Friday, September 20, 2013

Intervals are Worth Knowing

If you're in the second year of Let's Play Music, you're about to get to know intervals very well.

in·ter·val /ˈintərvəl/  - the difference in pitch between two notes


Soon your student will reliably identify the sight and sound of harmonic intervals: two notes played at the same time, thanks to our turtle shells.  Astute students will also realize that melodies are made of up melodic intervals: notes played one after the other.  That's right...a baby step is a melodic second and a skip is a melodic third.



So, why the big emphasis on intervals?  Here are a few good reasons you'll be glad to hear, "My intervals: I know them very well!"

Music Reading

You may have heard that it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteers be at the rghit pclae.  That's not exactly true, but the take-home message is that humans read words in chunks, not letter-by-letter, and the parallel is true for music.

In the 3rd year of Let's Play Music, your child will learn how to read and play every note from the staff, but playing note-by-note through every song would be slow and laborious.  Musicians can learn to read music with ease and fluidity (remember how many hours of practice it took to read storybooks with ease and fluidity?), but they don't do it by thinking of each note as an 'A' or a 'G'.  They use intervals and chord shapes to quickly interpret music!

You've seen this on the bells in the first year classes: once the first note is identified, the melody can be quickly read by considering steps and skips up and down the staff.  Likewise, with  practice, your student can use intervals, scales and chord shapes to read chunks of notes with two part or thicker textures moving independently throughout a piece of piano music.

 Singing

Sight-singing is slightly different from reading at the piano.  Singers interpret the written music and audiate the melodic intervals.  This powerful skill can be improved with practice in Let's Play Music classes.  Hearing harmonic intervals also enables singers to harmonize a part in a choir, unlocking the joys of singing with friends and choir ensembles.

 Composing

Have you ever had a little tune playing in your mind?  Would you love to jot it down and flesh it out into a complete composition?  A first step is to follow that melody interval-by-interval to discover the notes.  Next, add some red, yellow, and blue chords for harmonization, and you'll be well on your way to creating an excellent composition like the 3rd year Let's Play Music students do.

So keep up the ear-training to identify those intervals, because, "that's the nicest sound I've ever heard!"

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

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