, Grandma... tell us who someone is, to another person, more than their given name. 

And sign language is a lot like that too.  The meaning of the word "second" changes if it is in the sentence "I'll be there in a second."  versus  "I came in second."  And neither of those sentences use the word "in" in the sense of being contained.  So close, but really very different.

Similarly, there are 12 notes (A Bb B C C# D Eb E F F# G G#) in our tonal system, not bothering with enharmonic spellings.  The 7 solfege notes (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do) describe the relationship between these notes in action.  There are hundreds of note relationships, and solfege makes meaning from them.  I love it!  Even accidentals make sense, rather than just being unexpected.

I went to college with this guy who is combining solfege in his piano method.  Cool!
Piano approach with solfege

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