Monday, August 31, 2015

Facing Challenges With Optimism

A new school year is under way. For some students this is their first experience with school or Let's Play Music, but for ALL students there will be many new situations, skills, and challenges to work through this year.

As a matter of fact, we're counting on it!  Learning to persist in the study and practice of music is a great challenge your family has accepted.  Good choice! Innumerable students have found that this choice helps them become stronger, more resilient people.

You won't be left alone. An important core value at Let's Play Music that we will instill throughout the year is: We face challenges with optimism.

Teaching A "Can-Do" Attitude
Most experts agree that a resilient mindset can be taught to kids. This is possible because being coping with adversity is dependent on what we think when faced with challenges.  Resilient kids react with a "can do" attitude because they think of themselves as capable and competent. They think they can influence their lives, so they take steps to solve their problems. Resilient kids think of mistakes as opportunities to grow; they bounce back and improve.

A resilient mindset can be taught, so let's give this gift to our kids. Music class is the perfect venue to find opportunities for teaching. Here's how we do it:

What are You Saying To Yourself?
Developing an optimistic attitude requires some awareness of the inner monologue and the self-talk in a child's mind.  When you see your child struggling, you might ask, "what are you saying to yourself, in your mind, right now?" He might not always have the words to answer, but your inquiry raises awareness. 

I Can Do Hard Things: 
We teach our students to declare, "I can do hard things." In class we will ask them to do MANY hard things, and we have 100% confidence that they can accomplish them. Help your child start to develop an inner monologue that says, "I might need a lot of time, I might need some help, I might need to practice it over and over...but I CAN DO this HARD THING!" Remind him that he is never expected to do hard things instantly.

Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch (Mile by Mile takes a while):
I like this phrase. I use it to remind students that because an entire song is like a "mile", it's going to take a while to learn it (not instantly!). To reduce frustration, let's tell ourselves, "I know I can do this if I take it one inch at a time. I think I was feeling frustrated just now because I was trying to go a mile all at once." One inch might be just a measure or two, or just one hand or one tricky bit.  Each day we master one little tricky part and soon we can play the song.

Practice Makes Easy:
The first time we practice new material, it's tough! Each day we practice it again, and it seems a bit easier. By lesson day, we can feel pretty confident. This may seem logical, but new students need reminders. Help them learn to say to themselves, "This is tough today, but I'm going to do it again tomorrow and I know it will be a little easier. I know I can get a little better each day." On that flip side, when a student has not practiced for a while and sits down, playing can seem a bit scary. He might be saying, "I stink! I'm a terrible musician!"  Suggest that he say to himself, "This is hard today because I haven't practiced for a long time. That doesn't mean I'm not a good musician. Practice makes easy. I can enjoy easy and fun playing again after I practice a few times."

If You Think You Can't, You're Right: 
What happens when you ask, "what are you saying to yourself?" and you hear "I can't do it! I'm never going to get it! I'm terrible at this!" Unfortunately, negative self-talk is just as powerful as the positive talk. Ask your child what he is saying in his mind. If it turns out to be one of these phrases, coach him to replace the negatives with positives. "I can't do it NOW...but I CAN do it if I work on it bit by bit."

What Makes Us Stronger: 
Every student will experience some set-backs.  Perhaps he won't be confident in class, or he may even make a mistake during pass-off day.  The resilient student can say positive things to himself, and grow from the experience. "I wish I hadn't made that mistake, but I'll bet next time I won't be as nervous- I'll be able to do better."  Or, "Well, at least I can see that I need a bit more practice before pass off day! Next time I'll prepare better." 

Be a Role Model: 
For some children, thinking this way and talking this way to themselves does not come automatically, but it CAN BE TAUGHT.  Does it come naturally to YOU?  Be aware of how you handle your own challenges in life, and listen for the self-talk going on in your mind.  Find a positive "can-do attitude" phrase and say it out loud for your children to hear.  This modeling will give an amazing boost to your child's ability to hear and correct his own self-talk!

What might you be saying to yourself in YOUR mind (that you could say out loud) when:

* You're cooking a new recipe/ driving to a new place/ learning a new song?
* You're preparing for a big dinner party/ event/ recital?
* You're working on an important piece of work/ project/ craft?

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Making Practice Fun with Bonnie Slaughter

I'm Bonnie Slaughter, and I love Let’s Play Music!  I love helping children blossom into musicians.  I love the excitement on their faces when they discover how patterns they sang about in Red Balloons and Blue Bugs come to life at the keyboard and in notation.  Thank you creator, Shelle Soelberg, and the LPM team for all the research and work you continue to put into making this program really special!
I have been teaching piano for over 40 years and maintain a studio of around 90 students aged infant to older adult.   I would like to share with you a few of my favorite tools for encouraging practicing.

Practice Abacus

The first tool my piano parents love is the Practice Abacus.  We all know that
repetitions are essential to solid learning and muscle memory.  So how do we make it fun?  With a colorful, personalized, hands-on tool that children can make themselves! 

After many trials, I came up with a design that is easy, economical and sturdy.  You will need foam board, 3 pipe cleaners and 30 beads.  I start with a piece of foam board and cut the board into 5” x 6” pieces.   
  • Punch 6 holes down each short side about 5/8” from the edge.   
  • Push  pipe cleaners up through the hole on one side and add 5 beads.  
  • Put the end down through the hole on the opposite side.  Bend to go up into the next hole, add beads, and push down into the hole on the opposite end.  So one pipe cleaner makes 2 rows.  (I know that is pretty confusing instructions, so I show you how to make one on my You Tube channel.)  
You could make an abacus with your child as a gift at the beginning of Green Turtles.  What a special way to bond and get excited about the new semester! If you'd rather buy one, they can be purchased.

Practice Incentive Games 
I also created a packet of Practice Incentive Gameboards for you.  These seven creative games help make practicing fun!  You use them at home with any instrument (or chore!).  

When children color these themselves, it increases their ownership in the project, so I highly recommend planning a fun, special 'date' to make a game with your child.  Laminate it to make it super-special.  You can use the time together to talk up the excitement of the upcoming semester and plan how exciting it will be to use the games.

The student's set includes Musical Land, Football Fun, Practice Piggy, Majestic Music Mountain, Staccato Slalom Maze and Hanging Ornaments.  

You and your child are going to make up your own rules about how to move on the game and what the reward will be when they have finished.  Rewards might be a date night with Mom or Dad, an ice cream cone, or money. Decide together, and choose whatever is tickling that child’s fancy that month.  (I also
have large-sized gameboards for teachers to use in their studios.)

Amazing Parents
The most critical tool for student success is parent education and involvment.  Nothing your teacher does can replace the role of parents in empowering and motivating your own children! No one knows your children better than you do! 

I so wish I had known back when my kids were young what I know now.  I have been refining interactions with my piano students over the last few years and have had incredible experiences in making a difference in their lives.  It's hard to sum up every tip, but here are some I find important:

  • Parents, start with identifying why you want your children to study music. Remind yourself regularly. Share it with your children.  It will help you stick to your guns. Music study isn't always easy! Don't give up!
  • Communicate with your child. Demanding that they practice is confusing and contentious, but joyfully sharing your vision with them as you encourage them to practice is fun. Be compassionate about the hard things and the scary things they try. Be excited with them when they succeed.
  • Remember, LPM is Let’s PLAY music.  Play WITH your child.  Sing, dance, enjoy the journey. Your attitude during the journey is important. Model it.
  • One of the most powerful and motivating statements is, “I love hearing you play!”  Stop.  Just enjoy where they are right now and love them!
Empowering Students
All of my students have Declarations: a set of positive affirmations that they created and recite every day at home and at lessons.   As part of introducing themselves at our studio recital this last spring, each student stood and firmly stated their Declarations.  Many parents commented on how extra-special this recital was.  

We all know that when you are waiting for your turn, your mind is focused on what you are going to do next.  Imagine the difference between “Oh no, it is almost my turn, and I going to blow it? Will I be able to remember my piece?  What if I forget? Will they like it?”  compared to “I am an amazing pianist.  My family loves to hear me play.  I bring joy to people’s lives.”

Our thoughts and words have great power.  An inspiring writer I turn to, Dr. Masaru Emoto, has done fascinating research on the power of our words.  His book Hidden Messages in Water is a must-read for parents and teachers.

I have found such continuing drive for helping parents that I recorded an audio CD set called Surviving the Music Lesson Rollercoaster: Tools to Help Your Child Excel at Their Instrument and Life.  I have a CD for parents and one for teachers.  I am currently working on one for students which will feature first hand stories from my students.  I am also writing a music camp manual that includes some of these tools along with Magic Formulas for learning.  Developing formulas to encourage learning in fun, engaging ways is my way of teaching my students to fish, rather than simply giving them a fish.

For more information on the abacus, practice incentive games or Music Lesson Rollercoaster CDs, check out my website at: or email me at

More about Bonnie
BONNIE SLAUGHTER, NCTM is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. She is member of the Idaho and Utah Music Teachers Associations. She has served as President of the Bridgerland and Ogden UMTA Chapters. She has also served on the Utah MTA State Board.

She has published 5 books, including music camps, which she enjoys sharing with music teachers across the country.  She has also created Theory Strips, a series of music theory workbooks to help students better understand and apply theory.

She is a member of the Music Educators Marketplace and Music Teacher Store which are internet sites dedicated to products for music teachers.

Bonnie is the founder and director of the Northern Cache Valley Performing Arts Festival which is held in Preston, Idaho each spring for solos and ensembles. The mission of the Festival is to provide adjudication and performance opportunities for students of all musical genres and abilities.

She is now offering classes and personal mentoring to parents and music teachers where they learn tools to empower and motivate their children and students. She is married and has five children and 19 grandchildren. 

Solfege: Part 3: Learn the Solfege Hand Shapes

By now you've read the History and invention of solfege as a language of music.  And you've discovered our top seven reasons Solfege works for teaching.  In this Part 3 of our Solfege series, we give you a few tips for learning these hand signs and finding meaning in them!
Help Your Child Learn Solfege
At first encounter, these 7 syllables are nothing more than abstract sounds and hand shapes to be memorized.  Let's Play Music teachers have come up with some handy mnemonics to help your child remember it all, but the good news is that as your child uses this language and internalizes the function, the syllables and handshapes will become meaningful on their own!

Be sure to always use the hand shape with the syllable and the pitch, and with a bit of regular use these will all get neurally linked together and become a fantastic musical tool in your child's toolkit.

Help Me Remember
Below are playful talking points you can use with your child to give the hand shapes additional meaning at first introduction, by relating them to concrete (and silly) ideas kids can make sense of.  After only a few weeks or months, your child will begin to conceptualize each syllable as it's own, real concept, and have no trouble remembering the hand shape.

Each hand shape also has a playful high-five you can give to your child in solfege-style; this gives you yet another great way to say "well done!", practice usage, and keep the mood playful.

DO (the STRONG or FIRM tone, "HOME"): "It looks like your hands are holding onto a rolling pin!  Are you rolling out some DOugh?  Is it pizza dough or maybe cookie dough? Let's pretend to take a bite and taste it!  Yum!"
DO five"Gimme a DO-bump! (or DO-bomb)" Tap knuckles with your child, then open up your hands like they exploded. Make explosion sounds and facial expressions for effect.

RE (the ROUSING or HOPEFUL tone, it easily slides down into DO)"This pointy RE is the tip of my ray-gun!  Watch out or it will zap you."  Use your RE hands to vibrate and zap your child right in the armpit while making a bzzzzt! ray-gun sound. 
Or "It's REining on your head!" Make a RE handshape and set it on your child's head, then slide your hands down her shoulders and wiggle your fingers for a rainy effect.
RE five: "Let's make an X-ray!"  Tip your RE hands forward to touch her RE hands, so it looks like an X and say "X", then tip them upright and say "RE!"

MI (the STEADY or CALM tone)"Who puts their arms flat on the table like this?  ME, of course!"
MI five: Sing on mi pitch as you sing "Give ME a hug!" Hold your hands in MI position, then pull the fingertips apart so you can reach around the child for a hug.

FA (the DESOLATE tone):  Draw a smiley face on your thumbprints and hold them up. Pretend they are walking toward each other.  "Mr. Thumb and his brother went walking along and I told them, 'Be careful or you'll FAAAAAAll down and land on your heads."  Have Mr. Thumbs turn upside down to become FA. This helps students remember to point thumbs down.
FA five: "I have a FA-lower for you!" Either you or your child should make a flower pot by holding a hand in O-shape. Then insert your FA thumb down into the flowerpot, then open the rest of your fingers to make the FA-lower bloom.

SOL (the GRAND or BRIGHT tone): "I ate SOL much DO that now I am SOL full!" Place your SOL hands on your belly to show you're full, or stretch them out with the sol handshape to show how now your belly is "SOL big!".
SOL five:  Most students are already familiar with high fives and low fives, so practice those first.  "Gimme a high-five and a SOL- five, because we don't need a low-five!" Tap the back of your SOL to your child's and vocalize a smacking sound for effect.

LA (the SAD or WEEPING tone): "Now my hands feel so bLAh! My fingers are too bLAh to do anything more than LA."  Emphasize how relaxed and droopy the fingers are as they just hang there. Make a blah face for dramatic effect.
LA five: "Show me your cLAw!" Reach your right LA hand to your child's right LA hand while saying "rowr!" or "meaow!" like a cat or monster with claws, then repeat with the left.  Your child will also laugh if you say "Gimme a LA shake!" and when they hold out their LA hand, you shake it (much like a dead-fish handshake) with a feigned look of repulsion on your face.

TI (the PIERCING or SENSITIVE tone, easily pulls up into DO): "This handsign almost looks like a letter of the alphabet..." Tip your TI fingers to make a letter T and look surprised.  Let your child discover that it looks like 'T'.
TI five: "Make a TI-riangle and I'll give you a tap!" Pretend the child's TI hand shape is a triangle (musical instrument).  Use the triangle mallet or your finger to tap it and vocalize a chiming noise as if you have hit a triangle.  Show the children a triangle to be sure they know what one is!

I hope you have fun playfully helping your child learn these hand shapes.  Just as neurons for the sound, the hand shape, and the syllable are strengthened together during learning,  it will make a big difference if the neurons for happy feelings and having fun are active during your child's learning!

Don't miss the other posts in the series:
SOLFEGE: Part 2: 7 Reasons We Love Solfeg for Teaching Music

SOFEGE: Part 1: When You Know the Notes to Sing...

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

Friday, July 17, 2015

2015 Traveling T-Shirt Contest!

You'll have to wait until NEXT summer to enter our contest again!  Head over to our Facebook page because we have contests every month or two, with lots of fun prizes.  We love seeing you share your LPM spirit.  Go check out the winners!

It's summer and that means vacation time! Show us the fun you're having this summer and you can win FREE GAS and ROAD TRIP MUSIC to make those summer road trips even more spectacular.

How To Enter (Ends 7/31):

Take a photo this summer of you or your kids in your LPM Shirt.  If you don't have a shirt, grab a snapshot with your music book, bells, or other LPM gear.

Post your photo to YOUR facebook wall. In the description include the hashtag #LPMTshirt.  (If you are a teacher you must also include #ITeachLPM). Be sure to make the post public.

Finally, post your photo to OUR facebook wall HERE so we will be sure to find it.  You're entered!

Photo from Facebook user and LPM teacher: Kristi Ison

Check back to our facebook wall and your facebook messenger to see if you won: winners are contacted through facebook.
Winners will be chosen in a random drawing on July 31 at 6:00 AM PDT. Three additional winners will be chosen for "most beautiful" images.

3 Winners will win $50 in GAS CARDS.  No matter where you go for family fun, we are guessing you could use some free fuel to get you there on time.

10 Winners will get two musical treats. First, my family's FAVORITE Road-trip Album Ever! I just love the story 'The King, The Mice, and The Cheese' as performed by Stevesongs.  This hilarious story is acted out in musical fashion by Steve and his young  singing entourage to give you the best 45 minutes of every road trip you take.  In our family we listen to it once for every road trip without fail!  It will be delivered to you for MP3 download from Amazon.

Second, you'll receive more great road-trip music: 'Peter and the Wolf' (Prokofiev)  AND 'Carnival of the Animals' (Saint Saens).  I like this recording because it is the rare one that does NOT have the narration over or amid the music.  After telling the story (or listening to a version with narration) I like to put this on and drive in peace while the children listen carefully and imagine what is going on, without too much narrative guidance.
Take a photo and upload it to Facebook today! Also delivered via MP3.

You Can CHEAT! Here's How!
So, perhaps you have a photo of your child singing or dancing or playing an instrument...but there's no LPM T-shirt or LPM music books in the photo! Oh no!  Here's a VERY COOL way you can get LPM icons into your picture so they'll be super great for the contest.

1. On your phone or tablet, download the Rhonna Designs App:

2. Find the sticker pack of LPM icons! RD has created this pack just for us!

3. Not only will you be able to make super-cute text and images with your family photos before you put them on Facebook and Instagram, but you'll be able to make them Let's Play Music-y too!

4. Go post it for the contest.  Hurry! Time is almost up. Check out this example of a sticker added to a photo; how cute is that!?
Photo credit: Brooke Sutherland

Becca Smith: "Fulfilled in Teaching My Children"

Ms. Becca I Knew I'd Be a Teacher
My name is Rebecca Smith and all my students and their friends call me Ms. Becca. I started playing violin when I was 5. I grew up in a very musical family. My mother is an excellent pianist and taught through all my growing-up years. All eight siblings played at least one instrument, and those gifted ones did several. 

I had excellent teachers and during my high school years we moved from Salt Lake City to Knoxville, TN for my father’s calling in our church, where we had an incredible opportunity to study with Mark Zelmanovich, the concert master of the Knoxville symphony. I was also able to be a part of the Knoxville youth symphony, a great program in the area.  

In the fourth grade I had written in one my school projects that I was going to be a music teacher when I grew up. After graduating Farragut High I went to BYU to further my education. I felt inclined to become more well-rounded and achieved a B.S. in Health Sciences. I have continually taught 1 or more students violin from the time I graduated high school. 

Serious Theory...for Children!?
After I had been married a short time, my sister-in-law was telling me about an amazing music program called Let’s Play Music her children were enrolled in. I was intrigued and the more I looked into it, the more I thought, "I’ve got to have my own future children do this!" The music theory and concepts that the program teaches were what I was most impressed with first, since I hadn’t heard of any other program that introduced these concepts so early! After a year (and a move back to Knoxville) I knew it was time to look seriously into Let’s Play Music because there were no teachers in Knoxville. I started teaching one class of four kids in 2007 while I was working full time and had a few violin students as well. Slowly I added more classes and have just loved watching this program bless the lives of children and their families learning and understanding music in such a fun way! 

Here Comes The Surprise:

Life can throw you some curve balls, for sure. My husband and I were surprised and excited when we found out during our first pregnancy we were expecting twins! With no parents in town at that time, I was nervous about how I would care for babies and keep the music classes going. But I said to myself, “Remember, you are teaching this for YOUR babies to do one day.” I did somehow work it out and got back into a great groove of juggling babies and teaching. 

Fast forward almost 2 years and, surprise! We were expecting triplets! I had
just started an amazing group of first-year students and knew I couldn’t let them down. I will never forget the great group of moms who were so sweet and understanding of my challenges. They were fine with starting 2nd year later the next year in January and going straight through the summer so I could “manage” my babies. I’m just in awe that I’ve been so blessed to teach awesome children in my community and to have my own family have a great start in music! Wouldn’t you know we have 5 boys and, wow, they need that balance of music to help them to do well academically and offset all the sports!

A Musical Community
The twins just graduated LPM this spring with the largest group of third years I’ve ever had: 17 students. The triplets have loved Sound Beginnings and will be starting red balloons this fall. I have absolutely loved being integrated into the community in this way and have enjoyed all the people we have come to meet. I think back to those few crazy years and remember feeling my head was just above the water. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel so fulfilled teaching my own children and grateful for the opportunity our family has had to get to know remarkable families in our community. These families are doing fantastic things with their kids and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

Learn more about Ms. Becca's classes in Knoxville, TN, at:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Solfeg: Part I: When You Know the Notes to Sing...

We just love Solfege.  Perhaps you know it by a different name?  With your best French accent, you might say Solfege.  If you're in Italy, it's Solfeggio.  In England, you might hear it called Solfa, but any way you pronounce it, we're excited about teaching the language of singing and hearing music. 

Ready to become bilingual with your child? Once you speak Solfege, your musical abilities (ahem, superpowers) will amaze and astound.
History of Solfege
Photo credit: Red Poppy Photo and teacher Nicci Lovell
Humans are hardwired to sing and create music.  At a certain point in history, a language was needed to talk about music and notes because musicians started to experiment and become sophisticated with sound. Hey, we invent words whenever we have new ideas, most recently we came up with "blogs" "tweets" and "hashtags".

So now you've sung the Solfege major scale in class (Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do) and you might wonder why someone would choose such random syllables to be the new words of music . Well, it turns out that if you were at all musical back in the 11th century, then of course you knew the hottest pop song of the time: the chant-like Hymn to St. John the Baptist.  Check out this song (sing along if you like) and pay close attention to the words.  Can you figure out how the solfege syllables were chosen!?

Yes! Strong words in this hymn begin on each note of the major scale, so the first syllable of those words became important; they became the words that represent the notes in the scale!  There is still a little something missing to complete the diatonic scale.  Sancte Iohannes thought about it and added one more syllable, using his initials, and Si was added.  It is possible that Guido of Arezzo (creator of the hymn) and Iohannes were influenced by Eastern musical ideas.  Just take a look at the Arabic alphabet letters Muslims were using to represent notes in their musical system, and you'll see something interesting:

Arabic letters used for singing: ‎ﻡ mīm ﻑ‎ fāʼ ﺹ ṣād ﻝ‎ lām ﺱ‎ sīn ﺩ-‎ dāl ﺭ‎ rāʼ
Solfege used for singing:             mi ---fa ----sol---la -----si --(ut)do ---re 

Rogers and Hammerstein teach solfege in 'Do A Deer'
Right! Did Guido of Arezzo try to make his song fit in with the musical scale (an idea that Rogers and Hammerstein also employed in 'Do A Deer'), or did his random song become the musical scale? If you get a time machine, let me know.

Okay, you might also be asking: what about the Ut? In the 17th century, music scholar Giovanni Battista Doni rightly pointed out that it would be easier to sing if there were an open vowel.  Take a close look at his name…what syllable do you think he suggested? Do!  Or perhaps he, too, was influenced by the Arabic system.

In the 19th century, Sarah Glover suggested that each syllabic 'word' should start with a different letter, so Si was changed to Ti.  So there you have it- words were created and adopted so musicians could work with and communicate about language.

The notes of the solfege major scale today:

Did you wonder if EVERY note on your piano has a solfege word? You know, the chromatic scale, when you play each black and white key on the piano?  The answer is yes! This is the chromatic scale ascending:

And below is the chromatic scale descending.  In Let's Play Music class you'll hear us use me le and te (pronounced 'may' 'lay' and 'tay') when we teach students  to transpose their song into a minor key by finding all of the mi la and tis and lowering them. Re is a funny one, because it already sounds like 'ray', so if we lower it we change it to 'rah'.

Solfeggio in Education
Solfege was brought into prominence in education as researchers discovered the brain’s ability to connect more easily with pitch relationships if a syllable is attached. Solfege gives a name to each step of the scale, so students can learn, for example, the sound ‘MI-SOL’ by singing it (in any key) without having to think about a written note. I am confident that I could sing any note and YOU (after attending first year Let's Play Music) could sing a minor third above or below it, by imagining 'sol-mi' or 'mi-sol'.

Today, solfege is used at most major European and American music schools for training professional musicians. It is the common tongue of all Western musicians, and has many non-Western correspondents as well. 
Curwen and Kodály
John Curwen (Britain, 1816-1880) created hand signs for notes, giving us a way to visually and physically represent the function of each note of the major scale. In this way, full body involvement is utilized as the hands ‘feel’ the major scale. While singing in solfeg, the child is producing the pitch with his voice, hearing it with his ear, and reinforcing that pitch relationship with his hands.
The Curwen Hand Signs Adopted By Kodály
Curwen Hand Signs

When signing the solfeg syllables, the hands begin near the waist with DO and rise with each consecutive sign until the octave DO is at a height near your forehead. Hand signs must always communicate pitch height to be completely effective for training the ear.

Zoltan Kodály (Hungary, 1882-1967) was a revolutionist who changed the attitudes of teaching music to children. He incorporated hand signs as a teaching tool.

Another ear training method Kodály promulgated was that of pattern imitation, or patterning.
This is the planned sequence of certain melodic motifs that are presented to the children first in songs, and imitation exercises. Through this presentation, the children would internalize the patterns, which would open the door for them to be identified, labeled, and notated. In this way, Kodály sought to produce children who not only could read music, but who felt it and understood it.

Your Musical Superpower
Hand signs and patterning promote “inner hearing”: a term that Kodály created.
Inner hearing is the ability to hear music in the mind without any music actually being present, and is the precursor to all musical skill.

One of the fundamental inner hearing skills is developing tonal orientation: a feel for the tonal center. Tonal center is the musical “pull” toward the tonic chord and the tonic pitch (DO).  A child who has developed tonal orientation can hear a piece of music in whole or part and accurately decipher where DO is – and can sing it. When this skill is acquired, it is then possible to hear a piece, determine the pitch relationships, and then write down, transpose, or compose a harmony to these notes. 

All Let's Play Music students have the diatonic scale so strongly patterned in their mind's ear that they will intuitively be able to recognize and identify (sing) DO, the tonal center in a piece of music. 

Once the diatonic scale and the diatonic center (DO) are internalized, the ear understands each scale step and can hear pitch relationships (intervals) more easily with practice.  Here is one fun way YOU can start practicing pitch relationships.

By the end of Let's Play Music training, students can sing in tune, hear in tune, and identify if someone else is singing in tune or not (watch out, Mom!).  It is because we have a language for labeling and recalling the pitches and relationships of music that we can easily hold on to sounds in our mind and practice these musical skills.

This is the power of solfeg; and ear training at its finest!
So, let’s start at the very beginning. Let’s use Solfege to develop the inner musician in every child. The sound of DO, the melodic patterns from class, and the pitch relationship exercises students experience now will stay in their aural memory for life!

Continue Reading:
SOLFEGE: Part 2: 7 Reasons We Love It!

SOLFEGE: Part 3: Learn the Handsigns